Wednesday, 20 November, 2019 - 13:33

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a very long name for the greatest threat to New Zealand’s biosecurity as we know it. This article and podcast by Damian Christie from the Aotearoa Science Agency appeared on Our Changing World on Radio New Zealand in October, 2019.

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019 - 12:02

A new walking trail at the Auckland Botanic Gardens will give locals and overseas visitors a chance to learn about New Zealand’s flora as well as the role they play in protecting it.The Biosecurity Trail is a collaboration between Better Border Biosecurity (B3) and the Auckland Botanic Garden (ABG), funded by Plant and Food Research. Visitors can embark on a 1.8 km-long walk round the garden and discover biosecurity facts at their own pace as they adA mire more than 10,000 native and exotic plants.

Ko Tātou This Is Us, an initiative under Biosecurity 2025, is also promoted within the trail. It recognises the role that every New Zealander needs to play in preventing pests and diseases from getting into New Zealand or helping to stop their spread if they do get here.

Brief information about pests and diseases that threaten New Zealand’s flora and primary industries, including brown marmorated stink bug, myrtle rust and kauri dieback, is displayed at each of the 12 check points along the path. Visitors can scan the QR code at each check point to be directed to either a video or website for additional information on the pest or the disease and how to prevent its spread.

While locals are encouraged to experience the trail, the project team...

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 14:52

Since February, the Year 10 Mātauranga Māori class at Aorere College (Papatoetoe, South Auckland) has been supported by regular lessons with the scientists at Plant & Food Research as part of an "Unlocking Curious Minds" Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) project. The project seeks to expose students to biosecurity concepts and the dynamic nature of plant disease epidemics, taking them beyond theory and into scientific practice.

The students report some experiences:

 "We found out that myrtle rust had originated from Brazil and it's progression to moving to New Zealand was carried out by the wind. They told us about how easily the spores can spread and how effective it is. We learnt how to identify leaves because leaf identification is helpful in classifying plant varieties and their families. In our case, knowing how to identify leaves was critical to gathering information especially when we're surveying around the school and botanical gardens to see if it is susceptible to receiving myrtle rust. Over time we found out that not all plants are or can be infected by this fungal disease. We have learnt quite a lot about what to do if we have a sighting of myrtle rust or even how to...

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 14:20

The stink bug hasn’t become established in New Zealand yet - or at least biosecurity officials don’t think it has. But a 2017 report from NZIER found that under a worst case scenario, our GDP losses from a full-blown stink bug invasion could reach $3.6 billion by 2038. It says living standards could fall by up to $2.8 billion over 20 years, as employment and real wages decrease. 

Horticultural export values could fall by up to $3 billion over 10 years and $4.2 billion over 20 years. The wine industry alone could lose $600 million worth of exports. 

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Link to full article: 

*This item featured on newsroom.

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 14:06

The Port of Tauranga (PoT) is New Zealand’s largest and fastest growing port, processing a large volume of goods, from diverse origins. This presents a key risk; these goods may contain biosecurity risks. With over 1,000 workers on the port, and a number of different companies operating, there is dispersed social and geographic responsibility for managing these risks.In order to measure awareness, perceptions and behaviours related to biosecurity, the research project ‘Biosecurity Excellence in Port Communities’ lead by Penny Payne, Susanna Finlay-Smitts and Bruce Small from AgResearch was undertaken as part of the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) Programme.
Link to full article

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 13:35

The PBRI Plant Biosecurity Research Symposium was held at the Queensland State Library in Brisbane on the 15 and 16 August. The purpose of the symposium was to share plant biosecurity RD&E across plant industries in Australia and New Zealand, with an aim to avoid duplication of research on common biosecurity themes. This ‘sold-out’ event was the first time biosecurity research, supported by seven plant RDCs and Better Border Biosecurity (B3) New Zealand, had been discussed in one forum.

Link to full article

Thursday, 4 April, 2019 - 14:36

The detection of fruit flies in the Auckland region might lead people to wonder if our biosecurity system is failing. But, with ever increasing travel and trade as an incessant source for these pests and as a constant pressure on the border, what they should be wondering is “how is it that more flies are not found?”

Fruit flies, in particular the Queensland fruit fly (QFF), are one of the biggest risks for New Zealand horticulture. Fruit flies are the primary reason travellers have to dispose of fruit, vegetables and other plant materials at the airport or as they exit cruise ships. Fines at the border for non-disposal are a deterrent and reminder to visitors of the severe consequences to New Zealand should they establish here. Essentially we’d have a vastly changed and constrained horticultural sector, a sector that currently earns us more than $5 billion in exports each year – only slightly less than meat exports and about a third of that of the dairy industry – and employs more than 60,000 people. New Zealand has one of the best science-based biosecurity systems in the world, based on years of experience and some sound research.

The introduction of these flies to New Zealand is now well managed in commercial fruit imports, but fruit...

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019 - 08:58

Recently, researchers at Lincoln University (in Christchurch) and Better Border Biosecurity (B3) in New Zealand teamed with scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to study the dynamics of diapausing invasive brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Specifically, they sought to examine how the crop pest travels as a “stowaway” aboard cargo ships.

This story by Rob Morrison featuring Laura Nixon's work features in Entomology Today and can be read here


Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 15:21

New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industry groups are pleased to have been awarded a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) Tere grant to progress research into an invasive and unwanted plant pathogen spreading overseas.

Xylella fastidiosa, currently leaving its mark across Europe and the USA, could have devastating consequences for many horticultural industries, New Zealand’s culturally important plants and private gardeners should it arrive here. The SFF Tere project proposes a phased approach to better identify the risks posed by the pathogen to New Zealand’s primary industries and enable development of a cross-sector approach to preparation and response should it be found in New Zealand.

During the first phase known and potential impacts on a range of New Zealand’s crop and significant taonga species will be identified, as well as insects with the potential to vector spread. Phase 2 will focus on education and awareness to highlight findings and their implications. Phase 3 will then focus on developing research priorities to be progressed through a cross sector Operational Agreement for the pathogen under the Government Industry Agreement for biosecurity readiness and response (GIA). Chairman of the Xylella Action Group...

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 10:24


Better Border Biosecurity (B3) researchers are increasingly involved with the translation of their science to the broader community, including iwi, and are therefore playing an active role growing in NZ’s Biosecurity Team of 4.7 Million.

B3 is firmly behind the Ko Tātou This Is Us brand to connect and align all the actions and activities by individuals, businesses, iwi/hapū and communities across the biosecurity system to encourage further action. B3 is a national partner with the inventive House of Science charitable trustwhich provides quality science resources to schools, and professional learning for teachers, to promote positive engagement with science. Through House of Science, B3 has supported the development of the biosecurity kit (Invasion Busters – Ngā Kaiārai Kaiurutomo) that has introduced students to some key biosecurity concept in an engaging hands-on way.

The kit is available to 59 schools in the western Bay of Plenty and there are plans to release it more widely in NZ. The kit includes in the...

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