Newsletter 2 September 2019

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In this issue

  • Plant Imports workshop
  • Trade Day Hamilton
  • Native Tree Nursery survey
  • Submission on Prunus IHS
  • Science & Innovation meeting
  • AGM & Business workshop
  • NZPPI subscriptions
  • Myrtle Rust symposium
  • Staff changes at NZPPI
  • Matt's Blog - GIA

Government & Industry Debate Plant Imports Crisis

After two years of active advocacy from NZPPI, we are pleased to report that industry and government have finally recognised the depth of issues in the plant imports system.

Last week NZPPI presented at a Plant Imports Workshop in Wellington. The workshop gathered 48 industry, iwi and research sector participants, along with government officials, to understand the crisis in the plant imports pathway.

To date NZPPI has been a lone voice among industry groups as we highlighted the deepening crisis in the plant imports system that has intensified over the past three years. The importation of new germplasm and plant material has effectively stopped as MPI has progressively imposed restrictions and controls on the pathway.

The workshop was an opportunity for NZPPI to highlight that this is not only affecting our industry, it is holding NZ back. This affects the importation of elite stock for plant health, new genetic material for the horticulture sector and the availability of amenity plants for all New Zealanders. This situation is untenable in the long term as New Zealand risks isolating itself from the rest of the world.

Some of the key takeaways are:

  • There is better recognition that the system has become unworkable and we are missing opportunities to import new varieties and genetics that will benefit our horticultural industries and general gardening public.
  • There is a need to rethink policy to take into account the benefits of access to plant germplasm, not just the biosecurity risks of importation.
  • The situation is in crisis, illustrated by the recent PSA and PEQ court cases and because large parts of the industry have given up on initiating plant imports.

The issues identified include a lack of quarantine space in MPI’s facilities, staff constraints in MPI’s imports team, new restrictions and testing requirements in import health standards.

Participants agree there is a real need to begin an open discussion about an appropriate level of protection and identifying the level of risk we are prepared to accept in order to continue to have access to germplasm and plants from overseas.

42 sector participants and government officials attended the Wellington workshop, facilitated by Plant Market Access Council chairman Michael Ahie

NZPPI is in a good place to influence the next step. We have been invited to contribute to a recovery project that will focus on the immediate and urgent issues affecting the plant material import pathway. A longer term strategic project will follow once the first project has been successfully completed.

Trade Day – Hamilton 21 August

It was great to see so many of our members at the Hamilton Trade Day, run by Commercial Horticulture magazine.

It was an opportunity for Kathryn and Matt to get around and talk to people about NZPPI’s advocacy work and promote the upcoming Native Tree Nursery survey, the Plant Production Biosecurity Scheme, and talk to plant producers about their views on issues affecting the sector.

Native Tree Nursery Survey

NZPPI is surveying native tree producers right across New Zealand. We want to discover how many native trees are grown each year, and find out how we can assist the sector to grow to meet the increasing demand.

We have engaged local data analysts Harmonic Analytics to run the survey using the Survey Monkey platform. A link to the survey will be sent out to all our revegetation and native plant nursery members, as well as non-member nurseries, iwi, council, community and conservation nurseries in the week of 16 September. The survey closes on 11 October and our findings will be available on the NZPPI website in November.

Please keep an eye out for the survey – it is important for as many nurseries as possible to complete the information. We are adding a little sweetener to encourage participation – all completed surveys will go in the draw to win a $150 Go Gardening Gift Card, donated on behalf of the participating nursery to a school of their choice. We will announce the winner in the October newsletter.

Submission on Prunus Import Health Standard

NZPPI worked with New Zealand Fruit Tree Company on a joint submission to MPI on the Prunus Import Health Standard.

This is an important standard as Summerfruit is a rapidly growing industry. The Prunus genus is large and includes a wide range of ornamental species and economic crops which are traded globally.

This IHS review is one of the first in a round of reviews that will set precedents for how MPI manages biosecurity risks in plant quarantine.

This IHS review is one of the first in a round of reviews that will set precedents for how MPI manages biosecurity risks in plant quarantine.

The main points in our submission were:

  • Many of the proposed requirements are stricter than other countries requirements and discourage offshore suppliers from dealing with New Zealand.
  • Proposed testing processes use old techniques that are soon to be replaced by faster and more accurate technologies.
  • The proposed standard requires plant material to be kept in quarantine conditions that are not achievable using available facilities and equipment.
  • The cost to implement the standards makes importation of ornamental and novel Prunus material unfeasible.

MPI advised that the review of submissions will take longer than expected, due to the volume and complexity of the submissions received. We expect to learn of the outcome from submissions by the middle of October.

Science & Innovation Sub-committee inaugural meeting – 6 August

The NZPPI Science & Innovation Sub-committee held its inaugural meeting in Tauranga on 6 August.

The committee reflected that there has not been any systematic application of innovation and science research to the nursery sector in New Zealand for thirty years and we are all playing catch up. It was decided that a good first step would be to review the research which has already been done that would benefit the sector.

The theme of sustainability came up and this was something that the committee felt would be a good focus for next year’s NZPPI Conference.

Science sub-committee members left to right: Seyed Ash (Waimea Nurseries), Mike Riordan (Forevergreen Seedlings), Geoff Ridley (Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research), Kathryn Hurr (NZPPI), Matt Dolan (NZPPI), Craig Ford (Scion Research), Heidi Dungey (Scion Research), Rebecca Ganley (Plant & Food Research), Wade van Aardt (Nudo Herbs), Bill Dyck (Biological Heritage National Science Challenge – taking the photo). Absent: Shanna Hickling (Linnaeus Laboratory).

AGM and Business Governance Workshop

The NZPPI Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 18 September, at Miramar Golf Links, Wellington Airport.

This event includes a business ownership and governance workshop, presented by the Institute of Directors and developed for nursery businesses. This is a must if you intend to grow your business in the future. We encourage you to attend this event to learn something, network and have input into the success of your industry association.

See the programme and agenda here.

RSVP now to or 021 029 78993.

NZPPI Subscriptions

Thanks to those of you that returned your membership turnover declarations before the due date of 31st August.

A reminder to check that you have completed and returned this information to BDO. It is only with the help of your membership and subscriptions that we are able to continue to undertake our work to unite and progress our sector and to represent you in Wellington.

If you have misplaced the turnover form posted to you, you can find it online here.

Myrtle rust symposium

Following the announcement of $20 million for Myrtle Rust research, MPI is holding a Science Symposium. The purpose of the symposium is to review what is happening on the ground to manage the disease and what is needed from the research programmes.

Matt Dolan and Malcolm Woolmore will be attending this symposium on behalf of NZPPI, but we encourage plant producers that have an interest in myrtle rust research to attend.

Date: 9-10 September
Cost: $60.00

Location: Jet Park Hotel, 63 Westney Road, Auckland Airport
Registration: Closing soon, register here

Staff changes at NZPPI

Elizabeth Kennedy finished in her role as office accountant on Friday. We thank Elizabeth for her commitment and service to our industry association over the past seven years. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that our accounts and finances are in order during this time.

Frances Palmer has moved out of NZPPI to a contract role with Gardening NZ, starting this week. Frances will remain in the NZPPI office as part of the team, focussing on developing the rapidly-growing Gardening NZ (Retail SIG) business.

Martin Craig is our new communications manager, replacing Karen Coltman who finished with us in June. Martin has worked as a business journalist, specialising in the retail and brewing industries. He has also worked with many different lobby organisations including the Brewers Guild, RetailNZ, Consumer and Fish & Game. Martin is with us for 20 hours each week and you can reach him at

We are in the process of appointing a new executive and accounts assistant to undertake our accounting and Board/SIG secretariat support. We are hoping to make an announcement on the appointment of this new role shortly.

There has been a lot of change in the NZPPI office over the past few weeks as NZPPI grows and we structure our organisation to serve our members’ needs. Our team is here to serve, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know what we can do to support you.

Matt’s Blog - Is it time to sign up to GIA?

New Zealand’s biosecurity system is changing. Over the past five years, large parts of the horticulture, forestry, arable and livestock sectors, have signed an agreement with the Government to share the cost and decision-making responsibilities for biosecurity incursions.

This Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA) has profoundly changed the relationship between government and industry, who are now partners, rather than adversaries in biosecurity responses.

The Agreement establishes a partnership between government and primary industries to promote better biosecurity by taking an integrated approach to biosecurity risks. Twenty-one partners have signed the agreement, including NZ Apples & Pears, NZ Citrus Growers, the Forest Owners Association, and NZ Winegrowers.

After years of criticism of MPI’s efforts in managing incursions, the GIA now means the industry agrees to assist in biosecurity events and fund a portion of the cost. This would have been unheard of in the past, when the government did this alone, using tax-payers’ money.

The Mycoplasma bovis response is the first significant biosecurity event managed under this new arrangement. While MPI works to eradicate the disease, dairy farmers will refund 30% of the cost, totalling $272m, over the next 10 years.

These are the new rules and Mycoplasma demonstrates what is at stake for industries in future biosecurity events.

Even with the shift in costs, the plants sector’s GIA signatories appear to like the new arrangement. Over the past five years they have banded together to develop response plans for pests like Fruit Fly and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. On the cards is a plan for Xylella, a serious bacterial disease that devastates grape vines and some tree crops. These plans are sophisticated and are driven by a lot of energy and investment from industry.

Plant production is one of only a handful of industries that has not signed the GIA Deed. The nursery industry body looked at this five years ago, but didn’t complete the process at the time.

Things were more difficult back then. Under the previous GIA rules, plant producers would have had to agree to a biosecurity levy across almost every business in the sector, a difficult task in a diverse sector like ours. The proposal was dropped but NZPPI has kept the idea alive in the meantime.

Despite our lack of signatory status, NZPPI participates in GIA forums as an ‘observer’. This is on the basis that we have been a constructive participant and signalled that we may work towards becoming a GIA signatory in the future.

As the GIA signatories get tighter as a group, they are actively looking at how to minimise their biosecurity risk, including the risk from nurseries. This is making our ‘observer’ status a bit uncomfortable.

So, is it time for our sector to once again look at joining GIA? Pressure is increasing, but at the same time the process to join is getting easier.

  • A recent change in the GIA means NZPPI may be able to sign on behalf of its members. This avoids the need to convince the entire sector to sign the deed.
  • The proposed Plant Production Biosecurity Scheme (PPBS) may become part of the GIA and could be a significant contribution to biosecurity readiness from our sector. Under such an arrangement, we may not have to contribute a lot of additional funding to GIA readiness activities.
  • New GIA agreements, such as the one proposed for Xylella, are likely to include rules for nurseries. We need to join GIA to have a say in these rules.

Things are changing quickly. There is no turning the clock back on the GIA, as the primary sector has largely signed up and are seeing significant benefits.

At some point, the plant production sector will need to again look at joining the GIA. While not urgent yet, we will likely begin to see more operational agreements for pests and diseases, that will include nurseries, starting with Xylella later this year.

NZPPI is discussing this with our members and the rest of the plant production industry, through our shed meetings, regional visits, events, and other communications.

The NZPPI website includes information about the GIA and the PPBS, including how these are linked. We also encourage you to tell us what you think by completing our survey.

We want to know what you think, or if you have any questions. Get in touch at or call me on 027 622 9255.


©2019 NZPPI
New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated
PO Box 3443, Wellington 6140
Level 5, 23 Waring Taylor Street, Wellington
P: 04 918 3511 | F: 04 499 9589
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