From the frontline
The summer rush is on and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been handling a substantial volume of passengers at our airports. Numbers at Auckland have been up 5% on last year, and more than 18,000 travellers were processed on the airports busiest day.
Statistics for December alone:
· 692,088 air passengers processed
· 1,412 infringement notices issued
· 3,008 mail items opened and inspected
· 1,233 loaded containers inspected
Some weird and wonderful interceptions of interest from our borders over the period include:
· A Belgian air passenger was forced to leave New Zealand after attempting to smuggle three sausages (spotted by an x-ray operator) into Auckland in a backpack.
· A 16kg box of abandoned apples found at Wellington airport. MPI officials inspected them and thankfully there were no signs of fruit fly found.
· An ornamental reindeer made of dried vines was part of the Christmas decorations on a private jet from China. Because the plane was headed for other domestic airports the reindeer couldn’t travel any further and had to be destroyed.
· A Western Conifer Seed Bug (from the same family as Brown Marmorated Stink Bug) was found in an imported vehicle. The bug has an appetite for fir trees and is a nuisance in homes over winter.
· Taika Waititi and Hilary Swank were in New Zealand over the summer and he took the opportunity to remind social media followers of the apple incident of 2005, when MPI fined the actress for not declaring an apple. The post certainly had people thinking about New Zealand’s biosecurity rules as it built up more than 60,000 likes.
MPI produce a regular newsletter about what’s being done at the border to keep unwanted pests and diseases at bay. It also includes interesting data and you can subscribe here.