Why agricultural checks are so important in New Zealand
When you first arrive in New Zealand, you may be surprised at the high level of security found in our airports. Many first-time visitors are surprised at the questions asking about time spent on farms or outside of cities, and many people are stopped at the airport because of it.
Trade and travel are vital for New Zealand, but they’re also the main reason why pests and diseases make their way into the country. If pests and diseases get into New Zealand, they can pose a threat to our unique and special flora and fauna, and they can even be dangerous for human health and our trade and economy.
As much as 80 per cent of the country’s trees, ferns, and flowering plants are endemic, and an estimated 1-15 per cent of the land is covered with native flora. On top of this, we have many endemic and native birds and creatures.
As New Zealand battles to both conserve what we currently have and repopulate the endangered species, we must do everything possible to ensure those efforts aren’t wasted by the introduction of foreign bugs and diseases.
That’s why, at the border, you must declare food of any kind, plants (alive or dead), animals (alive or dead), or any equipment used with animals or in the great outdoors.
For the most part, these items will clear customs straight away.
Some people will incorrectly think that declaring such items will mean the loss of those items, and fail to properly declare them. This scenario can result in an instant $400 fine, and lead to more serious fines – or even a jail term for extreme breaches of the biosecurity laws.
While all of this may sound severe, the point is to protect the natural, beautiful place we call home to ensure it’s just as wonderful (if not more so) for future generations.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist