Local nurseries left out of deal

Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014

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Kapiti and Horowhenua nurseries say they are disappointed to not be supplying any of the 1.5 million plants for the McKays to Peka Peka expressway.

Auckland-based Natural Habitats won the $7 million contract for 140 hectares of planting along the expressway over the next three years.

Most of the seeds will be sourced from Kapiti and local nurserymen have been told Kauri Park Nurseries in Palmerston North will be cultivating most of the plants.

Waikanae nurseryman Gus Evans said he is disappointed local growers had been left out.

"We realise we are not big enough for the world, but it would have been good to have been included in small way in some of the growing of the plants," Mr Evans said.

Bringing plants from out of the district could expose Kapiti to pest lizard the Australian rainbow skink which till now has not been found south of Foxton, he said.

"It would be disastrous to the locals," he said.

Lynwood Nurseries owner Lynton Allen was disappointed his joint tender with Te Horo Ornamentals for the planting project had been unsuccessful.

"We have the capacity and ability to supply the plants but understand it was a competitive tender process," Mr Owen said.

Natural Habitats is setting up shop in Kapiti and will hire 60 local staff.

The creation of local jobs had been welcomed by NZTA and Kapiti mayor Ross Church.

NZTA Wellington highways manager Rod James said Kauri Park Nursery had been the first provider appointed through a competitive tender process that was open to Kapiti growers.

"However, the door remains open for local nurseries to also provide plants. The contract with Kauri Park is not exclusive. We need to source 1.5 million plants and a range of providers may be needed for such an unprecedented planting project.

"Even where contracts are awarded to a non-Kapiti based supplier there will still be jobs and/or subcontracting opportunities on offer locally," Mr James said.

Natural Habitats said there was a potential for other growers to be involved "but it will be a competitive arena."

Mr Jame said NZTA had been advised of the potential risk of the rainbow skink and would be meeting with the Ministry of Primary Industries to discuss how to prevent its spread.

The closest area where rainbow skinks were known to be present was Foxton.

"On this basis, and given that there are no current records of this species in the Kapiti Coast area, we have included clauses in our planting specifications that require the plant propagator and supplier of the need to check plant stock if the plants are propagated in an area of NZ where rainbow skink are known to be present."

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- The Dominion Post

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