Why we do it
Routine surveillance ensures New Zealand is aware of which pests or diseases (organisms) are here and which are not. This knowledge serves 3 vital functions.
1. Assuring trade partners that New Zealand exports are safe.
Many countries require evidence that New Zealand's primary-sector goods will not carry pests or diseases to their shores. The best possible assurance we can give them is to prove those organisms don't live here – using rigorous and reliable science.
2. Responding to outbreaks.
Should a harmful pest or disease arrive in New Zealand, surveillance programmes give us early warning. By telling us what is here, and where it is, they allow us to mount a swift and coordinated response to eradicate or control an outbreak.
3. Understanding and controlling established pests and diseases.
When pests or diseases are established in New Zealand, we aim to understand them and, if possible, stop them from spreading around the country. Surveillance programmes tell us if harmful organisms are changing or moving, so we can manage the risks.
Our surveillance programmes also provide the data and expertise needed to conduct risk analyses and advise on import health standards. Those standards set out what can and can’t be imported into New Zealand.
How we do it
MPI's surveillance system brings together specialists in animal, marine, plant and environmental science, plus everyday New Zealanders, to detect pests and diseases. Our work includes:
- general surveillance to keep watch for any pest or disease, in any environment
- 13 targeted programmes focusing on specific pests, diseases and biosecurity risks.
Atlas of biosecurity surveillance
Our online interactive atlas explains more about the what, where, and why of our programmes.
A printable version is also available
Download the Atlas of biosecurity surveillance [PDF, 15 MB]
Note, this is a low resolution version. If you want a higher resolution version, email email@example.com
Calling on the eyes and ears of every New Zealander, general surveillance is the cornerstone of biosecurity within New Zealand.
- New Zealanders report about 10,000 suspected pests and diseases to MPI every year.
- About 750 reports lead to a formal investigation by our Investigation and Diagnostic Centre.
- MPI issues alerts to focus attention on high-priority biosecurity risks.
- Every commercially slaughtered animal is inspected for signs of disease.
- Getting farmers and vets to report conditions – like dropped hock syndrome
The science behind surveillance
When diagnostic testing is required, it usually takes place at one of our national laboratories:
- The Animal Health Laboratory in Wallaceville processes 37,000 diagnostic tests a year.
National Animal Health Laboratory
- The Plant Health and Environment Laboratories in Auckland and Christchurch identify 1,000 diseases and 6,000 bugs a year.
Plant Health & Environment Laboratory
MPI also collaborates with overseas labs and uses approved private labs in New Zealand.
MPI monitors vet laboratory submission data and reports from MPI's pest-and-disease hotline to identify trends in disease occurrence that may require further investigation. We also determine the cause of death for critically endangered native plants and animals.
Community-wide general surveillance systems like this are proven to give the best early warning of the:
- arrival of exotic pests or diseases
- mutation of established diseases into a more dangerous form.
MPI has 13 targeted programmes that focus on specific biosecurity risks. These include high-risk pests, high-risk locations, and vulnerable groups of plants and animals – on land or in water. Choose a topic box to reveal more information.