Kiwifruit growers who lost millions due to PSA take lead in Supreme Court battle against Government

Exactly 10 years ago, the kiwifruit disease PSA was let into the country, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

The Government was found responsible for it getting across the border, but it won't pay compensation. 

The case is now headed to the Supreme Court. 

PSA changed Chris Dunn's life. A decade on, his wife Jenny still can't talk about it. 

"This week she's been really depressed," Dunn said through tears.

The couple lost millions, and were forced to downsize and move to Kawerau. PSA ruined their retirement. 

"Within the first 12 months we lost approximately $3 million - but then we've lost income since that point as well," he said.

PSA decimated the Haggards' orchard too, costing them more than $1 million. 

"We had to move out of our house, rent it out and move into a shed," he explained.

Another retirement ruined, they moved to Australia to drive tractors - a job Lee did as a 20-year-old. Forty years on from then, he's doing 12-hour night shifts in the outback because of the disease.

It's the Government's fault. The court of appeal ruled that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was negligent in allowing PSA-infected pollen from China into the country.

However, a Government department can't legally be held financially liable for losses. Instead, an individual employee would need to be identified for specific liability. 

Compare that to Mycoplasma bovis. 

"The Government has helped them out, and there was none of that for us kiwifruit growers," said John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chair.

The fight for compensation is going all the way to the Supreme Court - a class action of 212 growers. 

"For their honourability, they need to - that's as simple as it gets. We believe we've got a strong case thus the reason we're going the whole hog on it."

PSA's infected at least 70 percent of orchards and counting. Dunn found it in one on Thursday.

Ten years on and the disease still cripples kiwifruit crops. Current estimates for the cost of it range from $500 million to more than $1 billion - money the Government may never have to pay. 

"That would be disgusting, if the Government can't look after the people that have been devastated by their mistake."

The Supreme Court will hear their case in February.