Biosecurity Act 1993 overhaul

The terms of reference for the overhaul of the Biosecurity Act 1993 was released in July 2019. We’re going to work with iwi, industry and the public to make sure the Act is fit for the future. Find out more about the overhaul.


New Zealand's biosecurity system helps protect our economy, environment, and people from unwanted pests and diseases.

Our biosecurity system is underpinned by the Biosecurity Act 1993. The Act provides the legal framework for MPI and other organisations to help keep harmful organisms out of New Zealand. It also provides the framework for how we respond, and manage organisms, if any make it into the country.

But the Act needs an overhaul.

We're working with Māori, industry partners, environmental groups and others to look at what changes the Act might need – both now and for the future.

Why the Act is being updated

The biosecurity system is facing increasing pressures. These include:

  • growth and diversity in trade and tourism
  • increases in the number of packages arriving in New Zealand through online purchasing
  • climate change
  • pressure from established pests.

Updating the 26-year-old Act will ensure our biosecurity system remains robust and resilient in the face of these challenges.

Find out more about the overhaul [PDF, 238 KB]

What will be covered

The main things we'll look at include:

  • the Act's overarching purpose and set of guiding principles
  • how te ao Māori (the Māori world) is reflected in biosecurity regulation
  • clear and consistent roles and responsibilities across the biosecurity system
  • how the system is funded, including for biosecurity responses
  • setting import requirements
  • getting the right balance between enforcement and incentives
  • filling gaps in the legislation that past biosecurity responses and other events have revealed.

More details are in the terms of reference [PDF, 260 KB]

Timeline for the overhaul

Some changes will be rolled out quicker than others.

Our first focus – ending in 2019

We want to resolve the most urgent issues around the Biosecurity Act first. These issues are mostly economic and include how we:

  • pay for biosecurity responses
  • compensate people
  • work with industry partners to ensure that decision-making is effective.

We plan to finish public consultation for this first stage by the end of 2019.

Second focus – ending in 2020

For other issues in the overhaul, we’ll need more time to resolve them properly. These issues include those that have outcomes that are environmental, social, and cultural. They will involve discussions, including:

  • with the Crown’s treaty partners and iwi in general
  • with regional councils, over the role central government asks them to play in biosecurity
  • how we want to manage our import health system.

Having more time means we can discuss these issues with the people who are most directly affected by them first. Then, we can widen our discussions to include the public.

We plan to finish public consultation for this second stage in the second half of 2020.

Having your say

All New Zealanders will have a chance to have their say during the overhaul. We'll update this page when we're doing a formal public consultation on any potential changes.

If you have questions about the overhaul, email

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