More biosecurity officers for summer rush
Thirty-two new quarantine officers will graduate from their training today, bolstering the Ministry for Primary Industries' biosecurity defences at the border.
MPI Border Clearance Services director Steve Gilbert says half of the graduates will assist with biosecurity screening of travellers arriving at Auckland Airport over the summer.
"We're expecting the busiest summer on record for visitor arrivals at international airports, especially in Auckland.
"The new officers will have a frontline role to protect New Zealand from invasive pests or diseases that could damage our economy or natural environment."
The graduates include 5 officers who will work as biosecurity detector dog handlers and 5 more who will shortly undergo detector dog programme training.
So far this year, MPI has employed 73 new officers from 3 intakes. It now employs around 540 frontline staff, up from 500 last year.
It has also contracted additional personnel to assist MPI officers with Chinese language translations and with cleaning shoes and sportswear.
"MPI is quickly becoming the biggest shoe-cleaning operation in New Zealand, and it's all for biosecurity," says Mr Gilbert.
He says MPI will be looking for 40 more officers in its latest recruitment drive, starting later this month.
In the year to July 2017, 6.48 million passengers arrived at New Zealand's 5 international airports. Under conservative estimates, MPI is projecting a 2.5 million increase in the number of passenger arrivals over the next 5 years.