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Double peer recognition for NRC biosecurity staff

16 Aug 2018

Northland Regional Council staff have secured two of three national awards made by their biosecurity peers across New Zealand; one for achievement in pest plant education and advocacy, and the other for innovation. 

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 says with just three awards given out each year by the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute (NZBI) at its national conference, it’s a very special honour for Northlanders to secure two of them. 

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 annual conference was held in Nelson late last month with the theme ‘Shining the Light on Innovation’. 

Sara Brill – known to many Northlanders for the hugely popular pest plant workshops she runs every winter – was nominated for her tireless work in plant pest education and advocacy. 

Councillor Sinclair says Ms Brill has a lifelong interest in plants and willingly shares that knowledge 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.” 

Cam Bunton’s innovation award recognises 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 can do. 

Councillor Sinclair says Mr Bunton began his council career as a cadet about six years ago and is 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 from doing something different or going the extra mile to deliver projects.” 

Councillor Sinclair says the duo’s success comes not long after the council’s innovative marine biosecurity programme was recognised at the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards. 

The programme aims to educate the community on marine pest threats, pursue new technologies and carry out active surveillance of more than 2000 vessels each year.  It was a finalist and highly commended in the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact. 

Councillor Sinclair says biosecurity is a key and wide-ranging regional council role and councillors are delighted that Northlanders are 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.”

Know your enemy…Marine biosecurity member Cam Bunton demonstrates his land-based pest identification skills to his colleague, pest plant expert Sara Brill.  The duo has just been nationally recognised for their respective contributions to biosecurity.

Know your enemy…Marine biosecurity member Cam Bunton demonstrates his land-based pest identification skills to his colleague, pest plant expert Sara Brill. The duo has just been nationally recognised for their respective contributions to biosecurity.