Seed smuggler blames his mother

Last updated 11:38 28/11/2012

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A man fined $2000 for smuggling banned seeds into New Zealand from China claimed his mother must have packed them to ensure he had food on his journey.

Yaping Wang was stopped at Auckland International Airport in January with several packets of seeds concealed in his jacket and luggage.

But Manukau District Court last week heard the seeds were wrapped in 14 socks and buried at the bottom of his luggage.

Wang pleaded guilty to one charge of attempting to possess unauthorised goods and was fined $2000 and ordered to pay court costs of $132.89.

In another recent case, Philip Chong was caught importing prohibited plant material under a false name after packages were intercepted by Ministry of Primary Industries staff at the international mail centre in Auckland. 

In March MPI staff searched Chong's home and seized a number of seeds as well as cuttings that had been planted in his garden.

Chong pleaded guilty on Monday to two charges of possessing unauthorised goods and was sentenced to 200 hours community work for the plant-related charge and 80 hours for possessing the seeds.

The sentences were to be served concurrently.

''Both of these cases are blatant breaches of the Biosecurity Act and we are happy to see successful convictions for both men,'' MPI spokesman Craig Hughes said.

"It is neither legal nor wise to import plant material into the country without approval and doing so presents a very real threat to New Zealand's biosecurity.

"These are two examples that show there is a significant price to pay for those who choose to ignore the rules that protect our country from exotic pests and diseases."

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