National Biosecurity Capability Network

We all have a part to play in protecting New Zealand from harmful pests and diseases – and you can help. Learn about the National Biosecurity Capability Network (NBCN), the benefits of belonging, and how you can play your part.

What is the NBCN?

The NBCN is a network of organisations that join in to respond to biosecurity outbreaks in New Zealand. Network members provide their shared resources, people, and knowledge to help MPI and Government protect the country. For example, if there's a fruit fly response, we'll call on network members to help us on the ground.

Our field team is growing, but we need more businesses to join us so that we can respond more quickly and more effectively. New Zealanders are at risk of losing a lot from any biosecurity threat.

Leading by example

The NBCN is a world-leading initiative – no other country has a similar task force or process. The NBCN is a part of New Zealand's wider plan for biosecurity – by 2025 we want to have a biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders.

Examples of some of our responses

How the NBCN is managed

The NBCN is a partnership between MPI and AsureQuality. MPI owns the initiative and AsureQuality is in charge of recruiting, training, relationships management, and response role coordination.

We want you

To make the NBCN effective, we need more organisations to offer their help. The more people join, the wider the range of skills we can call on, and the more areas of the country we can cover.

The more resources we have, the better we can control a biosecurity outbreak. We're looking for all types of help – and not only from specialists.

As a member, you can expect yearly staff training for crisis management and specialist roles. Any work you agree to do will be on a contract.

Join the NBCN

To join the network, contact AsureQuality. They can help you with the sign-up process and answer any questions you might have.

What happens next?

When you speak with AQ's team about joining, they'll ask you about what relevant skills, qualifications, and experience your staff might have. You'll also discuss your organisation's resource capability.

Next, AQ will send you forms and help you to complete them. When you're a member, your staff will be invited to specialist training, or workshops to learn about how MPI-led responses work.

What skills or experience do I need to join?

You don't need to have any specialist biosecurity experience or skills to be a part of the network. If there's a biosecurity outbreak, we'll need a wide range of skills – and all of them will be important. This will include:

  • administration
  • general labour
  • transport logistics
  • waste management.

Specialist processes and roles

Your organisation may have people that know how to do the tasks needed in a response. The NBCN can identify these people, and give them annual specialist training.

Skills and knowledge valuable in a response include:

  • operations management
  • logistics
  • movement control and permitting
  • surveillance
  • tracing
  • intelligence
  • team management
  • planning
  • operations managers and subject-matter experts
  • assessing crops, livestock, and other flora and fauna
  • veterinary work
  • pest extermination – setting and observing traps.

Job descriptions

How companies benefit from being a member

You'll get paid for helping

Companies work on a contract when they help out through the NBCN.

Your business will be kept busy

If your business depends on nature, an outbreak may affect your organisation, and you may be unable to work. But if you work during an outbreak as an NBCN member, you can continue to earn during the event.

Staff get extra training

As a member, you can expect yearly staff training on crisis management and specialist roles.

How the NBCN helps New Zealand communities

As a part of the NBCN, you'll help to protect your local region and community from the financial losses that biosecurity outbreaks can cause. It also means your organisation will be more prepared to respond to threats more quickly, and more effectively.

During a crisis, this reach and ability can be what's needed to avoid disaster. It will also help keep your region and New Zealand safer and healthier for future generations.

Biosecurity threats are dangerous to NZ

Unwanted pests and diseases pose an extreme risk to New Zealand's environment, economy, and people.

  • New Zealand is isolated – our ecosystems aren't protected against a lot of overseas threats.
  • Our economy depends on the natural environment, which is what biosecurity risks can damage. This includes farms, livestock, fisheries, and forests.

NBCN members

Many organisations and skills are already part of the NBCN – but we need even more. The risk that biosecurity threats pose to New Zealand economy and environment are extreme. The more help we have, the better we’re prepared as a nation.

Member organisations of the NBCN include:

  • commercial organisations
  • community groups
  • government agencies
  • regional councils
  • iwi
  • industry partners.

View the list of NBCN members – AsureQuality website  [PDF, 13 MB]

Latest Newsletters


Watch an introduction to the NBCN (4:29)


Transcript: NBCN Video Nov 2012

Video length: 4:29 minutes

[Video begins with shots of New Zealand landscapes, with the Ministry for Primary Industries logo, the AsureQuality logo, and the title 'National Biosecurity Capability Network'.]

[Music plays]

Narrator: "The National Biosecurity Capability Network is New Zealand's field team in a biosecurity outbreak. Otherwise known as the NBCN, this initiative is run by the Government's Ministry for Primary Industries (which leads New Zealand's biosecurity system) and AsureQuality (a provider of food safety and biosecurity services)."

[Shot changes to inside the Ministry for Primary Industries offices.]

MPI Response manager David Yard: "Together we're building a strong, capable network so that if we have a pest or disease outbreak we have the field resources ready."

[Shot changes to New Zealand landscapes. Shot of a man doing a traditional Māori dance, and shots of farmland.]

Narrator: "Our biosecurity matters greatly – to our economy, our health, and our environment. As a nation, we have a lot to lose. New Zealand is blessed with abundant food, fresh, clean water, a strong productive sector, and a healthy environment.

Pests and diseases brought into New Zealand (deliberately or accidentally) could seriously threaten our economy, damage our natural resources, and undermine our way of life. We all have a part to play in protecting New Zealand from harmful pests and diseases."

[Shot of David Yard speaking.]

MPI Response manager David Yard: "We need dedicated organisations to maintain a strong, capable network. This is where you can help.

[Shots of aeroplanes, and people going through Customs and biosecurity checks at an airport.]

"All pest and disease outbreaks pose serious threats, but they can vary in scale – from localised issues to potentially becoming national disasters.

[Shots of imported shipping containers being unloaded on a wharf.]

"For example, a recent operation to eradicate an exotic ant involved only one technician from an NBCN member organisation. At the other end of the scale, the hoax foot and mouth disease outbreak on Waiheke outbreak triggered a large response, which required a significant number of personnel.

[Shots of people in the field responding to a biosecurity outbreak.]

"In the event of a biosecurity outbreak, we need a large number of organisations ready to provide a wide range of people and resources, to cover all the activities required. Many different types of organisations have already signed up to join the National Biosecurity Capability Network.

[Shots of people in an office, coordinating and planning a biosecurity outbreak response.]

"The NBCN is looking to tap into the existing capability and expertise of organisations from around New Zealand. However, your organisation does not necessarily need specialist biosecurity experience or services to be a part of the network because many of the tasks we have to perform are the things you do every day. These could be: waste management, transport logistics, setting up roadblocks, knocking on doors, assisting livestock and crops, answering the information line, setting up traps, administration, or general labour."

AsureQuality preparedness and response manager Mike Langford: "We will train you to take part in a biosecurity outbreak response. This way well include participation in biosecurity exercises, with training from experts in New Zealand. This training will build on your existing experience and backgrounds."

[Shot of next speaker, Viv Van Dyk, and shots of people responding to an outbreak.]

FBA Consulting Director Viv Van Dyk: "FBA consulting (a division of FlyBusters Insect Control) has had a long association with AsureQuality and MPI, and biosecurity surveillance and incursion response. With our specialist biosecurity skills and facilities, and our commitment to the New Zealand biosecurity, it was an obvious choice to join the National Biosecurity Capability Network.

"Becoming a part of the network has exposed us to innovative biosecurity ideas and systems, and this has kept our knowledge and focus current, and has grown our skill set. We are proud to have direct input in maintaining New Zealand's enviable biosecurity status."

[Shots of iconic New Zealand animals and landscapes.]

Narrator: "We need to have the right field resources at the ready. So, join us today and play your part in protecting New Zealand's economy, natural resources, and way of life – from the threat of pests and diseases."

[A shot of a landscape appears in the background, with the words 'National Biosecurity Capability Network – a strong capable network for managing any biosecurity outbreaks in New Zealand', followed by the contact number: 0508 00 11 22, and the web page link: ]

[end of transcript]

Biosecurity response information – NBCN (4:24)


Transcript: Biosecurity Response Initial Information
Video length: 4:08 minutes

[A selection of shots and voice outtakes from news reports is shown, discussing the 2015 fruit fly outbreak in Auckland.]

News reporter 1: "The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a single Queensland fruit fly has been discovered in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn."

News reporter 2: "... is in lockdown after the discovery of a potentially devastating fruit fly."

News reporter 3: "There are restrictions in place …"

News reporter 4: "That’s 1.5 km from where the fly was trapped and includes the zoo and Western Springs."

[Title appears – Biosecurity Response Initial Information.]

[Shots of people responding to the biosecurity outbreak.]

Mike Langford – NBCN relationship coordinator AsureQuality: "We've had a number of fruit fly incursions into New Zealand in the past few years.

In the Auckland fruit fly response in 2015, we discovered through the help of the public that there was a breeding population in New Zealand. The control methods that we use are internationally approved because we have to guarantee to our trading partners that there are no flies left in New Zealand.

By being involved in this response, you're playing an important role in protecting New Zealand from financial losses, protecting the environment, and protecting our primary industries.

Once a response is initiated, we actually spring into action very quickly. We have a number of work streams that we use. Organism management – and that primarily is around controlling the organism itself.

Second workstream is movement control, and that's all about stopping the spread of the organism around New Zealand. We determine where the organism is situated, and we want to restrict it back to a particular area. So to do that we have to get on side with the community – we have to let them know what they need to do to prevent this being spread further.

We'll have lots of announcements in the media. We also put signage up. Depending on the area we may visit people individually or we may do leaflet drops.  The Biosecurity Act says that if you do not comply with the instructions, you are liable to prosecution for non-compliance.

In the case of a fruit fly response, depending on the outcome of our surveillance work, we have different levels of response. What we call a level one response – our primary function is to identify if we have a breeding population of fruit flies in New Zealand. Mainly, we go out setting up traps to try and capture insects and identify if we have more fruit flies.

In the event we find that we have a breeding population (which could be indicated by male or female fruit flies or eggs or larvae) then we have to escalate our response. And that's when we start moving into the areas of trying to kill off the fly population. That effectively means that we start to use different control measures around eradication, and those things include applying insecticides to kill off the flies and the larvae.

If we were using something that you might consider hazardous, we always follow the health and safety legislation and the appropriate codes of practice to make sure that people don't come to harm.

Whenever we have a response there's always going to be an impact on the community. With the fruit fly response, there are always going to be controls on the movement of fruit and vegetables out of the area where we found the fruit flies. It does provide restrictions on people that sell fruit and vegetables, and it also means that people who grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and normally share them with their family in their friends, they wouldn't be able to do that.

The measures that we put in place can be quite restricting on the community, but they're not taken lightly, and we always appreciate the community's support in controlling what is effectively a very damaging organism to New Zealand.

Regardless of what people do in the response, whether they're participating actively in the management, or even just supporting us through complying with the movement controls and the regulations and the rules we put in place – it's very, very important, and the Ministry for Primary Industries, and everybody involved, always appreciates the efforts people put into the response. We quite often hear that in biosecurity in New Zealand there are 4 million people involved.

[Video title appears again – Biosecurity Response Initial Information.]

[end of transcript]

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