The Hamilton City Council has been fined $54,000 for discharging nearly 2 million litres of wastewater into the Waikato River.
The Bridge Street wastewater pump station malfunctioned in two ways in February last year, meaning waste water flowed into the river for 19 hours.
The council entered a guilty plea in the Hamilton District Court and was fined last week.
A spokesperson said on the day of the discharge the wastewater pumps had failed to start as levels rose and alarms had also failed.
Although there were no health or environmental effects reported, the council recognised the discharge was particularly offensive to iwi, the spokesperson said.
The council had already made changes to prevent a similar incident happening again, and has carried out planting along the river.