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What is Bio Security doing in New Zealand – Backpacking Tips

What is Bio Security in New Zealand for

The Bio Security (also called biosecurity) is there to protect New Zealand. To protect and minimize risks for New Zealand. Biosecurity in New Zealand focuses on stopping pests and diseases at the border before they enter New Zealand. It also works to manage or eradicate the impact of existing pests and diseases. With the help of the New Zealanders, they ensure that the unique environment and the value of New Zealand's nature is preserved.

 

Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

 

Where do I come into contact with New Zealand Biosecurity

New Zealand Biosecurity operates mainly at airports and other places where people and goods from other countries enter New Zealand. Besides airports, Biosecurity also operates at ports of entry and ensures that pests are found.

When entering New Zealand at the airport you have to indicate on the arrival card for New Zealand if you are carrying certain items. For example, if you have food in your luggage, you must declare it regardless of the level of risk. If you don't do this you risk an expensive fine of 400NZD and the destruction of the corresponding food.

If you have indicated everything correctly, you will normally be asked what you are carrying, after which the officer will decide whether he considers it risky or will let you enter the country. In the worst case the corresponding food will be destroyed. Similar rules apply to all outdoor items. These must also be declared and will be inspected on site. If necessary, they will be cleaned or confiscated. So, clean your outdoor items (tents, hiking boots, sports equipment etc.) thoroughly before you enter New Zealand. As long as you have declared everything properly, there is no risk of a fine.

 

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

 

New Zealand Biosecurity History

As early as 1890 the first officers started checking goods imported into New Zealand. And after the Second World War, their range and control were significantly expanded. From then on there were quarantine controls for the entry of people and goods. No matter if by ship or plane. This story continues to this day and the controls are finer and stricter than ever before.

 

The first arrivals in New Zealand

New Zealand, which shares no land borders with other nations, is one of the most isolated places on earth, safer than most countries from unwanted diseases and pests. Its plants and animals have lived in isolation for millions of years, although wind and ocean currents have blown birds, insects, marine life and seeds here. Polynesian travellers, who arrived about 700-800 years ago, brought food plants such as kumara, sweet potatoes, taro and pumpkins, along with the Pacific rat and the Polynesian dog. The Maori colonists rapidly changed the native ecology of the islands by deforesting about 30 percent of the landscape and hunting many bird species to extinction.

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European visitors accelerated this process of change from the late eighteenth century onwards, beginning with the release of pigs, goats and sheep by the crews of James Cook. Soon Maori were enthusiastically growing potatoes and herding pigs, trading them with the Europeans for muskets and other coveted goods. The settlers who flocked to the country from the 1840s onwards brought a variety of plants and animals. The economy of the settlers depended on the cultivation of plants and animals to feed themselves and earn a certain export income. The European settlers were keen to cut farms out of the bush, which included importing livestock and grass seed to maximise the yield of the crops, and birds and ornamental plants to make the new land look more familiar.

The settlers brought in livestock such as cows and pigs, crops such as wheat and fruit such as apples and pears. They also sowed English grasses, planted British trees, released British birds and introduced game such as deer, rabbits and fish. Some species were introduced to control other imported species; weasels and stoats to control the rabbit population, and small birds to eat imported caterpillars. These soon became pests in their own right, and some imported garden plants became harmful weeds that choked the native species. Other pests were accidentally added, including the Norwegian black rat, British slugs and snails, clothes moths, thistles, fleas and houseflies.

 

How biosecurity in New Zealand started

In 1892, the liberal government created the Ministry of Agriculture and charged it with the protection of New Zealand's livestock industry. Refrigerated shipping had created a lucrative trade in New Zealand meat and dairy products in Britain, but further success in this market would depend on the country's exports meeting high standards. The Liberals passed the Fruit and Garden Pests Act (1896) and the Harmful Weeds Act (1900), and these laws (together with their subsequent amendments) enabled the Ministry to block the import of diseased or infested plants into New Zealand ports or their distribution within the country. From 1899, the Department set up fumigation chambers at major ports where imported plants could be gassed to kill any insects hidden within. The Livestock Act (1893) empowered the Department to quarantine all live animals arriving in New Zealand for disease testing and gave it extensive powers to destroy any sick animals found on New Zealand farms.

The department's livestock and horticulture inspectors took over the inspection work from the customs officers who had previously carried out quarantine inspections. Before release to their importers, livestock and live plants were sequestered in secure quarantine areas to determine if pests or diseases were present. Horticultural inspectors inspected imported fruit on the quay and gradually refined their procedures. They occasionally met with resistance from importers who wanted to speed up the process, and their restrictions on imported produce sometimes played into tariff wars with Australia.

 

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

 

The story from the Second World War onwards

The challenges in the field of border security have multiplied after the Second World War. Before that, all people and goods arrived by ship. On the main trade route between Britain and Europe, ships generally came from well-regulated markets and spent most of their journey through cool or temperate latitudes in weather cool enough to kill most pests. Threats such as termite infestation and those caused by debarked wood and dunnage (low-grade wood transported by ships to secure cargoes) continued to exist, but officials considered the risks to be manageable.

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From the late 1930s, the growth of commercial long-haul aviation changed this picture. Airlines established new services, first with seaplanes and then with land-based aircraft. An insect could survive a short flight much more easily than a voyage. Airplanes became bigger, faster and, more critically, more attractive to insects. Pre-war experiments in the northern hemisphere had shown that living insects and their eggs could easily survive air travel. In an experiment in 1946, the Royal New Zealand Air Force flew cage mosquitoes from Japan to Whenuapai. Many of the insects survived and were fit enough to reproduce during a northern summer.

 

How biosecurity evolved in modern times

In 1952, the plant quarantine regulations introduced the basic formalities that are still valid in our country: reporting forms and the inspection of baggage, cargo and the aircraft itself. Quarantine inspectors became increasingly interested in the items that international passengers carried on their arrival, especially small quantities of potentially contaminated fruit, meat that could contain animal diseases, and larger items (such as cars, furniture and ornaments) that could hide pests or diseases in the ground. Inspectors also inspected parcels in post offices and searched for packages containing food or plants.

 

The inspectors struggled to meet the ever-increasing demands of growing passenger traffic and increasing imports of bulk goods. Work at airports was growing exponentially and inspectors were under pressure to interview passengers and spray the planes as quickly as possible. The challenges of the aviation age led to the establishment of the Port Agriculture Inspection Service in 1960, a self-contained quarantine service that for the first time placed all the country's inspectors under centralised management and ushered in two decades of development and growth that resulted in the modern border inspection system.

 

Videos of Biosecurity from past and present times

Biosecurity began early on to generate attention with media content as well. Nowadays, even on the plane, when approaching New Zealand, the Biosecurity information is displayed directly. Here we have some example videos for you.

1955

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2019

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2019 Biosecurity video during approach to New Zealand

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Questions, comments or ideas

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