Tops chefs to get trophies and medal after Customs backdown

Trophy-winning chefs Ken O'Connell, left, Greg Piner and Fifi Leong.
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Trophy-winning chefs Ken O'Connell, left, Greg Piner and Fifi Leong.

Customs will wipe their charges off a consignment of medals and trophies won by Kiwi chefs at an international cooking competition.

Dunedin trio Greg 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.

However, their haul of trophies and medals were held up over a dispute with Customs, which asked the trio to pay $180 for the release of the package.

A Customs spokeswoman said trophies and medals won overseas in a competition were "usually exempt of GST".

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She confirmed of the $180 quoted for the release off the package, $127.84 was assessed as payable to Customs, which has waived those charges.

The remaining amount would be shipping or processing charges from the broker or agent.

"We have cleared the goods for entry into New Zealand and any further issues are between the shipper and the client."

Customs had said they had not been contacted by the importer or the shipping company over the matter, but O'Connell said he phoned the department and sent three emails. 

On Tuesday morning a customer services representative told him: "The only cups that are duty free coming into New Zealand are the Bledisloe and Melbourne Cup."

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That was "incorrect", the Customs spokeswoman said.

She said it appeared the shipping company declared the goods as trophies "without indicating they have been won in a competition".

This triggered the standard charges for imported goods – import duty, GST and postal/courier charges, an Import Entry Transaction Fee of NZ$29.26 and a Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity system entry levy of NZ$19.98, the spokeswoman said.

 - Stuff

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