Government officials are cracking down on the sale of fake merchandise during the Lions tour.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman confirmed to the Herald fake Lions tour gear had been seized before games in Christchurch, Dunedin and Saturday's clash between the visitors and the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua.

She said "a group of individuals have been selling items with unauthorised association with the Lions series".

MBIE tourism, sectors, regions and cities general manager Iain Cossar said they are "currently investigating a small number of incidents involving the sale of merchandise", and "three to four individuals" have been responsible for it.


The spokeswoman said MBIE has served "a number" of breach notices under the Major Events Management Act 2007, and "continues to gather evidence should the Ministry decide to prosecute".

MBIE has not encountered any people selling fake All Blacks merchandise before games.

The series status as a major event under the Act means it has protection for specific words and emblems closely associated with the tour.

There is a full list of words that on their own and in combination cannot be used unofficially, and MBIE said enforcement of the Act is "designed to obtain maximum benefits from the major event for New Zealand" and "prevent unauthorised commercial exploitation at the expense of a major event owner, organiser or sponsor".

"The sale of these types of goods directly exploit the event and may impact on New Zealand's reputation as a world-class major event host," Cossar said.

Cossar said MBIE will take a "no-tolerance" approach to the sale of unauthorised goods.

An MBIE spokeswoman said their "focus is to prevent large-scale, intentional and malicious ambush marketing within clean zones and in areas visible from clean zones during clean periods. It will also take action against the sellers of counterfeit goods and ticket scalping".

Clean zones are areas within direct proximity to match venues that have restrictions on trading and advertising.


"MBIE is working closely with local councils and NZ Rugby in its enforcement programme planning for all 10 matches."

Fans are urged not to purchase unauthorised goods from unofficial street traders.

According to MBIE, "a clear sign that the goods are unauthorised is that the individual is selling items from bags and requesting payment in cash only".

MBIE expects that the economic returns from the Lions Series will be similar to those generated when the Lions last toured New Zealand in 2005 - about 20,000 international visitors, generating 431,000 international visitor bed nights, and having a GDP impact of $135 million.