MPI awards honour those who 'go above and beyond' to protect NZ from biosecurity risks

Supreme Award winners Miraka with Penny Nelson, head of Biosecurity NZ, and Damien O'Connor, Biosecurity Minister.
Supreme Award winners Miraka with Penny Nelson, head of Biosecurity NZ, and Damien O'Connor, Biosecurity Minister. Photo credit: Supplied

A Taupō-based dairy company has taken out the top prize in the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

Miraka, a Māori-owned dairy-processing company, was given the honour on Monday evening for boosting biosecurity awareness and culture change on-farm.

Organisers said the company created an extensive course educating their suppliers about biosecurity risks in the dairy industry "from cow to bottle".

Penny Nelson, head of Biosecurity New Zealand, said the company was an example for others to follow.

She told Newshub it was a "fantastic night" and the awards "seem to be growing every year".

One of the most positive aspects of the awards was "seeing that we've got some really great up and coming community leaders doing great things on biosecurity," Nelson said.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said the awards recognised the "champions" of biosecurity in the country.

"These are the people and organisations who go above and beyond to protect Aotearoa from pests and disease to ensure our unique way of life is sustained for future generations," O'Connor said on Tuesday.

The Minister's Award was won by Linda Peacock, of Kiwifruit Vine Health in Mount Maunganui. The award recognises individuals, groups or organisations that have at least 10 years of "continuous outstanding contribution to biosecurity" in New Zealand.

"Linda is a long-standing, passionate, empathetic, focused, and enthusiastic contributor to our biosecurity system," O'Connor said. "Linda is a worthy winner of this award - she has led from the grassroots.

"For more than 30 years, Linda has worked collaboratively with growers and technical teams from all growing regions, taking science-based lessons and turning them into easily understood, practical solutions which have saved vast numbers of kiwifruit growers from undue stress and loss."

The kiwifruit industry was named as the winner of a Special Award.

O'Connor said the industry had "responded to biosecurity incursions with commitment, foresight, compassion, determination and - perhaps most importantly - collaboration.

"It has built pathways to recovery that have led to a sector that is not only at the peak of the food and fibre sectors economically, but is a powerhouse in biosecurity."

Full list of New Zealand Biosecurity Awards' winners

GIA Industry Award and New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award

Miraka - Te Ara Miraka: achieving enhanced biosecurity awareness and culture change on-farm

Department of Conservation Community Pihinga Award for new projects/initiatives

New Zealand Marine Studies Centre of Dunedin - Marine Meter Squared (Mm2): a nationwide citizen science project encouraging the public to gather information about biodiversity

Department of Conservation Community Kahiwi Award for established projects/initiatives

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust of Taranaki - ambition and determination of the community to create and sustain a pest-free sanctuary

Te Tira Whakamātaki Māori Award

Te Rawhiti 3B2 Ahu Whenua Trust of Northland - pest control and assisting with native bird re-locations in the Bay of Islands

Kura (School) Award

St Paul's Collegiate School of Hamilton - understanding biosecurity future proofing strategies in New Zealand secondary schools

Eagle Technology Local and Central Government Award

Dr Mary van Andel, MPI, Wellington - strategic leadership for Mycoplasma bovis and COVID-19 responses

Bio-Protection Research Centre Science Award

Onside, of Christchurch - network technology to inform risk-based testing, eradicating biosecurity incursions in the food and fibre sector

Mondiale Innovation Award

Groundtruth Ltd of Te Awamutu -, a leading software solution, now the largest trapping database in the country, for pest management and outcome monitoring in New Zealand.

AsureQuality Emerging Leader Award

Thomas (Tame) Malcolm of Te Tira Whakamātaki and Te Arawa Waka - more than a decade's experience  and commitment  in environmental management roles across the country

Minister's Biosecurity Award

Linda Peacock of Kiwifruit Vine Health in Mount Maunganui  - worked collaboratively with growers and technical teams for more than 30 years from all growing regions

Special Award

New Zealand kiwifruit industry for outstanding commitment to biosecurity