Biosecurity New Zealand has bolstered its border force at Auckland Airport in preparation for the upcoming school holidays.
Twenty extra staff will be redeployed to work at the airport over the holiday period, says Mike Inglis, northern regional commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.
"We have already bolstered staff since the weekend and will be further boosting numbers from today."
Biosecurity New Zealand has been working with airports and other border agencies to prepare for the holidays, says Mr Inglis.
"Biosecurity is just one part of the arrival process and is at the end of that system, which includes disembarking, baggage collection, and passport checking. Factors such as more flights arriving late or early contribute to queue congestion because very large numbers of people enter the arrivals system at the same time. That's why taking a system-wide approach to improving the arrivals process is important."
He says recent initiatives by Biosecurity New Zealand to streamline passenger flows include establishing express lanes for arriving international passengers assessed as low biosecurity risk.
"We want to get lower-risk passengers through the biosecurity process as quickly as possible. To this end, we are running trials this weekend that will use information from digital declarations to identify low-risk air passengers before they arrive at the biosecurity area. This information will be used to direct eligible passengers to a special area for processing.
"As the airport undertakes new construction to provide a better arrival experience we face some space restrictions, but we are making adjustments where possible."
Biosecurity New Zealand is also continuing to introduce new quarantine officers to increase capacity and speed up processing at the border.
"Last year, 64 new officers started nationwide, with 46 based in Auckland. So far, 81 new officers have started this year, with 56 based in Auckland. We have another recruitment round planned for November, with training for the new recruits due to start in February.
"Our officers work extremely hard to protect New Zealand's primary sector, which earned a record $57.4 billion in export earnings for the year to June.
"We're focused on stopping pests and diseases like the brown marmorated stink bug, fruit flies, and foot and mouth disease from entering New Zealand. These pose a direct threat to our hard-working growers and farmers, who underpin rural communities and our economic well-being."
Biosecurity New Zealand seized 6,901 biosecurity risk goods in August, including fruit, vegetables, meat, and used equipment. Officers issued 608 fines of $400 to passengers who failed to declare goods that could bring pests or diseases into New Zealand.
"We ask international travellers to be understanding of the need to protect New Zealand and our economy from biosecurity threats as they get their bags checked or are required to answer questions from our officers.
"We also ask travellers to carefully consider what they bring into New Zealand. Anyone who brings biosecurity risk items may take longer to process."
Other things travellers can do to speed up the process include:
- Filling out your passenger arrival card or digital declaration correctly so officers can efficiently and accurately assess biosecurity risk.
- Declaring all risk items – like food, plants, wooden products, soil, water, outdoor equipment, and animal products so officers can assess and prevent any pests or diseases entering New Zealand.
- Dispose of undeclared risk goods in marked amnesty bins on arrival to avoid being searched or fined. This material is safely disposed of to remove biosecurity risk.
- Families or groups should stay together to help with efficient processing.