Agencies supporting border health

The border health roles or responsibilities of agencies or groups supporting border health.

Aviation Security Service (Avsec)

An operational unit within the Civil Aviation Authority (see below). Avsec’s work includes screening and searching passengers, crew, airport workers, baggage, aircraft, cargo, vehicles etc, undertaking security patrols, and supporting the Police and other agencies at the border. Aviation Security Officers are located at key New Zealand airports an provide frontline aviation security services. As part of the COVID-19 response Avsec staff also supported the operations at airports and manged isolation facilities.

Border Executive Board

A Board comprised of senior representatives from key government border agencies, which was established under the Public Service Act 2020. The Board makes strategic decisions about border matters and helps co-ordinate the management of the New Zealand border – for example, by assisting the agencies to improve border processes, ensuring risks from people, goods, and craft arriving at the borders are addressed, and making strategic improvements to border systems. The Board reports to the Minister for COVID-19 Response and is serviced by the New Zealand Customs Service.   

Border Working Group

A group of government agencies that meets to consider cross-agency border issues and supports the operationalisation of border controls. Members include New Zealand Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, NZ Police and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Civil Aviation Authority

The government agency responsible for managing New Zealand’s civil aviation system through the delivery of regulatory, safety, and security services.

Department of Conservation

The Department has an interest in pests or diseases that could harm indigenous flora and fauna or natural ecosystems because such organisms may impact on the conservation values (lands, species, resources).  It is, therefore, interested in the movement of new organisms, pests, and diseases across New Zealand’s border.

Health protection officers (HPOs)

Frontline statutory officers designated by the Director-General of Health to administer statutory functions in relation to public health – including relevant border control activities (eg, granting pratique, inspecting vessels for quarantinable or infectious diseases, implementing the ship sanitation certification system, issuing cleansing orders, etc). They exercise their functions within their health districts. 

Immigration New Zealand (INZ)

The government agency that looks after New Zealand’s immigration rules and laws for people who want to visit, work, study, live, start a business, or invest in New Zealand. It works with other government agencies, international organisations, and industry partners to improve border security and make immigration easier. INZ is responsible for the movement of people through New Zealand’s border. INZ staff screen travellers before and when they arrive in New Zealand and works alongside other government agencies to control any risks, including public health risks, posed by travellers. INZ sits within MBIE.

Local authorities

These include regional, district, and city councils. Collectively such agencies are responsible for harbour navigation and safety, oil spills, and other marine pollution, developing and implementing pest management plans and strategies, and developing regional policy statements and strategies. 

Regional councils employ harbourmasters who manage waterways of ports and harbours and make decisions regarding the manner and circumstances in which commercial vessels enter and leave their ports. 
Local authorities work alongside government agencies and public health units to monitor and manage risks to or from New Zealand’s border. 

Maritime New Zealand

The national regulatory compliance and response agency for the safety, security and environmental protection of coastal and inland waterways. Health officials often work with Maritime New Zealand on regulation and compliance activities or in maritime incidents and emergencies.

Medical officers of health

Officers designated by the Director-General of Health to administer statutory functions in relation to public health – including relevant border control activities.  Such officers are medical practitioners suitably qualified and experienced in public health medicine. They exercise their functions in their health districts. 

Medical Officers of Health can delegate/authorise Health Protection Officers or other persons to carry out specified delegated functions under the Health Act 1956. 

Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health has the statutory authority for ensuring that measures are in place to protect public health. It is responsible for providing advice to government on all matters relating to human health, including border health, and working with all border stakeholders to manage border risk.

The Ministry has an administrative role in designating and supporting the training of frontline statutory health officers such as medical officers of health and health protection officers. 

The Ministry of Health is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the International Health Regulations 2005, which seek to prevent and control the international spread of disease.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

The lead agency for biosecurity and provides policy advice, regulatory and operational services to deliver biosecurity outcomes, including primary production, marine, conservation and social, including health outcomes. MPI staff regularly meet craft arriving in New Zealand and check for biosecurity risks and delivers the national aircraft dissention programme. MPI authorises and audits New Zealand places of first arrival (designated ports and airports) and manages transitional facilities (where imported goods are checked and cleared). Such facilities can help protect against both biosecurity and public health risks (eg, exotic mosquitoes).

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Advises the government on how to improve productivity and growth across the tourism sector. The Ministry collects, analyses and publishes local and international tourism data and supports communications with key sector stakeholders (eg, the hotel industry and cruise ship industry). Immigration New Zealand is part of the Ministry (see above).

Ministry of Transport

The government agency responsible for providing advice on and support to the transport system to ensure it continues to support the New Zealand economy and the transport needs of New Zealanders. This includes administering transport-related legislation (including in the maritime and aviation sectors).

New Zealand Customs Service (Customs)

Customs is responsible for ensuring the security of New Zealand’s borders. It ensures that lawful travellers and goods can move across New Zealand’s borders as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Customs administers and enforces a range of border controls at the maritime and aviation borders. For example, Customs staff receive and process craft and passenger arrival documentation (which contains information needed by a range of agencies – including health status information regarding the people on board). Customs has a strong physical presence at international ports and airports and supports the delivery of public health measures.     

Public Health Units

Public health units implement border health measures and controls. They have staff who will monitor and respond to public health issues relating to biosecurity and quarantine purposes, including: 

  • Imported risk goods
  • Disease vector surveillance and control
  • Preparation and testing of contingency plans for emergency responses
  • Responding to reported sickness on board air/sea craft arriving in New Zealand
  • Ensuring designated airports and seaports are maintaining core public health capacities (eg, sanitation, drinking water, access to health facilities, etc)
  • Rodent and vector control
  • Liaison with the Ministry of Health, other providers, local government and others
  • Participation in national, regional, and local emergency arrangements and responses, participating in and/or carrying out prompt, effective and efficient investigations of, and responses to, biosecurity and quarantine issues.
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