Student caught hiding biosecurity risk goods

Media contact: William Minchin

A Christchurch international student showed total disregard for New Zealand’s biosecurity rules when he tried to cross the border with food hidden in empty tea packages, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

An MPI quarantine official found dried kumara and pork-filled buns in two large bags of tea when he inspected the baggage of a 16-year-old Burnside High School student arriving at Christchurch airport from China on Friday. 

A cockroach escaped from the bag containing the buns and ran across the search bench during closer inspection. It was quickly captured, says Michael Walker, Team Manager, MPI Border Clearance Services South.  

“We were particularly unimpressed by the contempt the student showed to our biosecurity laws and to the dangers to which he was exposing New Zealand’s primary sectors and environment, says Mr Walker. 

“He clearly knew he was breaking the rules, otherwise he wouldn’t have hidden the food.”

Mr Walker says the passenger was younger than 17, which meant no legal action could be taken. 

MPI plans to visit the school to ensure international students there are aware of their biosecurity obligations.

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