Hawke's Bay apple and stonefruit industry players caught up in a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity scare are positive a common solution can be found without further legal action.

A statement issued on behalf of the five parties that sought a Judicial High Court review of MPI's order said industry members went into discussions with MPI on Friday to seek an alternative to the initial MPI directive to contain and/or destroy over 48,000 apple and stonefruit plants.

That directive was deemed unlawful following the High Court judicial review.

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"A final decision regarding the future management of the 48,000 plants has not yet been reached, but the industry group was heartened by a constructive initial meeting with MPI representatives (which the industry group has been seeking for some weeks).

"The industry group expects further opportunities to engage with MPI to continue discussions in the coming days, in order to avoid the need to seek further rulings from the High Court."

The statement pointed out that Justice Cooke had previously held MPI's initial directive to be unlawful, but had issued interim orders maintaining the status quo for the plants and plant materials.

"These orders were set to expire at 5pm on Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day on Friday, a teleconference was held between the parties (the industry, MPI, and Justice Cooke) where MPI sought an extension to the interim orders.

"The judge's decision regarding an extension to the interim orders had not been confirmed by close of business on Friday but is expected very early this week.

"The industry group is cautiously optimistic that a solution which is agreeable to all parties can be achieved without the need to go back to the court."

Fruit companies Johnny Appleseed Holdings - Yummy Fruit Company (Hastings), McGrath Nurseries (Cambridge), New Zealand Fruit Tree Company (Hastings), Pattullo's Nurseries (Napier), and Zee Sweet (Hastings) sought a judicial review of that directive.

Johnny Appleseed chief executive Paul Paynter said some trees resulting from US imported material had already been destroyed and time was running out for the remainder.


"Some trees have been destroyed. The vast majority of trees have been contained, netted and sprayed.

"A number of trees have been moved into storage and will need to be planted urgently otherwise they will die from transplant stress."

The action was to protect New Zealand from potential biosecurity risk after an audit found significant failures at an overseas facility screening apple and stonefruit cuttings. MPI on its website said a routine audit in March found several critical non-compliances.

The order affected 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 in Hawke's Bay.