They were dark days, with growers losing their vines, orchards and money.
Today kiwifruit is the biggest horticulture export out of New Zealand and the sector is booming, Carmen Hall reports on innovations in the industry.
Millions of dollars are being pumped into a horticulture research institute in Tauranga which aims to take the agtech sector by storm.
PlantTech will focus on applying cutting edge artificial intelligence and machine learning to the scientific challenges in New Zealand's horticulture industry.
The institute has been welcomed by Zespri which is already leading the world with its innovation and research programme which it spends about $35 million a year on.
PlantTech Research Institute chief executive officer Mark Begbie says the institute wants to leverage the Western Bay of Plenty's strengths in plant-based value chains, robotics and autonomous systems to