Protecting health at New Zealand’s border

Close up of an unidentified type of mosquito sitting on human skin.New Zealand is free of many exotic diseases and their vectors. Effective quarantine and biosecurity procedures prevent the entry of these diseases or their carriers.

Sea ports at Timaru and Lyttelton, and Christchurch International Airport are potential entry points for these diseases.

Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health’s border health activities at these locations includes:

  • monitoring for exotic mosquitoes at ports and Christchurch Airport;
  • responding to notifications of exotic mosquito interceptions and incursions;
  • responding to ill passengers on international flights or visiting cruise ships; and
  • inspecting ships for sanitary conditions and disease-carrying animals and insects such as mosquitoes and rats.

Te Mana Ora| Community and Public Health are particularly focussed on mosquito-borne diseases and highly infectious diseases. Staff are ready to respond to any concerns that arise.

Exotic mosquitoes pose a life-threatening public health threat

HPO Bruce Waddleton checking a mosquito trap.Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health staff conduct mosquito surveillance activities to prevent exotic mosquitoes spreading serious illnesses such as Ross River Virus and Dengue Fever in New Zealand. This involves:

  • doing regular mosquito surveys at potential entry ports;
  • responding to suspected exotic mosquito sightings or reports, and
  • answering questions and complaints about mosquitos.

New Zealand is an appealing environment for exotic mosquitoes and it is possible that they could become established in the South Island. Introduced species are very difficult and expensive to get rid of once established. New Zealand has 12 native species of mosquito and 3 well-established introduced species.

Lyttelton and Timaru are busy sea ports that receive tonnes of high risk cargo every week (such as tyres, cars and machinery) from destinations such as Japan and other Asian countries. The Lyttelton port is near large areas of bush land – a mosquito-friendly habitat – and there is also a town very close.

Christchurch International Airport receives passengers and cargo from around the world. It has many sites that would suit container-breeding mosquitoes.

Responding to infectious diseases and other international events

The International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 now take an ‘all hazards’ approach by including all events of a chemical, biological or radiological nature and are no longer just about responding to quarantinable diseases.

Christchurch International Airport Limited and Lyttelton Port of Christchurch are designated as Points of Entry under the IHR. This means they need to have met the required core capacities at all times.

Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health makes sure that sea ports and airports are ready to deal with a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by:

  • maintaining emergency response plans;
  • assessing unwell international travellers and crew; and
  • developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders.



Contact your local office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777

Ph: +64 3 687 2600

Ph: +64 3 768 1160

Isolation and quarantine functions moves to health system

National quarantine and isolation capability NQC (formally known as MIQ) transferred back to the health system on 1st July 2023.

In June 2020, Cabinet agreed that overall responsibility for Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) would be transferred to MBIE as part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to the COVID pandemic. This was because MBIE had the capability at the time to stand up systems at pace.

New Zealand’s experience with COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of being ready for future threats, and the move of national quarantine and isolation capability back to the health system is an opportunity to prepare Aotearoa New Zealand well for that.

Quarantine and isolation functions are fundamentally public health interventions and align most closely with the work and priorities of Te Whatu Ora, Te Aka Whai Ora and Manatū Hauora.

The responsibility for the functions that were previously part of MIQ (national quarantine and isolation capability) were transferred to each respective agency as follows on 1st July 2023:

  • Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) – Operational functions of quarantine and isolation capacity, including maintenance, testing and maturation of New Zealand’s existing Quarantine and Isolation Capability (QIC) Readiness Plan and development of proposal for investment in an evolving portfolio of self, community and managed quarantine and isolation interventions.
  • Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) – Policy, strategy and leadership.
  • Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority) – Collaborative work across the health agencies to ensure all policy advice and operational planning places whānau at the heart of the system to improve equity and outcomes.

Page last updated: 22/04/2024

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