A Court has ruled that the Ministry of Primary Industries must hand over thousands of documents to an environmental group in relation to the export of ancient swamp kauri.
The Northland Environmental Protection Society is taking MPI to court over the way in which precious kauri logs buried deep in Northland swamps are being sent overseas, mainly to China.
MPI had refused to hand over more than 9000 emails relating to the issue, as part of discovery for the case. But a judge has ruled today, that "there is more than ample foundation for relevance in respect of the documents sought."
Environmentalists have long said huge slabs of ancient kauri are being sent overseas as so-called table tops, which they say goes against the rules which state you can only export finished products.
The Judge also stated that based on the evidence he's seen so far, there appears to be evidence of illegal activity. Judge Woodhouse says "This evidence, as it presently stands, appears to indicate widespread evasion of the prohibitions in the Act relating to swamp kauri, and that concerns in that regard have been publicly expressed over some years."
The Green Party has joined in the criticism of MPI, saying it appears the Ministry has tried to hide what's going on in the swamp kauri industry.
In a statement, MPI says it will fully comply with the Court's ruling and release the emails.