Botanists outraged over raid
Sat, 20 Oct 2012 6:13p.m.
By Simon Shepherd
Simultaneous early morning raids carried out by the Ministry of Primary Industries on two well known botanists have been slammed as over-the-top bureaucracy.
The Ministry is refusing to say why it targeted the botanists' homes and the Auckland Botanic Gardens.
But one of those targets is pointing the finger at a colleague in America.
It wasn't quite a Dotcom style bust, but botanist Graeme Platt's still calling it a dawn raid.
“I was sitting inside in the lounge behind my computer in my undies,” says Mr Platt. “I had just got up and turned the computer on and a police car came roaring down the drive with four behind it with a total of seven people.”
More than a week ago, Ministry of Primary Industries investigators took away Mr Platt's computer, searched his records and scoured his property and never said why.
“It is the most outrageous thing I had eve seen and I never dreamed that growing plants in New Zealand could result in this Nazi behaviour,” says Mr Platt.
Investigators also raided the home of Jack Hobbs, curator of the Auckland Botanic Gardens, and seized records from the gardens offices – actions described as over-the-top by other botanists.
“To raid the records officer and take her equipment away is I think utterly outrageous,” says botanist Dr Keith Hammett.
All the Ministry will say is that it's investigating the possible illegal importation of plant material.
The Ministry denies it was a dawn raid, saying it happened at 7am, although record show the sun rose that morning at 6:42am. The Ministry says it visits at that time to make sure that people are at home.
Mr Platt, an expert on kauri trees, believes it's a simple naming mix up involving a Pacific kauri he's growing.
“That’s perfectly legal,” says Mr Platt. “It’s been in the country long before 1997.”
That year a list of plants in New Zealand was published. If a plant isn’t named, it’s illegal.
But the kauri has more than one name. An American botanist called John Silba named it after himself. That's when another Dotcom-like conspiracy theory flowers.
3 News rang Mr Silba in Florida, but could not get through.
The Ministry denies the investigation was sparked by an American botanist, but won’t give more detail. Mr Platt says it's a farce that didn’t deserve a dawn raid.
“I can’t think of any lower form of life than maggots and they are maggots,” he says.
He's now waiting for investigators to get back to him and asks if they can just ring him next time.
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27/10/2012 2:03:57 p.m.
Yeah go MPI, Don't need another Psa or Varroa in this country!
25/10/2012 8:16:29 p.m.
It's comming wrote:
Wait till they arrest you for a home garden.
23/10/2012 7:55:41 a.m.
Smug gits the ministry saying it wasn't a dawn raid because it was at 7am, and not 6.42am. Wow so precise on that but, getting why they went there wrong. Who the hell is making stupid decisions like this?. The botantist who had undies on was lucky, because the cops would not let you cover up to preserve your dignity until they thought you had been embarrassed enough. Yep gestapo tactics alright. But there is a lower life form than maggots and being a botantists he should know that. My suggestion is a cop or politician. ha ha.
22/10/2012 10:42:58 a.m.
the DR wrote:
what lies did they tall a judge to get this warrant or is the FBI behind this to
21/10/2012 10:16:25 p.m.
No to fascism in NZ wrote:
Fifi is right. The Gestapo is alive and well in NZ in the form of the NZ Police. This country has become a police state under this corrupt fascist govt.
21/10/2012 10:16:00 p.m.
thats a good waste of tax payers money,wish they,d put that much effort into something worth while,think the police force been watching to much americian tv shows
20/10/2012 9:00:54 p.m.
This just shows that NZ is becoming more and more like Nazi Germany. We have a bunch of thugs running out government departments and I have heard of a top NZ lawyer refering to them as working like the mafia.
20/10/2012 7:25:26 p.m.
Bret McKay wrote:
This all sounds like a classic case of beurocratic bumbling to me . I would like to know just how much money this has cost the N.Z. taxpayers,and what form of punishment the ignorant imbecile who initiated this raid will get. This form of "Kauri" tree has been in the country for over 50 years,under its correct name. It wouldnt difficult for anyone with the most basic knowledge of botany to acertain this. I wonder just what sort of credentuals some of these people in volved in this raid have. As for the police involvement, I hope that they were well enough informed to disinfect their footwear before entering any area where Agathis species were growing, if not, then it makes the whole episode a total farce, and further demonstrates the ignorance of these buffoons.
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