New leadership for biosecurity collaboration protecting Aotearoa’s precious plants
The Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration farewell’s stalwart James Buwalda and welcomes a new Independent Chair, Melanie Mark-Shadbolt.
Melanie (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa) replaces outgoing Independent Chair James Buwalda who has been involved with the science collaboration for more than a decade.
Melanie is an indigenous environmental sociologist with significant experience providing governance, direction and support to a number of boards and groups. She has been a member of B3’s governance group – the Collaboration Council – for the past three years, and was formerly the Deputy Secretary– Tūmatakōkiri (Māori Rights and Interest) for the Ministry for the Environment.
James says Melanie brings to the role not only broad experience in biosecurity, policy, and science leadership, but also a Tiriti-centred approach to leadership and collaboration.
He says B3 is in better shape now than at any time in its more than 15-year history of delivering biosecurity science solutions in partnership with government, iwi, international collaborators, and communities.
“A secret to B3’s success has been its clear and simple focus on biosecurity threats to New Zealand’s plant-based sectors. The funding model has also been useful as it has meant there isn’t competition between funders for funding. Rather people have been able to focus collectively on what is best for New Zealand’s plant-based sectors.”
James says some of B3’s greatest successes include providing the science behind preparing for new threats such as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Myrtle Rust, and Fall armyworm, while developing the capability to deal with long term challenges to our economy and natural environments such as the Queensland Fruit Fly and PSA.
“A major challenge for B3 going forward is to secure more funding to reflect the ongoing commitment to new biosecurity science and applying the cutting-edge knowledge and tools already developed by B3. I urge B3 and its new Independent Chair to be ready to strongly advocate for biosecurity as a national science priority and building biosecurity science capacity as a strategically important asset.”
Melanie agrees. “Our New Zealand economy and the rapidly growing Māori economy are underpinned by our environment, te taiao. Forestry, fisheries, farming, film, tourism and other industries rely on our natural estate, our freshwater, our flora and fauna. One biosecurity incursion could compromise all of that. The challenge is to ensure decision makers understand that and value the amazing work happening across the biosecurity system.”
Melanie says she is ‘absolutely committed to raising the profile of biosecurity across government, especially within the science sector’.
Desi Ramoo became Director of B3 in early 2023, and Alby Marsh (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine and Te Rarawa) became Co-Director Māori after more than two years as the research collaboration’s Pourangahau (Māori Research Leader).
Desi says the B3 funding model is a good one that serves ‘NZ Inc.’ and allows for the use of the best people to address important biosecurity challenges.