Border officials sent two foreign air passengers packing last Friday after they tried to smuggle seeds through Auckland airport.
The seeds were found after a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) quarantine inspector became suspicious of two Chinese passport holders arriving from Shanghai and sent them to have their luggage searched.
The search unearthed 14 foil-wrapped packages of seeds. The packages had been concealed under the inner soles of shoes, within a carton lining, in a handbag and in some wedding invitations.
A police officer also conducted a personal search of one of the passengers after a MPI detector dog gave a positive indication when sniffing the pair.
As a result of the seed find, immigration officials refused the husband and wife entry permission to the country. They were sent back to China that night and are unlikely to be granted visas to enter New Zealand in the future.
"The pair acted recklessly. They either ignored or failed to understand that the illegal importation of seeds could devastate New Zealand's horticulture industry or native plant life," says MPI's Craig Hughes, Manager North Passenger and Mail.
He says the successful outcome was the result of positive interaction between all border agencies.
The seeds have yet to be identified.
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