2022 Biosecurity Awards finalists

2022 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards Finalists

We are delighted to announce the Biosecurity Awards finalists for 2022 - our biosecurity champions!

The Biosecurity Awards winners will be announced at an awards dinner at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland on Monday 31 October 2022.

Tickets are $125 excluding GST. Please note the tables are set for ten people each and seating is pre-allocated.


There are a number of nearby hotels if you require accommodation:

  • The Pullman Hotel
  • Quest Newmarket
  • Ramada Newmarket
  • Cordis
  • Stanford Plaza
  • Ridges Hotel
  • SkyCity Hotel
  • SkyCity Grand
  • City Life

The Ministerial award recognising contribution to biosecurity over many years and the Supreme Award winner will also be announced at the Awards event.

The finalists’ project and nomination summaries below are as provided by the entrants.

BioHeritage Challenge Community Award

Environment Southland - Jobs for Nature Fiordland Weed buffer

The Fiordland Buffer Zone project by Environment Southland is a mission to prevent two exotic weed pests from entering the Fiordland National Park.

The Jobs for Nature initiative has removed Darwin’s barberry and cotoneaster from almost almost 2000 hectares within the 1km buffer zone around the park and the Te Anau township.

Cotoneaster and Darwin’s barberry populations on both private and crown land outside the national park have been increasing over the years and were beginnning to threaten the national park.

Thanks to two passionate locals who motivated a broad range of local tourism operators to join the project, the scope was expanded so over 13,000 hours of work has been completed by the team since February 2021.

This biosecurity work has meant millions of berries and plants have been killed, protecting one of New Zealand’s most prestigious national parks and preserving the home of many endangered species that are unique to Southland and Aotearoa.

Pest Free Howick Ward

Pest Free Howick Ward is a programme aiming to free the entire Howick Ward in Auckland from exotic animal and plant pests.

Members of the public, schools, preschools, Iwi, community groups, ethnic groups collaborate in this project focused on education and action. This supports a dynamic approach to biosecurity action, empowering locals to get hands-on in pest animal trapping and pest plant identification and removal.

Howick is within close proximity of the predator-free Treasure Islands in Hauraki Gulf. Many of the projects underway as part of the programme are aimed at helping protect the predator free status of these islands, limiting pests travelling from the mainland shores.

Since the start of 2021, there have been 1,959 catches from 922 active traps in the Howick Ward area. All of that mahi is already returning populations of kaka, ruru, pīwakawaka, tūī and kererū back to New Zealand’s fifth largest urban area.

Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Group - Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Programme

In 2021, The Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Group (WCG) successfully undertook wilding conifer control across 53,717.77 hectares of challenging terrain.

WCG runs the Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Programme through a longstanding partnership between the Queenstown community, Queenstown Lakes District Council, and the Department of Conservation. The group have established a solid reputation within a Whakatipu community as varied as the climate in the area. They have the support of landowners from huge high country stations through to lifestyle blocks and suburban communities, as well as the recreation and tourism communities.

The group have also gained the support of the Otago Regional Council and Land Information New Zealand to combat wilding tree spread in the Whakatipu area.

The key to the success of the Programme has been the passion, commitment and leadership provided by the community through WCG's effective management system. This system enables the majority of funding to be spent on the ground, helping turn the community’s dreams of ‘wilding free landscapes’ into a reality.

New Zealand Biosecurity Māori Award

Kauri Ora

Kauri Ora is a unique collaboration of four Te Tai Tokerau iwi with a shared vision to ensure our kauri ngahere thrive for future generations. Te Roroa, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kuri and Ngātiwai are working together with a suite of tools including science, Matauranga Māori and Rongoa Māori to protect and maintain our taonga species, kauri.

The Iwi Collaboration for Kauri Action work with Crown entities to co-create and co-manage initiatives. There is a focus on decisive action against the spread of kauri dieback disease and its causal agent, Phytophthora agathadicida ('PA').

Each iwi have a passionate team of Kauri Ora rangers in the mission to protect and maintain kauri.

Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera Wilding Pine Control Group

The Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera Wilding Pine Control Project is a shining example of commitment and partnership.

Ruawāhia / Mount Tarawera is a Maunga tapu (sacred mountain) and wāhi tapu (sacred site) for Ngāti Rangitihi, and a National Priority 1 Biodiversity site. Wilding pines have established on the maunga and these exotic pests are ecosystem changers, resulting in a loss of habitat for native species.

Working together to remove wilding pines from Ruawāhia / Mount Tarawera, the project employs five Ngāti Rangitihi iwi members to restore and maintain 1,897 hectares of indigenous vegetation.

The project is a partnership between Ruawāhia Māori Reservation 2B Trust, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Department of Conservation, and the Ministry for Primary Industries to eradicate wilding pines from Ruawāhia / Mount Tarawera in the Bay of Plenty.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust - Hungatiaki Taiao/Biosecurity

Biosecurity issues continue to have major impacts on the Tipuna roto (ancestral lakes) of Te Arawa. In recent years, Te Arawa Lakes Trust (TALT) have been at the forefront of initiatives to resolve these issues and create employment for their people.

Invasive fish, mammals and pest weeds (aquatic and terrestrial) have driven taonga like koura, kākahi beds, inanga, koaro, and tuna to the brink of extinction. TALT's biosecurity plan has mātauranga and tikanga-based solutions and focuses on building people's skills and wide community engagement.

Their team of sworn biosecurity officers has grown to 21 and conducted over 5000 boat inspections to limit the spread of weeds between lakes. The Trust has worked with 35 schools from around Rotorua to eliminate catfish.

They undertake wetland restoration mahi and a trial to create flax mats or Uwhi for the control of aquatic pest weeds, training Te Arawa whanau to become scientitifc divers in the process. Te Arawa Lakes Trusts have become a key player in the region's biosecurity sector, and led to the creation of over 70 jobs for iwi.

New Zealand Biosecurity Kura (School) Award

Taipa Area School - Project Predator

Project Predator was launched three years ago in response to increasing numbers of “dead grey ghosts” (dying Pohutukawa) along the Taipa coastline in the Far North.

Project Predator has brought together ngā ākonga, iwi, community members and the Northland Regional Council in a unique collaborative partnership that benefits everyone involved.

Rangatahi (young people) from Taipa Area School learn about the importance of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) through the programme, giving these ākonga (learners) the knowledge they need to care for the ngahere (bush).

Senior students track and trap pests every week on a 20 hectare block of coastal forest on Ngāti Kahu land. Three permanent traplines, located in difficult terrain, have seen the eradication of nearly 200 predators over three years. They’ve been so sucesseful an additional trapline has been set up.

Through the partnership, over 40 students have qualified in NCEA Achievement Standards and Unit Standards and gained practical knowledge in a way that integrates biosecurity into their learning. Both the ākonga and the wider community are seeing first-hand the regrowth of native trees, flowers, leaves and seeds and a dramatic decrease in tree deaths.

Howick Schools Moth Plant Competition

Tamaki Makaurau Auckland has the unenviable reputation of being the “weediest city in the world”. The four Local Boards have with specialist advice identified pest plant threats they want reduced in their areas, including the very invasive moth plant.

The innovative Howick Schools Moth Plant Competition was created to engage and educate local students in biosecurity. Each year the competition reaches early childhood centres, primary, intermediate and secondary students, teachers and whanau. Challenging tamariki to become committed to moth plant eradication, and the creative approach to biosecurity engagement has produced outstanding results.

Students have collected approximately 148,000 moth plant pods and seedlings so far - achieving positive biosecurity outcomes for not only Howick but also the Otahuhu / Mangere, Ōtara / Papatoetoe and Orakei local board areas in Auckland.

This competition is proudly growing a new energetic group of conservation volunteers throughout the local board areas.

Halfmoon Bay School - Te Kura o Rakiura

Halfmoon Bay School on Stewart Island / Rakiura is New Zealand’s southernmost kura. Despite being a small, remote school, it is leading the way in teaching students that their environment is not only their playground, but also their classroom.

Students participate in weekly rat-trapping with Stewart Island Rakiura Community Environment Trust, and a Penguin camera project with Tawaki Project. They have produced an educational video called Tiakina Te Wharawhara, and removed around 500kg of the invasive seaweed species undaria from Ulva Island.

Ulva island, which sits just off Stewart Island / Rakiura, has been pest free since 1997, and is open for visitors to see healthy populations of kiwi, saddleback, and yellowhead birds.

The impacts of Halfmoon Bay’s biosecurity actions aren’t just on Stewart Island, senior students from Halfmoon Bay School educate school children from around New Zealand. These amazing tamariki engage with their peers about biosecurity on Ulva Island as part of their Stewart Island Ambassadors programme.

GIA Industry Award

Onside and Kiwifruit Vine Health - Network technology partnership

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has partnered with Onside to provide a cutting-edge technology solution to help growers record plant and people movements.

By keeping effective records, the New Zealand kiwifruit industry can ensure effective biosecurity and manage traceability requirements for the new National Kiwifruit Pathway Management Plan.

The technology means around 2,500 kiwifruit growers can easily, simply, and pragmatically create and store robust traceability records.

The partnership enables KVH to allocate resources efficiently and to accurately optimise the containment of any biosecurity incursions, helping protect New Zealand’s $4billon dollar kiwifruit industry.

Auckland Airport – A Biosecurity Culture to Make Biosecurity Matter

Auckland Airport has elevated biosecurity from being something that border control staff do in the passenger arrivals area, to something the whole airport community understands and is involved with.

In doing so, the company has created a culture and a team of biosecurity champions. Growing awareness and engagement among its own workers as well as the staff of airlines, ground handlers, tenants and border agencies at the Airport.

Through awareness raising, training, documentation, standard setting and creation of a biosecurity community; biosecurity is now a foundational value for the company. This prioritisation is visible in all aspects of their business.

To date, over 10,000 workers within the wider airport community have completed Auckland Airport’s online biosecurity training.

Because Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s largest international airport, receiving passengers and goods from around the globe, it is a first line of defence at New Zealand’s air border. By supporting a strong border, the company is helping keep Aotearoa free from exotic pests and diseases.

Aquaculture New Zealand – Protecting a Promising Future: Leading the Way in Aquatic Biosecurity for Aotearoa New Zealand

Aquaculture New Zealand and the New Zealand Salmon Farmers association have collaborated in an industry-wide approach to biosecurity risk management.

The new A+ New Zealand Salmon Industry Biosecurity Standards empower farmers to take a leadership role in improving risk management in Aotearoa New Zealand’s aquatic biosecurity system.

New Zealand has no native salmon (Hamana) - yet we’re renowned for producing the world’s best. New Zealand salmon farming has evolved into an innovative, professional, and responsible industry.

The industry employs approximately 1000 people, and generates over $298 million annually (2021/22). As Aotearoa’s aquaculture industry grows, proactive leadership in biosecurity is essential to protect New Zealand waters and ensure the threat and damage of any biosecurity incursions in the future are minimised.

Eagle Technology Local and Central Government Award

AsureQuality Ltd - Blackgrass Canterbury Response 2021-22

Black-grass poses a high risk in New Zealand for the environmental and economic impacts it could have if it were to establish here, so when in December 2021, black-grass contamination was identified, quick and effective response was called for.

The contamination had been picked up in linseed crops in the Canterbury region from seed imported from France. Swift action using novel approaches meant a significant biosecurity threat to the cropping industry was mitigated before becoming established.

These actions were carried out at a time of high demand for cropping contractors such as cutting, baling and transport and during the time of peak crop growth and risk of seed establishment.

The successful response demonstrated that with strong collaboration across central and local government, the grain and seed industry, and agricultural contractors, good biosecurity outcomes can be achieved in a short period of time.

Wellington City Council - Wellington City Council Urban Ecology team

The urban ecology team within Wellington City Council is a small but highly effective team that supports the community by providing opportunities for people to connect with nature.

By galvinising and inspiring 150 volunteer groups across the city to trap animal pests and tackle weeds, it has achieved huge successes. The team have seen increased bird numbers and seen great leaps forward in its restoration programs.

In the past decade of the urban ecology bird monitoring program, species like Kaka and Kereru have increased to 270% and 240% respectively.

The team have collaborated with iwi, volunteer groups, private landowners, Waka Kotahi, Zealandia, and Greater Wellington Regional Council. Working together has meant the team’s efforts have made a significant contribution to the large scale reduction in pest animals and the planting of over two million trees in a complex urban landscape.

MPI - National Wilding Conifer Control Programme

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme (NWCCP) led by Biosecurity New Zealand within the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), has controlled wilding conifers on over 2.5 million hectares of affected land across New Zealand since 2016.

The programme is a textbook example of successful integration and collaboration between central and local government, industry sectors, mana whenua, communities, and land holders.

This combined approach is critically important because of the scale and complexity of the problem. If left uncontrolled, wilding conifers could invade over a quarter of New Zealand in 25 years, with a potential cost of over $5 billion.

Wilding pines spread at exponential rates across vulnerable land. They adversely impact on biodiversity, cultural and landscape values, primary production (forestry, agriculture, hydro-generation) and increase wildfire risk.

The Programme has made major progress toward eliminating the wilding threat because it has been able to effectively involve a wide range of affected stakeholders, working collaboratively to focus collective resources and efforts to tackle the wilding population.

New Zealand Biosecurity Science Award

Manaaki Whenua/Landcare Research - Weed biocontrol group

Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research (MWLR)’s Weed biocontrol group harnesses the enemies of invasive weeds to take a natural approach to biosecurity control. Invasive weeds threaten and cause major harm to all ecosystems in Aotearoa New Zealand and with increasing demand for low environmental risk management tools, biocontrols are essential to supporting New Zealand’s biosecurity. The group have successfully released natural enemies such as insects, mites and plant pathogens to control serious intractable invasive weeds across all regions of Aotearoa, from native forests in Northland to farms in Southland.

Research by the group has contributed substantially to advancing the science of weed biocontrol internationally, making it safer, cheaper and more effective.

The weed biocontrol group is internationally acknowledged as a world leader in weed biocontrol research and practice.

Better Border Biosecurity (B3) Research Collaboration

Better Border Biosecurity (B3) is a multi-partner, cooperative science collaboration in New Zealand. B3 researches ways to reduce the entry and establishment of new plant pests and diseases in Aotearoa.

It is a unique research collaboration between crown research institutes, universities, and government agencies with operational border biosecurity needs. Through co-innovation, and with industry, iwi, and community interests, B3 has delivered tangible and substantial impacts to New Zealand biosecurity.

These include biosafety for pre-emptive biological control, sentinel plants to support native plant heath, genetic databases, and prototype surveillance and response tools.

B3 undertakes integrated research across risk assessment, pathway risk management, diagnostics, surveillance and eradication. Its mahi plays an important role in delivering the world-class scientific knowledge and tools required for New Zealand’s biosecurity system to be resilient and world-leading.

Scion Research, Apiculture NZ, Plant & Food Research - Giant Willow Aphid Biological Control Group.

A collaborative team from Scion, Plant & Food Research and Apiculture NZ worked together to successfully implement a biological control of the unwanted organism Giant willow aphid (GWA).

GWA Tuberolachnus salignus, is an exotic pest that quickly became widespread in New Zealand since it’s detection in 2013. The aphid causes willow tree dieback, willows play an important role in agriculture in New Zealand as vital spring resources for bees and as erosion protection. . The total impact of GWA has been estimated to be over NZ$300 million each year.

Options for sustainable chemical control of GWA in New Zealand were limited, so the collaborative team successfully released Pauesia nigrovaria, a tiny parasitoid wasp from California, as a biological control..

Recent results have seen that the release of P. nigrovaria has greatly mitigated the worst effects of this incursion and advanced the science in this field.

Mondiale VGL Innovation Award

Kiwifruit Vine Health and Onside - using network technology for biosecurity readiness and response in the kiwifruit sector.

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has partnered with Onside to provide a cutting-edge technology solution to help growers record and trace the movements of plants and people.

This innovative solution provides 2,500 kiwifruit growers the ability to easily create and store robust traceability records, fuffilling the requirements of the new National Kiwifruit Pathway Management Plan.

The technology helps to model and predict disease spread, trace the origin and likely direction of an incursion. It enables KVH and growers to deploy highly targeted biosecurity interventions and surveillance, helping to protect New Zealand’s $4billion dollar kiwifruit industry.

Wilderlab NZ Ltd. - Wilderlab and the eDNA revolution in Aotearoa

Environmental DNA monitoring firm Wilderlab has developed technology that means just a cupful of water can now reveal what native and pest species are present.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) refers to traces of genetic material that are naturally left behind in the environment by its inhabitants.

WilderLab's fast, simple and cost effective monitoring method offers a powerful and scalable solution for the monitoring-at-scale needed to support New Zealands biosecurity and biodiversity - in water and on land.

Wilderlab empowers community groups, scientists and biosecurity practitioners with this powerful new eDNA detection tool. This innovation has driven an exponential uptake of eDNA monitoring across Aotearoa.

With large-scale adoption by Regional Councils, the Department of Conservation and other government agencies, Wilderlab’s eDNA technology is now an essential tool in Aotearoa’s biosecurity toolbox. Their technology means thousands of kilometres of Aotearoa’s waterways are being monitored for tens of thousands of species every week, with several early detections of invasive organisms leading to successful eradications.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council – GeoPest

GeoPest was developed by Biosecurity staff at Bay of Plenty Regional Council to revolutionise how crucial pest data is captured and reported.

The programme was built so field workers can stay out working in the field. From there they can capture and record a wide range of pest indicators and make decisions based on quality, detailed and real-time data. 

In the last 18 months, field workers across the Bay of Plenty region have surveyed 4,242 properties (50,385.8 ha) using GeoPest. They have recorded 10,788 current pest plant infestations, 5,879 zero density infestations, and 1,135 previous infestation sites have been made historic. All without having to step foot in an office.

Geopest provides useful insights for decision-making among biosecurity agencies across Aotearoa and has successfully revolutionised biosecurity activity for the Bay of Plenty. 

AsureQuality Emerging Leader Award

Ethan McCormick - Pest Free Howick Ward and Friends of Mangemangeroa

Ethan shines as an emerging leader totally dedicated to teaching and inspiring youth to protect their local environment.

He has a strong vision for a thriving predator-free New Zealand and he works tirelessly with his community and teachers and students from 44 schools in Auckland to pass on his passion for biosecurity.

Ethan combines his environmental study as a university student, with being a central member of the Pest Free Howick Ward team and Friends of Mangemangeroa Trust. He runs regular pest free workshops for teachers and Envirogroups, ‘Pestivals’, and community pest education. He is also piloting a cadet programme in Somerville Intermediate.

Through a structured and analytical approach, Ethan has expanded his environmental leadership from a high school focus, to contributing to environmental action in Mangemangeroa Reserve, Cockle Bay coastal bush, the schools of Howick, and the wider Howick community as a whole. Ethan’s leadership has normalised predator-free activity for the people of Howick, creating an ethos of ‘this is what we do’.

Alessandra Smith - Northland Regional Council

The strength Aless exhibits in being able to lead, support, encourage and mentor her colleagues has seen her promoted to a marine biosecurity specialist within Northland Regional Council (NRC). This senior role acknowledges her specialised skill set and contribution to the marine biosecurity programme and beyond that to the NRC wider biosecurity team.

Aless leads by example and is no stranger to throwing herself into the operational mahi. Her leadership qualities have resulted in her representing NRC nationally, and leading or being a key support to the majority of the Top of the North’s collaborative behaviour change initiatives. These initiatives are critical to effectively managing pest and disease pathways between the regions.

Juliet O’Connell - Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Juliet’s purpose, passion, and integrity of character makes her stand out as an emerging biosecurity leader in the Bay of Plenty.

She is highly respected by her peers, the Contractors she works with and the community she serves. Juliet combines a solutions-focused attitude and an extremely high level of professionalism with her technical ability in ecology, GIS analysis, RMA compliance and pest management.

Her successes include leading the Eastern Bay of Plenty Feral goat programme and her work on Geopest. The data collection tool Geopest is now widely used at Bay of Plenty Regional Council and is proving to be a game-changer for tracking biosecurity success. Juliet has played a crucial role in this success and is still working hard to continually improve this award-winning tool.


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