Trophy-winning Dunedin chefs 'fired up' after Customs demand excise tax on medal haul

Ken O'Connell, Greg Piner and Fifi Leong are the first New Zealand team to win 'The Battle of the Pacific' title.
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Ken O'Connell, Greg Piner and Fifi Leong are the first New Zealand team to win 'The Battle of the Pacific' title.

A Kiwi trio who beat Australian chefs in a culinary competition are angry their trophy and medals are being held by Customs unless they fork out and pay an excise tax.

"We did well, we did New Zealand proud . . . and then this," Greg Piner, of Dunedin, said.

Piner and Fifi Leong, both of restaurant Vault 21, and Ken O'Connell, of Bracken, became the first New Zealand team to win 'The Battle of the Pacific' title, beating 11 Australian and Pacific Island teams in the culinary challenge.

The trio were shocked when the New Zealand Customs Service asked them to pay $180 for the release of a package containing a trophy and medals.

READ MORE: Kiwi trio take on Aussie chefs and win

"It cost us a fortune to get over there, and we represented New Zealand in the culinary scene and we did extremely well, but now the country is penalising us," Piner said.

"So why the hell would we do that again?"

O'Connell said he was stunned to contact Customs and be told: "The only cups that are duty free coming into New Zealand are the Bledisloe and Melbourne Cup.

"We put so much time and effort into this, I closed my business to go over there. It is not about the money, I can pay the money, but it the principle.

Piner said the trio did not want to pay the tax, and he believed it should be exempt.

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"I am fired up."

Customs has been approached for comment.

 - Stuff

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