Approximately 150 plant border biosecurity professionals gathered at Te Papa, Wellington, last week (9-10 May) to discuss the research strategy required to underpin New Zealand’s biosecurity.

The conference was attended by researchers, government employees and industry, and included a number of international visitors, thereby providing a unique opportunity for developing linkages and relationships conducive to generate better biosecurity outcomes for future challenges.

Highlights throughout the conference included the two AGMARDT sponsored keynote speakers: Dr Lisa Keith (US Department of Agriculture) speaking about Rapid ‘Ohi’a Death – (a disease killing native Hawaiian trees and of concern for New Zealand) and Dr Koichi Goka (National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan) who provided insight into the issues of the invasive alien species in Japan and especially engagement with the wider community.

We were also fortunate to have several additional international speakers, including Dr Mariella Marzano (UK), Mr Dan Ryan, and Dr Andrew Robin (both from Australia), and to hear from New Zealand researchers working alongside B3 on biosecurity issues. Several students aligned to B3 also gave presentations.

Partnerships were an enduring theme throughout the conference with special sessions on community engagement and collaborations outside the B3 partners.

The breath of B3 research was highlighted over several sessions (risk assessment to eradication and response) and there was lively discussion, both formally (as part of panels) and informally (during lunch and coffee breaks).   All in all, the discussion was sufficiently frank and challenging to ensure a focus on the future research needs.

A conference highlight was the signing of the Fruit Fly Operational Agreement – a significant milestone which represents the first time industry and Government have come together in such a way to manage a shared biosecurity threat and the first operational agreement under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA).  More information on this can be found at:

Directly following the signing, the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy, spoke about the importance of biosecurity to New Zealand’s ongoing development, and the critical role science plays in keeping New Zealand at the forefront of managing biosecurity risk.  The Minister stressed the importance for Government of working in partnership to deliver biosecurity, with the GIA partnership a critical component.

The Minister’s speech can be found at:

In response to a question from the floor, Minister Guy invited the research community and other biosecurity stakeholders to provide information about the research gaps where new investment could be targeted.

According to B3 Director Dr David Teulon, feedback from the conference participants suggests the event was an outstanding success.

Better Border Biosecurity (B3) is a multi-partner, cooperative science collaboration that researches ways to reduce the entry and establishment of new plant pests and diseases in New Zealand.  B3 is aligned to New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.


Contact:  David Teulon, B3 Director ([email protected])