It may be the festive season, but Auckland biosecurity staff were gobsmacked to find a live Christmas tree coming through the x-ray machine at the International Mail Centre in Auckland this week.
The packaged pine tree had arrived from UK complete with a pot of soil.
“The quarantine inspector working the x-ray machine thought, ‘what the heck?’” says Craig Hughes, Manager North, Passenger and Mail from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
He says the tree won’t be allowed into New Zealand and that the sender has been offered the choices of having it destroyed or returned to the UK.
“There’s no way MPI can let it into the country. Both the tree and the untreated soil may be harbouring pests or diseases that could harm New Zealand’s primary industries and natural environment.”
He says there is a fungus currently killing fir trees used for Christmas in the United States and Britain.
“MPI and the forestry industry clearly don’t want to see this tree fungus or anything like it establish here.”
Photo available on request
Please note the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and NZ Customs are different government agencies. MPI made this border interception.