One million containers move through the Port of Tauranga every year making them a hiding spot for illicit drugs, Police Minister Paula Bennett says. 

During a visit to Tauranga Police Station on Wednesday, Bennett said New Zealand's busiest port was being used for smuggling.

New Zealand Targets Drug Smuggling

"It is something to be expected," she said. "It's happening all over our ports in New Zealand. There is no doubt more drugs are getting into the country."

Paula Bennett visited the Tauranga Police Station on Wednesday to discuss an escalating strategy in the war against gangs.

She was in Tauranga to talk about the establishment of a new organised crime unit, based in Tauranga, which would tackle organised crime head on.

The unit been tasked with seizing $400 million worth of criminal assets over the next four years. 

Following Bennett's comments a Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said drug detection operations were routinely undertaken at the port but, to maintain operational secrecy they were unable to disclose specifics. 

"We work very closely with the various agencies and authorities that police New Zealand borders for regulatory compliance, biosecurity protection and criminal activity," she said.

"We have a proactive working relationship with the NZ Police, Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries and other agencies that work in detection and prevention."

Meanwhile, Bennett said gangs were expanding operations in New Zealand as the price Kiwi's pay well for narcotics.

"We pay more for drugs than other areas of the world," she said. 

While more efforts were being made to stop drugs entering the country, drug users might find themselves left out in the cold as Bennett said additional rehabilitation centres were not the answer to the country's growing addiction problem.

Instead she said family led initiatives would take preference, although Bennett admitted shed never had any experience with anyone dealing with meth addiction.

"We need community led initiatives around education and helping families identity at risk family members earlier," she said. 

"There are a lot of myths around rehabilitation that you can only do it in a facility for 16 weeks.

"It is possible to get off P in a positive environment support from family and friends. A lot of people have overcome P addiction away from residential rehab."

Rehabilitation centres report residential beds for methamphetamine addiction were usually full of people wanting help.  

Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust manager Donna Blair said "they are the easiest beds to fill" and there needs to be a continuum of care options for people seeking rehabilitation. 

"I don't completely disagree [with Bennett's stance] but people with addiction have a right to care," she said. 

"Some will do well rehabilitating from home but there are many that need more intensive treatment."

Source: Stuff