Biosecurity New Zealand welcomes 23 new quarantine officers and four new detector dog handlers this month, bolstering the country’s frontline protection against pests and diseases in time for the pre-Christmas mail rush and peak international visitor season.
Biosecurity New Zealand’s Northern Regional Commissioner, Michael Inglis, says the quarantine officers graduated in Auckland today after completing a 12-week training programme.
“The training gives the officers a comprehensive understanding of the threats to our environment and primary industries, and the skills they need to inspect and make biosecurity clearance decisions about goods accompanying travellers to New Zealand,” Mr Inglis says.
“The new recruits are introduced to the role that quarantine officers play as guardians for our way of life.”
All of the new quarantine officers will initially be deployed at Auckland International Airport. To bolster ranks across the motu, an additional 19 officers (eight in Christchurch, seven in Wellington and four in Queenstown) will graduate early next month.
The new detector dog handlers will join Biosecurity New Zealand’s border team next week, after graduating from their own 12-week training programme. The trainees have been learning together how to manage the demands of detection in busy international airports and mail centres.
Two of the handlers will start work in Auckland, either at the airport or International Mail Centre. The remaining two will be deployed at Wellington and Christchurch airports.
“The new officers and handlers will play a critical part in protecting our economy and precious natural environment from potentially harmful pests and diseases,” Mr Inglis adds.
In addition to future-proofing its two-legged border team in these ways, Biosecurity New Zealand is delighted to announce the recent arrival a new litter of four-legged detection recruits.
Last month, Mistral delivered four healthy pups – three girls and a boy. All are progressing well and, as they grow, will gradually be introduced to the environments and disciplines that will make them top-class pest and disease detectors.
This summer, a key focus for Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline staff is keeping out pests and diseases that could have a devastating impact on our economy and environment – things like exotic fruit flies and brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).
“These potential intruders are especially active in summer and pose a direct threat to our hard-working growers and farmers, who underpin rural communities and our economic wellbeing,” Mr Inglis says.
“We urge all travellers entering the country to be vigilant and follow all biosecurity instructions carefully.”