Pests and diseases
What to look out for
Pests and diseases can ruin our way of life. From our enjoyment of the outdoors, to the kai we eat, the water we drink and our taonga native plants and animals. Pests and diseases could also have a devastating impact on our economy.
New Zealand maintains a list of around 15,000 unwanted plant, animal and aquatic pests and diseases. Our biosecurity system is constantly planning and adjusting for new threats.
What are pests and diseases?
Harmful plant pests (weeds), animal pests and diseases are biosecurity threats. They come in different forms, including:
- Plants that can overrun our crops, native bush, waterways and marine environments
- Bugs and parasites that can attack people, animals or plants, and spread disease
- Pests that can harm our native animals and plants
- Marine invaders that can interfere with local species
- Pathogens (organisms that can causes disease)—making plants or animals sick, or may even kill them.
Keeping pests and diseases out of New Zealand
As an island nation, we rely on both our imports and exports to maintain our way of life. With so much happening at our borders, the risks of pests and diseases entering New Zealand are high.
The world is full of pests and diseases that are not in New Zealand. We have strong biosecurity systems that identify new risks, monitor entry points and help us respond if anything shows up here. One way all of us can help is by staying vigilant and reporting anything unusual we think we've found. We can also help by making sure that we're not—intentionally or accidentally—bringing any pests or diseases into New Zealand.
Controlling and removing pests and diseases
There are currently 24,000 pests registered in the Official New Zealand Pest Register (ONZPR). There are many programmes and projects around the country to contain or get rid of them. As a team of 5 million, we have a successful record of eradicating some harmful pests over the last 20 years. This includes the painted apple moth, pea weevil and Queensland fruit fly.
Pests and diseases New Zealand's currently facing include:
- Plant and forest pests and diseases such as kauri dieback and velvetleaf. These can destroy crops and damage our native plants.
- Marine pests and diseases like oyster parasite Bonamia ostreae, Mediterranean fanworm and invasive seaweeds— can damage marine life and threaten the kai moana we all enjoy eating.
- Freshwater pests and diseases such as didymo, koi carp, oxygen weed and hornwort—can impact popular recreation activities, tourism, our drinking water and native species.
- Other threats such as wilding pines, wild rabbits, wasps, wallabies and Mycoplasma bovis—put our precious ecosystems at risk and threaten our horticulture and agriculture industries. They can also prevent native plants and animals from flourishing.
Microscopic pests and diseases can be invisible to our naked eye and it doesn't take much for them to spread. They can hitch a ride on our equipment and gear, our vehicles and vessels, our clothing and footwear, and even our animals and pets.
We may be harbouring harmful weeds and pests in our gardens. Those attractive garden plant clippings we're sharing could become harmful to our native bush and ecosystem if they are allowed to spread.
For tips on what you can do in your backyard to protect New Zealand's biosecurity, check out Weedbusters.
As tāngata (people) we are responsible for the spread of some animal pests. For example, our pets can become pests if allowed to roam, if they escape, or if they are set free. Find out more about how we can stop our pets from becoming pests.
We all have a part to play to stop the spread of these pests and diseases.
Identifying and reporting pests and diseases
If we all stay aware of risks and diseases, we can stop pests before they have a chance to spread. Ao noa, pōnoa. 24/7.
To report suspected new land, fresh water or marine pests, or diseases in plants or animals, call the Biosecurity New Zealand Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.
Kiwis report about 10,000 suspected pests and diseases to Biosecurity New Zealand every year.
Managing pests and diseases—Eliminating the Queensland fruit fly
A small number of Queensland fruit flies were discovered around the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland suburb of Northcote in early 2019. Their presence was a risk to our horticulture industry. They can make fruit and vegetables inedible and unfit for export.
A huge collaborative effort between the community, local authorities, industry partners and Biosecurity New Zealand eliminated this pest from Tāmaki Makaurau.
Tackling invasive pests using environmental DNA wins at New Zealand Biosecurity Awards
Exceptional biosecurity leadership and its role in protecting our economic security were celebrated at the 2022 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.
Governors and CEO guidance launched
The significance of biosecurity to the New Zealand economy and the business community is underscored by its top priority ranking for eleven years straight in the KPMG agribusiness agenda.
Tough competition for 2022 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards Finalists
The 2022 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards finalists are here, and competition for all eight categories has been the toughest in the award’s history.
Learn more about pests and diseases
Pest and disease handbook for NZ potato growers
To help growers and agronomists to identify accurately pests and diseases.
New Zealand marine pest identification guide
This guide contains information about marine pest species that we don't want in New Zealand.