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Cock-a-doodle don’t! Dunedin woman convicted for noisy roosters

2 min read

Lyann Heke’s chooks have finally come home to roost.

After a bitter five-year dispute between the 65-year-old Dunedin woman and her neighbours over the rooster noise coming from her property, she was finally convicted before the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Judge Brian Dwyer opted against a financial penalty for the Pine Hill resident, but imposed a five-point enforcement order designed to silence the fowl between 10pm and 7am.

The most vocal of Heke’s Dalrymple St neighbours, Tom Bliss, said he was “relieved” the process was finally over.

However, he was unconvinced the measures would provide him any aural respite.

Heke was found guilty, following a hearing in May, of a charge of breaching a Dunedin City Council abatement notice.

Council staff gave evidence of investigations in 2018 and 2019 which found roosters crowing at an excessive level.

The abatement notice, served at the start of 2020, was not adhered to by Heke.

Specifically, she failed to house her roosters on the southeastern corner of her property — as far away from her neighbours as possible.

Judge Dwyer, though, noted the owner of the 2ha property had complied with all other requirements.

The court heard Heke bought her home in 2002 before a subdivision resulted in 12 houses being built around her northern boundaries.

While the judge accepted the rooster noise was excessive, he had some sympathy for the free-range farmer.

“If people want to live in the country, they have to put up with country noise,” he said.

“There might be some merit in the observation you were there first.”

Heke, who represented herself in court, argued her offending was so minimal she should be discharged without conviction.

“That was a bad patch in my life but since then I’ve been an outstanding member of the community,” she said.

A friend, the head of a traditional cloak-weaving group, spoke in glowing terms about Heke’s involvement.

The judge declined the application, noting Heke had more serious convictions on her record, but he stressed his decision would not prohibit her poultry pursuits.

The imposition of an enforcement order raised the stakes, should the defendant transgress again.

“[It] is an order of the court so if you don’t comply with it … that’s a serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of a $300,000 fine,” the judge said.

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