Home > The Body Politic > What’s the beef, guv?

What’s the beef, guv?




The recent spectacle of our meat exports to China stuck at their ports raised eyebrows, hackles… and a few questions.

The news broke on TV3 on 17 May,

New Zealand’s beef and lamb is still being blocked from entering China.

The meat industry says it’s a huge concern and is already costing a lot of money.

The issue was revealed on 3 News last night and it’s understood the problem arose because Chinese authorities weren’t informed of the name change of a New Zealand government ministry.

The meat is not allowed into the country and hasn’t been now for nearly a week.

Acknowledgment: TV3 –  Meat held up in China costing NZ industry

The reason given, at the same time the story broke was that there was confusion over “paperwork”,

The problem is believed to have arisen after the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries recently became the Ministry of Primary Industries and Chinese border controls aren’t recognising the new names and logos on the export certificates.

The Government says they are working hard to resolve the issue.

“We’ve got MFAT officials and MPI officials working around the clock to resolve this,” says Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye. “We’ve been providing technical documentation through to Chinese authorities and we remain confident that this will be resolved in the near future.”

Acknowledgment:  IBID

It’s interesting that the TV3 report stated, “The problem is believed to have arisen after the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries recently became the Ministry of Primary Industries and Chinese border controls aren’t recognising the new names and logos on the export certificates“.


Because MAF (Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries)  became MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries,  well over a year ago,


MAF to become Ministry for Primary Industries

Acknowledgment: Beehive – MAF to become Ministry for Primary Industries


Note the dates in the Beehive media release: 30 April 2012. One would assume that all forms, letterhead, and other paperwork would have been re-printed in time for the 30 April launch of the new  Ministry of Primary Industries? Government departments and ministries are noted for spending considerable sums on new stationary.

It seems curious then, that the Chinese authorities have only now realised that the MAF had been replaced by a completely different name, acronym, and logo? Why now?

If I was of a suspicious mind (and why should anyone be suspicious of this National government?), I would be wondering if this recent event had anything to do with the blocking of our meat exports to China,


NZ close to Taiwan free trade agreement

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – NZ close to Taiwan free trade agreement


The above story goes on to state,

Officially, both Taiwan and China claim sovereignty over the other, a situation which has maintained since the Communist Party took control of mainland China and established the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

China makes adhering to a One-China policy a pre-condition of diplomatic relations.

New Zealand’s relations with Taiwan are now maintained through an office of the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce of Taipei.

Sources say the issue of free trade with Taiwan was raised when Prime Minister John Key led a major trade delegation to China in April, as part of an established ”no surprises” policy of keeping Beijing informed of our relations with China.

Trade Minister Tim Groser declined to comment.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Mainland China claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, which it regards as a “renegade province”. Had it not been for US support, China would have re-occupied the island as it did with Tibet in the 1950s – over which it also claims suzerainty.

A suspicious mind would wonder if something has gone awry between China and New Zealand, and the former was flexing it’s super-muscle to remind the Beehive just who’s boss around here.

It just seems to much of a coincidence that the blocking of our exports happened at a time when NZ officials are negotiating a free trade agreement with Taiwan.

It’s interesting that, as the above report states,  “New Zealand does not officially recognise Taiwan as a country“.

If so – then did Beijing demand a voice in any FTA deal with Taipei?

And were NZ officials (or politicians) foolish enough to dismiss those demands?

On Radio NZ, Primary Industries minister, Nathan Guy stated,

“I’m very disappointed in my officials – issuing export certification is really their core business. And I’m disappointed in how this issue has come to bear. Normally, we have a very strong system and this is very unusual.”

However speaking on Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint programme, Nathan Guy refused to be drawn on whether any disciplinary action will be taken against staff for the blunder.

Mr Guy said that was a matter for MPI director-general Wayne McNee.

“By and large, MPI do fantastic work and we’ve had an issue here, and I’ve asked the director-general to get to the bottom of it.”

What’s the bet that this entire issue sinks quietly out of sight and nothing is ever heard about it again?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 May 2013.





Beehive: MAF to become Ministry for Primary Industries (6 March 2012)

Fairfax Media: NZ close to Taiwan free trade agreement (19 May 2013)

TV3:  Meat held up in China costing NZ industry (18 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Minister blames officials for meat blockade in China (23 May 2013)



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  1. di\
    20 June 2013 at 8:54 am

    Thanks Frank. It used to be that reporting of this sort was found in the main stream media and people like you found employment reporting on behalf of the public interest. I just mention this so any of your younger readers can understand just how much the media has become a propaganda piece for elite interests.

  2. 20 June 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Ditto for me Frank – thank goodness for people like you. Would be good to ask this coming up to the next elections…..

  3. 20 June 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks, Di\ and Neil…

    It seems, as predicted, that the p[roblem is slowly “goping away”, as I thought it might. Next up – will NZ complete a FTA with Taiwan? Either that, as wdell with slowly die away, or PRC will have more say in the matter.

    My bet is that any FTA negiotiations with Taiwan will fade away and instead our FTA with PRC will apply to Taiwan as well…

  4. Priss
    20 June 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Or, they just stuffed up???

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