Know the enemy campaign June 2005

10 June 2005

Media backgrounder

Biosecurity New Zealand has launched the 'Know the Enemy' campaign to alert all New Zealanders to the importance of border protection and the role everyone can play in ensuring our biosecurity is effective.

As an island nation, New Zealand is susceptible to infiltration by exotic species. These species have the potential to harm our way of life, health, environment and export industries. Given that potential, every possible step must be taken to prevent biosecurity breaches.

In August 2003, the Biosecurity Council published New Zealand's first biosecurity strategy, answering a Government undertaking to increase the country's border protection. The strategy proposed a new direction to deal with mounting pressures on New Zealand's biosecurity.

As part of that, last November Biosecurity New Zealand was launched, taking over from MAF's Biosecurity Authority. Although Biosecurity New Zealand still comes under MAF, it is now charged with a wider mandate to protect New Zealand's biosecurity systems.

Although New Zealand border authorities are constantly vigilant, screening the hundreds of thousands of passengers and millions of tonnes of freight that pass through our borders each year, the border still requires a second line of defence: public vigilance.

The best backup for the border protection is the public. The 'Know the Enemy' campaign is aimed at educating all New Zealanders to keep their eyes open for exotic pests in their backyards, on their farms, and in the bush and then to pick up the phone and report anything suspicious.


Already, New Zealanders show a high awareness of biosecurity issues and so are well placed to join the effort to protect our borders from these seemingly insignificant but potentially high impact incursions.

  • Last year, the research company UMR found that 92% of New Zealanders believed that everyone has a responsibility to protect this country's biosecurity. 59% of those felt "very strongly" that this was true.
  • However, 18% felt that the burden of biosecurity is an issue for the Government and its agencies like MAF, and that there's little they can do personally.

But there's a lot New Zealanders can do, and it's not hard. It's a simple step to take if they spot something suspicious – report it to Biosecurity New Zealand. It could save the environment and, potentially, billions of dollars.


Early detection is the key to preventing an infestation that may be very expensive or impossible to eradicate. If a member of the public finds an insect pest which they suspect are one of the pests and diseases in this campaign:

1. Capture it in a jar or container.
2. Euthanase it by placing it in the freezer or spraying with insecticide
3. Phone the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline on 0800 80 99 66

The Biosecurity New Zealand hotline will guide people through the process of preparing the pest for scientific submission to one of Biosecurity New Zealand's laboratories.

Suspected animal diseases should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.


The campaign will initially target people living around the four main ports – Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Lyttelton and nearby Christchurch. However, because some pests can spread quickly and easily, Biosecurity New Zealand is calling for all New Zealanders to be involved. In particular, Biosecurity New Zealand hopes farmers, gardeners and schoolchildren will "keep watch" for anything that looks like an unwelcome visitor as they go about their work and play.

This campaign is about making biosecurity preventive rather than reactive. It's about spotting pests and taking action before expensive and inconvenient eradication programmes are necessary.

To do that, every New Zealander must "know the enemy," and be prepared to take action by calling Biosecurity New Zealand when a possible biosecurity threat is found.

Because it only takes one pest to damage the country, but it only takes one of us to stop it.



Last Updated: 27 September 2010

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