Northland Regional Council staff have won two of three national awards, conferred by their peers around the country, for their contributions to biosecurity.
Pest plant expert Sara Brill won the Peter Ingram Award for achievement in pest plant advocacy, education or management, while marine biosecurity colleague Cameron Bunton received the new Dave Galloway Award for innovation (for the online Pest Control Hub).
Council deputy chairman David Sinclair said it was a special honour for Northlanders to win two of just three awards presented each year by the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute (NZBI).
The institute is an incorporated society with membership open to anyone interested in biosecurity issues, and represents agency and industry sectors as well as local government. Its 2018 conference, in Nelson, had the theme Shining the Light on Innovation.
Cr Sinclair said Ms Brill, known to many Northlanders for the hugely popular pest plant workshops she ran every winter, was nominated for her tireless work in plant pest education and advocacy, willingly sharing her lifelong interest in and knowledge of plants with others.
"Sara has won wide respect amongst those she works with, and is a fantastic role model and mentor, both for our pest plant staff and the wider community," he said.
Mr Bunton's innovation award recognised his involvement helping to develop initiatives like the award-winning Northland Pest Control Hub (www.nrc.govt.nz/pestcontrolhub), an interactive information portal for the public to find out more about biosecurity and what the regional council could do.
Mr Bunton had begun his council career as a cadet about six years ago, and was now a valued member of its marine biosecurity team.
"Cam's an innovative thinker who has been heavily involved with improving biosecurity processes, and is never shy about doing something different or going the extra mile to deliver projects," Cr Sinclair said.
The awards, he added, followed recognition of the council's innovative marine biosecurity programme at this year's Local Government New Zealand Excellence Awards.
The programme, designed to educate the community on marine pest threats, pursue new technologies and carry out active surveillance of more than 2000 vessels every year, was a finalist and highly commended in the award for environmental impact.
Biosecurity was a key and wide-ranging regional council role, and councillors were delighted that Northlanders were being so well-served by staff working in that field.
"Northlanders can be rightly very proud of Sara and Cam, their biosecurity colleagues and other council staff who work so diligently on their behalf," he said.