A group of 50 New Zealand companies have signed a first-of-its-kind pledge to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The Biosecurity Business Pledge – which includes some of New Zealand's biggest businesses, including Fonterra, Auckland Airport, Goodman Fielder, Countdown and Mainfreight – was launched today by participating businesses and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor.

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"As a nation that depends on trade and tourism, and a country whose lifestyle is linked to our unique natural environment, having a culture of everyone taking responsibility for biosecurity is vital" O'Connor said.

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"Our primary sector is worth more than $46.4 billion dollars annually and tourism is worth more than $39 billion. The economic benefits of that flow through to all New Zealanders and we have to protect it.

Chief executive officer of Miraka, Richard Wyeth. Photo / Supplied
Chief executive officer of Miraka, Richard Wyeth. Photo / Supplied

The aim of the pledge was to take a more proactive approach to biosecurity by improving the partnership between government and businesses and to help prevent unnecessary costs and disruptions for Kiwi businesses, communities and the wider New Zealand economy said O'Connor.

Chief executive officer of participating company Miraka, Richard Wyeth, said the pledge initiative was created by business for business.

"The new pledge network will provide increased support to businesses in driving their own proactive biosecurity activity with staff, suppliers and customers. It's good business risk management. It's also part of caring for the communities we live and work in.

"As businesses signing the pledge we're making a commitment to more actively integrate biosecurity into our business activities and supply chains" he said.

Norwood Logistics Manager Stephan Hansen (left) and Norwood GM Operations Craig Kelland with Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor. Photo / Supplied
Norwood Logistics Manager Stephan Hansen (left) and Norwood GM Operations Craig Kelland with Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor. Photo / Supplied

The latest KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, released earlier this year, revealed biosecurity was ranked as the top issue for New Zealand business leaders for the 10th year in a row.

"Biosecurity remains a priority for the Government" O'Connor said.

"I'd like to thank the inaugural businesses for the leadership they have shown in creating the pledge.

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"Today we have taken a major step forward. Taking a proactive approach to biosecurity will help protect New Zealand's unique natural environment, the New Zealand way of life and our economy for future generations".

Chief executive of Meat Industry Association NZ, Tim Ritchie (left), with Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor. Photo / Supplied
Chief executive of Meat Industry Association NZ, Tim Ritchie (left), with Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor. Photo / Supplied

About the pledge

Businesses pledge to play their part in the efforts to prevent pests and diseases from getting into New Zealand, or helping to stop their spread if they do get here.

Businesses commit to being an active part of New Zealand's biosecurity team of all New Zealanders by integrating proactive biosecurity practices into their operations and supply chains.

They commit to:

• Actively seek to understand and manage the biosecurity considerations associated with their business activities.

• Promote a culture of proactive biosecurity management within their operations, across their business, around their board tables, and across their teams.

• Incorporate biosecurity into their procurement policies that guide the selection of goods, travel, logistics, and service providers.

• Take opportunities to support their customers, staff, suppliers and stakeholders to understand the importance of biosecurity and what good biosecurity practice looks like.

• Approach biosecurity with the view that it is everyone's responsibility, that risk is best managed offshore, and that they will actively engage with the Ministry for Primary Industries to support better biosecurity outcomes for New Zealand.