Flower growers protest NZ lockdowns
Flower growers have given away thousands of flowers on the steps of New Zealand's parliament to protest COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Auckland's growers are suffering during the four-week lockdown, with flowers not declared an essential business, leaving florists and growers unable to trade.
"It's heartbreaking," grower and seller Jacqui Whelan, of Hill Road Blooms, told AAP.
"Auckland growers have got thousands and thousands of flowers every day that they can't do anything with. Can't even give them away.
"They have to be harvested which means they're working for nothing at the moment harvesting all these flowers and then they go straight in the compost."
New Zealand's tough level four lockdown allows food producers to supply supermarkets and dairies, but leaves flower producers with no way of taking their perishable goods to market.
"Growers spend months and months growing their flowers for sale. And it's a use it or lose it product," Melissa Hoey of Upper Hutt's Bloomin Beautiful NZ said.
"Flowers are the only perishable item that have fallen through the cracks.
"Nurseries have been given dispensation you know to keep their plants growing, but they're not going to lose the plants like we lose our flowers.
"Once they bloom you need to sell them, otherwise they go to waste. We're not even allowed to gift them ... it's tragic. And a huge loss of revenue."
On Tuesday, growers joined forces in Wellington, taking flowers from a Manawatu grower to protest the pain being felt by Auckland producers.
They gave a bouquet to Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, who is responsible for providing advice to Jacinda Ardern's government on who can trade during lockdown.
Ms Ardern said she had sympathy for the flower growers but the rules wouldn't be changed.
"I can only imagine how how tough it would be," he said.
"Our goal at this point is just to limit as much contact between people as possible ... it's all about cumulative risks.
"In Auckland we've actually had a number of cases that have happened in those food production environments so we try and reduce risk simply by having as few people who need to be working as possible."