As Hawke's Bay summer fruit trees begin to bloom, some growers faced with having to lose their life's work due to biosecurity fears have been given a glimmer of a lifeline.

Four Hawke's Bay companies took part in a legal challenge to a previous MPI directive wanting to see tens of thousands of plants destroyed due to biosecurity concerns.

That resulted in a High Court Judge ruling the directive unlawful and instructing parties to try to find a solution.

"MPI held another productive conference call with affected nurseries and industry on Friday," an MPI spokeswoman said.


"We talked through the high level testing plan which was shared with affected owners last week, and we await their feedback. Detailed individual testing plans are being developed for each owner and will be finalised later next week.

"These detailed plans outline the testing that will need to be completed in order for the plant material to be released if no pests or diseases of concern are found. Once this is done, we're hoping to be in a position to release the apple plants in the near future.

"For stone fruit plants, spring and summer testing will be required so the process will be longer.

MPI also remained open to receiving "modest reimbursement claims" for some direct and verifiable losses incurred as a result of destroyed or contained plant material.

"MPI will also be writing to affected owners early next week to explain the process for submitting the costs and losses they have incurred as a result of destroying or containing their plant material. We intend to offer one-on-one meetings with affected owners to talk through this process."

However, Napier-based Pattullo's Nurseries owner Kerry Sixtus said effected parties were still "very concerned" that some of the innovative plant varieties imported from the United States would not be able to be brought through to commercial production.

"We will continue to fight but the prospect of turning our back on our lifetime's work, burning everything and walking away is still very real. This is not an acceptable outcome."

The group was committed to constructive dialogue with MPI to confirm timelines and would take some time to carefully review and consider the new directions and testing plan, he said.

MPI's original action was taken after an audit found significant failures at a facility screening apple and stonefruit cuttings in the United States.


The order is expected to affect 32 orchardists, nurseries, importers and intellectual property companies in Hawke's Bay, Waikato, Nelson and Central Otago across a range of fruit-based industries, including apples and nectarines.