Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor launched Biosecurity New Zealand at the Zealandia Eco-Sanctuary in Wellington today.
It is one of four new business units created within the Ministry for Primary Industries to create a stronger focus on key areas of work, along with Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety.
“New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna are the foundation of our valued primary sector and part of who we are as Kiwis,” says Damien O’Connor.
“When I began this role six months ago it was clear biosecurity was our number one challenge with several responses under way including Mycoplasma bovis, Myrtle Rust, Ostrae Bonamia and Kauri Dieback, plus we began turning around ships carrying the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.
“Pest incursions and disease outbreaks threaten our biodiversity. With increasing pressures such as the growing scale of trade, more visitors from abroad and climate change challenges, we need a greater focus on biosecurity.
“Biosecurity New Zealand provides a single point of accountability and leadership for New Zealanders who care deeply about the sustainability, safety and health of our environment.
“It brings together some 900 Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff into one focused business unit, which will provide the direction, resources and people-power to protect our country from biosecurity threats and respond quickly to any outbreaks.
“I am also excited today to announce that Biosecurity New Zealand will establish a new Biosecurity Intelligence Team to provide earlier warning of biosecurity risks.
“The team will use new, smarter, technologies and skilled analysts to source and look at all available information on overseas pest and diseases.
“Earlier signals of biosecurity threats will help our border staff to make better decisions to target air passengers and cargo that are most likely to carry risk goods, as well as those who deliberately flout New Zealand’s biosecurity rules.
“Biosecurity New Zealand supports Biosecurity 2025 – which is building a biosecurity team of 4.7 million, encouraging all New Zealanders to participate in biosecurity.
“Biosecurity is a challenge for us all – it requires vigilance from everyone and it is vital that every New Zealander is pitching in to protect our environment, way of life, primary industries and the things we enjoy as New Zealanders,” says O’Connor.
Setting up the four units cost $6.8 million with operating costs of $2.3m a year and is funded through reprioritised spending within MPI at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
Fisheries New Zealand will be launched by Minister Nash on 1 May, New Zealand Food Safety by Minister O’Connor on 7 May and Forestry New Zealand by Minister Jones on 11 May.