Biosecurity officers have raided the Auckland Botanic Gardens, apparently looking for an exotic relation to the kauri tree that may have been illegally introduced to the country.
The homes of the gardens' curator, Jack Hobbs, and veteran Albany ecologist Graeme Platt were also targeted by Ministry of Primary Industries staff in simultaneous raids just after dawn on Thursday.
Officers were believed to be looking for evidence of agathis silbae, an exotic member of the kauri tree family native to several Pacific islands.
Hobbs said he had been told by an Auckland Council lawyer not to speak to the media. A council spokeswoman also refused to comment.
Platt said those behind the raids were "plant Nazis" influenced by an "idiot New Yorker".