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Swank fined for fruit fault

Actress loses fight to avoid $163 fine in New Zealand
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hilary Swank has been fined $163 for bringing fruit into New Zealand, after getting thumbs down from judges in an appeal.

Swank was issued notice of a fine for breaching New Zealand’s strict quarantine laws when she failed to declare an apple and an orange when she arrived at Auckland International Airport Jan. 15 on a flight from Los Angeles. She appealed the penalty to a court.

On Wednesday, the Manukau District Court advised the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry that Swank’s appeal had been rejected and that she had been fined $142 plus costs of $21.

Swank had written to the ministry seeking a court hearing to have her fine expunged.

“After my 20-hour flight I simply forgot I had one orange and one apple. I do apologize sincerely,” the Oscar-winning actress said in her handwritten letter.

Thousands of visitors arriving in New Zealand each year are fined on the spot for not declaring agricultural products such as fruit. Few contest the fines.

New Zealand is largely free of insect pests that cause billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock in other parts of the world. The country has extremely strict quarantine guidelines to keep such pests from entering the country.