National Biosecurity Capability Network

We all have a part to play in protecting New Zealand from harmful pests and diseases – and you can help. Learn about the National Biosecurity Capability Network (NBCN) and how you can play your part in biosecurity responses.

What is the NBCN?

The NBCN is a network of organisations that help Biosecurity New Zealand respond to biosecurity outbreaks in New Zealand. The network provides resources, people, and knowledge to help Biosecurity New Zealand and our government protect the country. For example, if there's a fruit fly response we'll call on network members to help us with tasks such as leaflet drops, public awareness, fruit picking, surveillance of traps, and spraying.

There is a growing number of responses each year, and Biosecurity New Zealand needs more people and resources to be deployed to manage these. In 2019/20 we are reviewing the way we use resources so that we can respond more effectively and quickly. New Zealanders could lose a lot from any biosecurity threat.

Leading by example

The NBCN is a world-leading initiative – no other country has a similar task force or process. It is a part of New Zealand's wider plan for biosecurity, and by 2025 we want to have a biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders.

Biosecurity 2025

Examples of some of our responses

How the NBCN is managed

The NBCN is managed by Biosecurity New Zealand, with the assistance of contractors when required. Biosecurity New Zealand manages the engagement and relationship with members, as well as workshops and training. In a response, contractors such as AsureQuality manage the field tasks with members at a regional control centre. On behalf of Biosecurity New Zealand, AsureQuality also manages the response role coordination, deployment, and any on-site training/induction with members.

What skills or experience do I need to be involved in a Biosecurity New Zealand response?

You don't need to have any specialist biosecurity experience or skills to be a part of the network. If there's a biosecurity outbreak, we'll need a wide range of skills – and all of them will be important. This will include:

  • administration
  • general labour
  • transport logistics
  • waste management.

Specialist skills and knowledge

Your organisation may have people with the skills and knowledge we will need in a response. Biosecurity New Zealand can help you work out which of your staff have these skills, and we can provide specialist training to develop them.

Skills and knowledge that will valuable in a response include:

  • operations management
  • logistics
  • movement control and permitting
  • surveillance
  • tracing
  • intelligence
  • team management
  • planning
  • subject-matter expertise
  • assessment of crops, livestock, and other flora and fauna
  • veterinary work
  • pest extermination – setting and observing traps
  • welfare services – both human and animal.

Job descriptions

How companies benefit from being a member

You'll get paid for helping

Companies work on a contract when they help out through the NBCN.

Your business will be kept busy

If an outbreak affects your industry you may be unable to work. But if you work during an outbreak as an NBCN member you can continue to earn during the event.

Staff get extra training

Biosecurity New Zealand uses the coordinated incident management system (CIMS). This is used by all of New Zealand’s emergency services and agencies to manage adverse events such as earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks, and biosecurity incursions. We run workshops to help organisations match their staff’s skills to emergency functions or roles under CIMS.

Biosecurity New Zealand is working with the following organisations to upskill on CIMS and response training:

  • regional councils
  • iwi
  • government agencies
  • industry
  • government-industry agreement members
  • existing NBCN members.

Find out more about CIMS – Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management

How the NBCN helps New Zealand communities

As a part of the NBCN, you'll help to protect your region and community from the financial losses that biosecurity outbreaks can cause. You will also be prepared to respond to threats more quickly and effectively.

During a crisis, this reach and ability can be what's needed to avoid disaster. It will also help keep your region and New Zealand safer and healthier for future generations.

Biosecurity threats are dangerous to New Zealand

Unwanted pests and diseases pose an extreme risk to New Zealand's environment and economy, and could significantly affect our indigenous cultures and our people.

  • New Zealand is isolated – our ecosystems don’t have much resilience against a lot of overseas threats.
  • Our economy depends on the natural environment – this includes farms, fisheries, and forests. Biosecurity risks could seriously damage all of these.
  • The growth of tourism increases the risk of pests entering the country.
  • Increasing trade and imports increase the risk of pests entering New Zealand.

NBCN members

Biosecurity threats pose an extreme risk to the New Zealand economy and environment. The more help we have, the better we’re prepared as a nation.

In 2019/20 there are likely to be changes to the structure and look of the NBCN. Over this period there are still opportunities for us to work together to prepare for biosecurity incursions. If you would like to know more or think that your organisation could help, email

In the past we have been assisted by:

  • commercial organisations
  • community groups
  • government agencies
  • regional and unitary councils councils
  • iwi
  • industry partners.


Video: Biosecurity responses (4.24)


[A selection of shots and voice outtakes from news reports is shown, discussing the 2015 fruit fly outbreak in Auckland.]

News reporter 1: "The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a single Queensland fruit fly has been discovered in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn."

News reporter 2: "... is in lockdown after the discovery of a potentially devastating fruit fly."

News reporter 3: "There are restrictions in place …"

News reporter 4: "That’s 1.5 km from where the fly was trapped and includes the zoo and Western Springs."

[Title appears – Biosecurity Response Initial Information.]

[Shots of people responding to the biosecurity outbreak.]

Mike Langford – NBCN relationship coordinator AsureQuality: "We've had a number of fruit fly incursions into New Zealand in the last few years.

In the Auckland fruit fly response in 2015, we discovered through the help of the public that there was a breeding population in New Zealand. The control methods that we use are internationally approved because we have to guarantee to our trading partners that there are no flies left in New Zealand.

By being involved in this response, you're playing an important role in protecting New Zealand from financial losses, protecting the environment, and protecting our primary industries.

Once a response is initiated, we actually spring into action very quickly. We have a number of work streams that we use. Organism management – and that primarily is around controlling the organism itself.

The second workstream is movement control, and that's all about stopping the spread of the organism around New Zealand. We determine where the organism is situated, and we want to restrict it to that particular area. So to do that we have to get on side with the community – we have to let them know what they need to do to prevent this being spread further.

We'll have lots of announcements in the media. We also put signage up. Depending on the area we may visit people individually or we may do leaflet drops. The Biosecurity Act says that if you do not comply with the instructions, you are liable to prosecution for non-compliance.

In the case of a fruit fly response, depending on the outcome of our surveillance work, we have different levels of responses. What we call a level one response – our primary function is to identify if we have a breeding population of fruit flies in New Zealand. Mainly, we go out setting up traps to try and capture insects and identify if we have more fruit flies.

In the event we find that we have a breeding population (which could be indicated by male and female fruit flies or eggs or larvae) then we have to escalate our response. And that's when we start moving into the areas of trying to kill off the fly population. That effectively means we start to use different control measures around eradication, and those things include applying insecticides to kill off the flies and the larvae.

If we were using something that you might consider hazardous, we always follow the health and safety legislation and the appropriate codes of practice to make sure that people don't come to harm.

Whenever we have a response there's always going to be an impact on the community. With the fruit fly response, there are always going to be controls on the movement of fruit and vegetables out of the area where we found the fruit flies. It does provide restrictions on people that sell fruit and vegetables, and it also means that people who grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and normally share them with their family and their friends, they wouldn't be able to do that.

The measures that we put in place can be quite restricting on the community, but they're not taken lightly, and we always appreciate the community's support in controlling what is effectively a very damaging organism to New Zealand.

Regardless of what people do in the response, whether they're participating actively in the management, or even just supporting us through complying with the movement controls and the regulations and the rules that we put in place – it's very, very important, and the Ministry for Primary Industries, and everybody involved, always appreciates the efforts people put into the response. We quite often hear that in biosecurity in New Zealand there are 4 million people involved.

[Video title appears again – Biosecurity Response Initial Information.]

[End of transcript]

Find out more

Biosecurity – a legal overview

Who to contact

If you have any questions about the information on this page, email

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