A woman has been fined $2750 after trying to bring packets of bird nest into New Zealand.
Cher Shar Wong, 62, a retired NZ citizen who lives here and in Taiwan, was arrested at Auckland International Airport on Wednesday and charged with trying to bring in the goods three years earlier.
She was charged under the Biosecurity Act 1993 with two counts of knowingly making false and misleading statements to an inspector and knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods under the Crimes Act.
The Ministry for Primary (MPI) industries said that in February 2010, she tried to bring in four packets of bird nest by claiming it was sea weed.
Wong was convicted in Manukau District Court on Wednesday and fined $2750, MPI said in a statement.
The sentencing judge said aggravating factors were the high biosecurity risk posed by the bird nests and that Wong clearly knew she wasn't allowed to bring the nests into the country.
Wong had previously been accredited by the former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to work as a transitional facility operator.
Such operators receive training in how to identify biosecurity risks.
MPI spokesman Greg Keys said: "This is someone who understood our biosecurity system and knew the biosecurity risks of what she was doing.
"The size of the fine reflects the severity of the offences. I sincerely hope it sends a clear message to anyone else who is considering flouting our biosecurity rules."
- APNZBy Melissa Hills