Meeting core capacity requirements for international points of entry

The Ministry of Health leads the programme to ensure New Zealand’s international airports and seaports meet the standards of public health preparedness expected by the international community.

Public health units work in cooperation with our international airports and ports and other border stakeholders to ensure that our designated points of entry meet the core capacities (or standards) required under the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR). Border health protection officers in public health units confirm and verify annually that the IHR-designated points of entry in their region continue to meet the core capacities.

Border health core capacities

The core capacities are regarded as critical for identifying and managing potential public health risks including preventing the international spread of disease. There are two types of core capacities that are required at our IHR-designated international airports and seaports.

Capacities required at all times

These capacities are regarded as business as usual and set out some fundamental capacities that all points of entry (seaports and airports) should routinely have in place, including:

  • access to medical staff and diagnostic staff and equipment
  • access to staff and equipment for the recovery and transportation of ill travellers
  • access to trained personnel for the inspection of aircraft or ships
  • a healthy environment for users of international airport or seaport facilities, including safe water and food, clean catering facilities and washrooms, sewage and waste disposal services and an inspection programme
  • access to trained staff and programmes for vector control (eg, rats and mosquitoes). In practice, this means vector control surveillance programmes.

Capacities required during a public health emergency of international concern

These capacities focus on being prepared for, and being able to appropriately respond to, a significant public health event that could impact on the international community (eg, a pandemic). These include:

  • emergency response planning and coordination
  • communication contact points for relevant airports and ports, public health authorities, and other agencies
  • assessment and care for affected travellers, animals, and goods by establishing arrangements with medical and veterinary facilities for isolation and treatment
  • space to interview suspect or affected persons away from other travellers
  • assessment and quarantine of suspect or affected travellers at facilities away from the international port or airport
  • recommended control measures to disinsect, disinfect, and decontaminate baggage and other cargo
  • entry/exit controls for arriving and departing passengers
  • access to required equipment and protection gear for personnel to transfer travellers with infection/contamination.

Verifying the core capacities at airports and ports

An initial assessment of New Zealand’s international points of entry against the IHR core capacity requirements was undertaken in 2012 and 2013. Local public health units, identified as competent authorities under the IHR, led the detailed assessment process for the international airports and seaports in their jurisdictions.

Following the initial designation assessment an annual verification process was introduced. Each point of entry is assessed to confirm the core capacities are being maintained. Local public health units lead this process and report their findings to the Ministry by submitting an annual border health report. To inform these reports, public health units conduct a verification assessment of the core capacities. The assessment includes a range of activities including:

  • gathering updated evidence to confirm the core capacities are being maintained
  • checking progress on any matters requiring improvements from the previous year’s verification
  • undertaking training
  • testing and exercising public health planning and contingency plans for emergency events
  • maintaining stakeholder relationships – for example, through briefings and meetings.

Annual verification reports are submitted to the Ministry in January each year. The Ministry then collates and analyses the information provided from across the country. If significant shortcomings are identified, or key learnings found that would be of value to other ports or airports, then this information is communicated to public health units. The Ministry then provides an annual report to the World Health Organization on the status of New Zealand international points of entry.

New Zealand’s IHR-designated international airports and seaports

These are the airports and ports in New Zealand currently designated under the IHR.


  • Auckland International Airport
  • Christchurch International Airport
  • Wellington International Airport
  • Dunedin International Airport
  • Whenuapai Air Base
  • Ohakea Air Base.

International ports

  • Centreport (Wellington)
  • Eastland Port Limited (Gisborne)
  • Lyttleton Port of Christchurch
  • Northport (Whangarei)
  • Marsden Point
  • Opua (Bay of Islands)
  • Ports of Auckland Limited
  • Port Marlborough (Picton)
  • Port of Napier Limited
  • Port Nelson Limited
  • Port Otago (Port Chalmers and Port of Dunedin)
  • Port Taranaki (New Plymouth)
  • Port of Tauranga
  • PrimePort (Timaru)
  • South Port NZ Limited (Bluff).

A list of New Zealand sea ports that can issue ship sanitation certificates (including those that are not IHR-designated ports) is available at Ship Sanitation Certification system.

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