Monday, 31 March 2008

Courts & Ngai Tahu send family to jail

A very good piece tonight on TV3's 60 Minutes, about West Coast helicopter pilots David Saxton and his son Morgan Saxton, who were both sentenced to over 2 years in jail for "stealing" greenstone.

The pair were accused by the corporate arm of South Island tribe "Ngai Tahu" and the South Westland runanga "Makaawhio" of stealing $800,000 worth of greenstone, which Maori call "pounamu" (the defence insists that value is greatly exaggerated).

In court, a judge (clearly keen to be seen as "politically correct") sentenced veteran helicopter pilot David Saxton to 2 years and 9 months in jail, and his son Morgan Saxton to 2 years and 6 months.

They were ordered to pay $300,000 to Ngai Tahu for the "stolen stone", compensation which the corporate tribe "kindly agreed to accept, as that was what the Saxton family could manage".

Ngai Tahu were able to add weight to their claim through their use of "victim impact statements" (?!?)... Apparently some "runanga" were distressed at seeing David Saxton handing out small green pendants in court, as well as seeing "photos of pounamu boulders sliced up and ready to be hauled out by helicopter".

The mainstream media swallowed the prosecution's line in February, with some seriously dodgy reporting. David Saxton says he wasn't mining the greenstone in secret, and the defence claimed he had customary rights to take greenstone from South Westland's Cascade Plateau over a six year period.

Judge Gary MacAskill decided the father and son had no right to take tonnes of the greenstone, which the Crown says is under the ownership of Ngai Tahu as part of the claims settlement act. Justice was certainly not done that day, and many in Westland and in the helicopter community are bitterly upset about it.

* 60 Minutes: Jailhouse Rock

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  1. Anonymous Says:

    I say good on Ngai Tahu for taking the mater further,especially in the amounts they were taking them in.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Yes theft is theft and ignorance of the law is no excuse!