New Zealand's border controls have been slammed in a report into
how a kiwifruit-killing bacteria reached New Zealand.
The independent review into Psa found a number of major biosecurity shortcomings before the discovery of Psa in Te Puke in November 2010.
The Government-ordered report into the disease still has not revealed how it arrived in New Zealand, but it has uncovered some astounding control failures.
It is widely suspected Psa came from China before breaking out in Te Puke in late 2010.
The report reveals that in the lead up, border control
accidentally allowed in parts of kiwifruit plants from China which
went to Te Puke.
The former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries failed to police imports of kiwifruit pollen properly, believing pollen could not carry Psa.
Meanwhile, Government officials at another agency, Plant and Food, did know pollen could carry Psa but did not tell anyone because they did not know pollen was being imported.
"There were process failures here and the systems need to be improved. So we clearly can do better and there are some things we need to improve on," said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) director-general Wayne McNee.
"We've already taken action in response to this report."
One of the scientists researching Psa said he is surprised plant material slipped in.
"It shouldn't have got through our border control, and the importers on realising what they'd got should have either returned it to Maf or incinerated it," said Otago University scientist Russell Poulter.
Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) says it is so concerned by the findings of the report that it plans to seek legal advice about whether it should take further action.
"Many growers have lost all, or part, of their livelihoods as a result of Psa coming into New Zealand. As the grower representative organisation, it is NZKGI's job to consider all possible options for growers impacted by Psa," said NZKGI President Neil Trebilco.
MPI officials are keen to point out that the border control failings did not necessarily allow Psa in, but the report does not rule that out either.