NRC staffer finalist in New Zealand Biosecurity Awards

23 Sep 2022, 8:41 AM

A Northland Regional Council (NRC) marine biosecurity specialist has been named a finalist in this year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

The awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country and Aless Smith is one of three finalists in the awards’ AsureQuality Emerging Leader Award.

The 27-year-old joined the council in 2021 from Otago University’s New Zealand Marine Studies Centre where she had worked in marine education.

Council Group Manager Biosecurity Don McKenzie says Ms Smith’s leadership in marine science and education is a ‘standout’.

“She is an inspiration to anyone who has an interest in our oceans and marine biodiversity.”

In notes accompanying the finalists, the awards’ organisers say the strength Ms Smith exhibits in being able to lead, support, encourage and mentor her colleagues had seen her promoted to a marine biosecurity specialist.

“This senior role acknowledges her specialised skill set and contribution to the marine biosecurity programme and beyond that to the NRC wider biosecurity team.”

The notes say Ms Smith leads by example and is no stranger to throwing herself into the operational mahi.

“Her leadership qualities have resulted in her representing NRC nationally, and leading or being a key support to the majority of the Top of the North’s collaborative behaviour change initiatives.” “These initiatives are critical to effectively managing pest and disease pathways between the regions.”

This is the sixth year of the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards with this year’s winner to be announced in Auckland on Monday 31 October.

Taipa Area School is also one of three finalists for the awards’ New Zealand Biosecurity Kura (School) Award.

The school’s Project Predator was launched three years ago in response to increasing numbers of “dead grey ghosts” (dying pohutukawa) along the Taipa coastline in the Far North.

Aless Smith with jars of marine pests.

Aless Smith, finalist in this year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards