Col­lec­tive unites in biose­cu­rity fight

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By KIRI GILLE­SPIE

The threat of los­ing Mauao’s iconic po­hutukawa to a for­eign virus has prompted the com­ing to­gether of 19 Tau­ranga-based or­gan­i­sa­tions in what is be­lieved to be a New Zealand first.

The newly formed Tau­ranga Moana Biose­cu­rity Cap­i­tal is tasked with strength­en­ing pro­tec­tion for our bor­ders from in­va­sive pests and dev­as­tat­ing viruses. The col­lec­tive plans to in­crease aware­ness among the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion and ad­vo­cate for bet­ter biose­cu­rity.

Group co-chair­man Graeme Mar­shall said he be­lieved the group was the first re­gional col­lec­tive to form with the biose­cu­rity fo­cus in mind. He hoped their ef­forts would help in­spire oth­ers.

“It’s re­ally about Tau­ranga Moana Biose­cu­rity Cap­i­tal be­ing an ex­em­plar at a lo­cal level and how this can be im­ple­mented,” he said.

The col­lec­tive in­cludes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Nga¯i Te Rangi, Ngati Rang­inui, Nga¯ti Pu¯kenga, the Bay of Plenty Re­gional Coun­cil, Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, Biose­cu­rity New Zealand, House of Sci­ence, For­est Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, New Zealand Avo­cado, NZ Land­care, Tau­ranga City Coun­cil, Trevelyan’s, Kiwi Vine Health, Port of Tau­ranga, Ze­spri, West­ern Bay of Plenty District Coun­cil, B3, Uni­ver­sity of Waikato, and New Zealand’s Bi­o­log­i­cal Her­itage.

The group’s for­ma­tion comes as a na­tional biose­cu­rity Ko Ta¯tou This Is Us cam­paign launches this week­end.

“What we are en­deav­our­ing to do is to re­ally high­light the fact that what’s at risk is how we live, how we work and how we play, and get that home to peo­ple so peo­ple know they have a part to play.”

Mar­shall said the col­lec­tive formed fol­low­ing con­cern, par­tic­u­larly at an iwi level, sur­round­ing the threat of myr­tle rust on Mauao’s po­hutukawa trees. The Bay’s fight against Psa in re­cent years was also fresh in the minds of those in­volved.

Ki­wifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu Hutch­ings said the Bay of Plenty had such a strong port and hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try that a vig­i­lant biose­cu­rity net­work was vi­tal.

“We only have to think of the days when Psa came in. It wasn’t just the grow­ers who were af­fected. It was shops, schools, busi­nesses, truck­ies. The whole com­mu­nity felt the im­pact of it.”

KVH was es­tab­lished in De­cem­ber 2010 to lead the in­dus­try re­sponse to Psa with the ki­wifruit dis­ease which dev­as­tated the sec­tor.

In March this year, a Col­mar Brun­ton poll found 61 per cent of New Zealan­ders un­der­stood what biose­cu­rity was and why it was im­por­tant, but only 2 per cent thought it was rel­a­tive to them.

The Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries has set a tar­get of in­creas­ing the 61 per cent to 75 per cent by 2025.

Biose­cu­rity Min­is­ter Damien O’Con­nor ap­plauded the Tau­ranga Moana Biose­cu­rity Cap­i­tal’s ef­forts and will be here to of­fi­cially launch it on Oc­to­ber 16.

“The Tau­ranga Moana Biose­cu­rity Cap­i­tal con­cept shows lead­er­ship by lo­cal peo­ple who are work­ing to­gether to pro­tect their re­gion. It’d be great to see more of the same spring up,” O’Con­nor said.

PHOTO / AN­DREW WARNER

Tau­ranga Moana Biose­cu­rity Cap­i­tal co-chair­men Graeme Mar­shall and Carl­ton Bi­dois are head­ing a newly formed col­lec­tive.

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