Tauranga Māori orchard endorses biosecurity awareness

By Mānia Clarke

A Tauranga-based Māori kiwifruit orchard says biosecurity is crucial to the survival of their orchards. This follows the launch of  Tauranga Port's biosecurity awareness launch this week.

For the 1,500 Māori owners of Ngāi Tukairangi Trust Orchard safeguards against pesticides and disease is paramount.

“It's extremely important to us,” said Ngāi Tukairangi Trust’s Bay of Plenty orchard Manager, Andrew Wood. “In the kiwifruit industry we export this crop overseas, that's where the income comes from for the Trust. We can't afford to have a ban on our crops overseas otherwise it will affect the livelihood of the Trust.”

For the second year, Tauranga Port has launched their biosecurity week to raise awareness among the Ports wider community.

“As a major port there is a biosecurity threat potential that comes through our port,” said Port of Tauranga biosecurity spokesperson, Mark Whitworth.

“There is a huge economic impact in that, that affects the Bay of Plenty as a whole region. Individual kiwifruit orchards or other individuals.”

In 2010 the outbreak of a vine-killing bacteria PSA that started at a Te Puke site caused millions in losses to the kiwifruit industry.

“As we get to a certain period of time, certain pests have a higher degree or higher rate of occlusion potential,” said Whitworth. “So whether it's Fruit Flies or Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is the one that is really on the top of the list at the moment. So we produce a pest calendar.  And it shows any particular time of the year what that high-risk pestis."

It's taken four years for the Bay of Plenty orchard to rebuild since the PSA disease. But the Ngāi Tukairangi Trust Orchard is expecting a good turnover when the new harvesting season begins in April next year.