Monday, July 15, 2024

Biosecurity giants behind NZ’s world-leading protections

Biosecurity Minister, Damien O’Connor, has announced this year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards winners, saying their skills, dedication and knowledge underpin Aotearoa’s world-leading biosecurity system – a fundamental aspect to New Zealand’s economic strength.

“It’s the fifth year we’ve celebrated those who go above and beyond to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases. These are people and organisations who help to ensure our unique way of life is protected and enhanced for future generations,” Mr O’Connor said.

AsureQuality’s Peter Wilkins (pictured, above) received the Minister’s Biosecurity Award, which recognises an individual, group or organisation that has at least 10 years of continuous outstanding contribution to biosecurity in New Zealand.

“Peter has dedicated more than 45 years to protecting our taonga. During that time he has responded to more than 80 pest incursions. These span a huge array of pathogens and pests, ranging from termites through to the painted apple moth and fruit fly incursions. His calm leadership and commitment to strengthening our biosecurity system makes him a very worthy recipient,” the Minister said.

“Aotearoa has a unique and delicate ecosystem, and nobody understands that more than Peter. His technical skills and knowledge, problem-solving and innovation in response support, and focus on iwi engagement have been critical to the success of so many biosecurity responses.

“And we’re not the only country to benefit from Peter’s expert knowledge. Many countries, including Japan, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga, are safer from biosecurity risks thanks to his dedication.”

The New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winner is maritime intelligence project ‘Starboard’ from Xerra Earth Observation Institute. The Starboard tool uses data and analytics to assess the biosecurity risk of every vessel entering New Zealand waters.

“The Xerra team realised that the risk of a vessel bringing unwanted organisms to Aotearoa is strongly related to its past journey track and characteristics of travel. They have built a multidisciplinary team of environmental, remote sensing and data scientists, software engineers and product designers to deliver a game-changing system for marine biosecurity,” Mr O’Connor said.

“New Zealand’s biosecurity systems are world-renowned and require all Kiwis to play their part. We’ve never been afraid to take on the big challenges such as our Mycoplasma bovis programme, which is progressing well toward eradication. No country has ever achieved this.

“These awards acknowledge that our food and fibre sectors, tourism, biodiversity and economy are underpinned by a strong biosecurity system and that it takes all of us in Aotearoa New Zealand to protect it now and into the future,” the Minister said.

The full list of New Zealand Biosecurity Award winners is available at

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