An East Coast hemp grower has had his crop destroyed by police after they mistook his plants for illicit cannabis.
On Tuesday, a police drug squad raided Willie Kaa's property near Ruatoria and removed 16 plants, leaving him no explanation for the seizure.
Mr Kaa had been working with Hikurangi Hemp to develop medicinal cannabis products from industrial hemp plantations, and had a licence from the Ministry of Health to do so.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brenton Greville says police had apologised to Mr Kaa for the error and would reimburse him.
A Hikurangi Hemp spokesperson Manu Caddie says the plants were estimated to be worth around $16,000 based on police estimates that one cannabis plant was worth $1000.
He says it was a sad irony that the crop could have been used in some of the first New Zealand products made available to help patients under new cannabis laws.
Mr Caddie says Mr Kaa and his whanau were now going to be behind in their growing for the season and it may be too late in the hot, dry weather.
"We will be encouraging Willie to notify the Director General of Health as required under Section 38 of the Industrial Hemp Regulations that plants have been removed without authority and request the Police Commissioner investigate both the incident and the systems failure that seem to have led to this unacceptable situation."