Supreme Court rules swamp Kauri cannot be exported

The Supreme Court has ruled that rare swamp Kauri wood cannot be exported unless it has been processed into a product.

The export of the wood, only found in New Zealand, has been at the centre of a lengthy battle between environmental groups and the ministry that has oversight. 

A buried treasure known as black gold hauled up from the depths of Northland swamps after thousands of years.

Today the Supreme Court ruling it's being illegally shipped off shore - a victory for environmental groups who fought to prove export rules were being exploited.

"Absolutely ecstatic about this judgement, we've been right all along," NEPS President, Fiona Furrell, told Newshub.

The law says raw logs can't be exported however, stumps can and so can finished products but now the supreme court has cleared up the issue around large slabs of Kauri that had previously been sent offshore described as table tops.

"A table top, which is not a product in its own right, cannot be exported under the act, logs with surface carving are unlikely to meet the definition," Supreme Court Justice O'Regan said.

That includes Maori carvings which can no longer be exported. 

"I think it's important for all involved that there is clarity on what can be exported and what can't so that we can all move forward," MPI Spokesperson, Julie Collins, said.

"We took swamp kauri to court but we were fighting for all native timbers and now no native timber can go out as an unfinished product," Ms Furrell said.

It's the end of a nine year battle for the NEPS to protect an ancient and unique timber.