Judge blames Ministry for PSA disease

If you live in New Zealand or have visited New Zealand, you know about our Biosecurity checks at the airport. Airports have dogs which can smell food in your hand luggage, and Biosecurity staff X-ray all luggage to check for suspicious items. Because we are an island country, we try to keep out insects and diseases which affect other countries. We are not always successful.

In 2010, the disease caused by the Psa bacteria was first discovered on gold kiwifruit vines. The plants died. This caused huge financial problems for growers whose vines were affected. This cost the growers around $900m and some people went bankrupt.

Listen to Kiwifruit Disease, July 5 2012 for more about this disease.

However, some years later, a new variety of kiwifruit – the SunGold – turned out to be resistant to the disease and also more productive. This SunGold variety produces 30% more fruit than the original gold plant.

Listen to Workers needed for kiwifruit crop, May 7 2018 for more about the recovery of gold kiwifruit.

212 growers took the Ministry for Primary Industries to court, wanting compensation for their losses at that time. The court case was held last year, but the judge released her decision today. She said that the Ministry has responsibility for what can be imported into New Zealand and in this case had not shown reasonable care. The disease came in with pollen imported from China. There is no decision yet about compensation.


• Biosecurity – bio means living things; keeping our country safe from living plants and animals (and drugs) which could damage our environment
• suspicious (adj) – anything which looks a possible risk
• resistant (adj) – not affected by a disease
• productive (adj) – produces something good
• compensation (n) – money to help those growers who lost so much money at that time
• pollen (n) – fine powder on male reproductive cells of a plant; bees and other insects collect the pollen on their body and transfer it to female part of a plant