A Christchurch customs broking firm has been convicted for submitting a false customs declaration that had the potential to create a serious biosecurity breach.

Gateway Cargo Systems (SI) Limited pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court last week to one charge of falsely declaring that the header unit of a combine harvester imported from the United Kingdom was new when in fact it had been used.

The firm was fined $3000.

The offending was detected in December last year after the combine harvester was inspected by a Ministry for Primary Industries quarantine officer.

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MPI spokesman, Steve Ham, said the company correctly stated that the combine harvester was used but declared the header unit as new.

"When the container was opened, it became very clear the header was used and when it was further inspected, it was found to be heavily contaminated.

The contamination in the header. Photo / supplied
The contamination in the header. Photo / supplied

"It was decided the header needed to be disassembled completely to ensure it was steam cleaned effectively. The subsequent cleaning process took 30 hours and the waste filled three 240-litre containers.

"This offending had potentially serious ramifications. The Biosecurity Act aims to protect the natural balance of native New Zealand. If invasive organisms enter our country the impact would be incalculable."