Since the HSNO Act came into force in 1998, no plants have been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority under its Full Release process.
With an application fee for Full Release costing close to $30,000 and an uncertain chance of success, over the past 20 years plant importers have simply avoided using the system. But NZ Plant Producers have always believed that to change the system, we have to use the system and we're going to give it a go.
We succeeded in getting approval from the EPA tor Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, or mini Monstera as it's sometimes known in trade. It was approved under the EPA’s Rapid Assessment criteria in January 2020 and is legally able to be propagated and sold in New Zealand. It joins the ranks of a select few other species which have been approved under the Rapid Assessment process: the Wollemi Pine, some Agathis for controlled planting in the Auckland Botanic Gardens, Clivia and sterile Miscanthus grass.
With a generous donation to help with the application costs, NZPPI is planning to take a Full Release application through EPA on behalf of members. We will be using houseplants as our test case – Pilea peperomioides, two species of Anthurium, six species of Peperomia, Calathea musaica and Macodes petola.
Many of these plants are in high demand and frequently traded in New Zealand. We believe there is a good chance that some of them have been in New Zealand for a long time but they’re stuck in a kind of ‘no-man’s land’ – we can’t prove they were here before 1998 and so they’re not approved by the EPA for sale, but they’re widespread amongst the houseplant community and are traded online and on social media platforms.
Our aim is to get them officially approved for sale in New Zealand, so that commercial plant producers can propagate them and make them available to the public legally and at a reasonable price.
There is massive interest from the public in new and exciting plants and we want to create a pathway through the EPA process and share our learning to benefit future users of the system. We want others to go through the swing-door after us, so we can get more new plants approved for New Zealanders to enjoy.