Philip Hartridge, a New Zealand farmer, was found guilty of realigning over 600 meters of the Tamaki River next to his farm in 2005. It was the Palmerston North District Court that found the farmer to be guilty.
Horizons Regional Council lawyer John Maassen told The Dominion Post that Hartridge had straightened the natural meandering of the river, narrowing it from about 40 meters to 17 meters. Hartridge also demolished the vegetation and willows that stopped erosion along the right bank.
Hartridge was fined $10,000, ordered to pay the council's court costs of $10,000, and issued two enforcement orders. One order was $15,000 to fix up a nearby river monitoring site damaged by the altered river, and another, estimated to cost $45,000, was issued to return the river to its original state.
The prosecution is the third this year by Horizons, and the penalty was the biggest pursued.
In May, Harvey Godfrey, a vegetable grower in Ohakune, was convicted of illegally discharging wastewater and fined $12,000.
The wastewater spread to a neighbor's property and into a tributary of the pristine Manganui o te Ao River, home to the endangered Ohakune blue duck.