Why we're building a new lab

New Zealand's existing high-level biocontainment laboratory at Wallaceville opened in 1999. The lab has an excellent safety record, but it's nearing the end of its lifespan and getting more expensive and difficult to maintain.

What is the lab?

The National Biocontainment Laboratory is based at the National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease at Wallaceville, Upper Hutt. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Environmental Science and Research (ESR) use the lab to:

  • protect public health
  • diagnose and help control the spread of animal diseases
  • give international trade assurances about New Zealand's animal disease status.

Keeping pace with progress

We're building a new facility to replace the existing high-containment lab at Wallaceville.

The existing lab is outdated and we can't use it for some modern laboratory testing methods. If there was a large biosecurity emergency, we wouldn't have enough testing capacity.

Keeping you safe

The existing lab has an excellent safety record. We consistently meet stringent quality assurance and containment audits. While maintaining the lab is becoming more costly and difficult, MPI has good processes in place to make sure it continues to operate safely.

Safety measures include:

  • holding the air inside the lab at negative pressure
  • sterilising everything that comes out of the lab
  • filtering all the exhaust air with high-efficiency filters.

Wallaceville – 100 years of science

3 men in white lab coats stand in front of the original 1905 Wallaceville lab
Staff outside the original Wallaceville laboratory (photo taken 1914).

The National Biocontainment Laboratory continues more than 100 years of animal disease diagnostics at Wallaceville. The first facility was built in 1905 and was the first veterinary lab in the southern hemisphere. The laboratory is staffed by skilled scientists, who have expertise in a wide variety of diseases that affect a range of animals, including cattle, sheep, deer, pigs, birds, horses, bees, and fish. We have strong links to similar centres all over the world. The existing laboratory will continue to run until the new lab comes into service in 2019.

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