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MOU on quarantine certification signed between Tonga and New Zealand

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 04/10/2018

The ministry of Agriculture, Foods, and Forestry, signed a memorandum of understanding this morning with Biosecurity New Zealand, for the quarantine certification of foods that passengers from Tonga take to New Zealand.

The Hon. Minister for MAFFF – Semisi Fakahau signed on behalf of the ministry while the Head of Biosecurity NZ – Roger Smith signed for New Zealand.

The MOU is for the quarantine certification of the foods, particularly the ‘umu and fish which is common for Tongan passengers to take to New Zealand.

The CEO of MAFFF – Dr. Viliami Manu says this is a significant step for the ministry as this shows the trust from Biosecurity New Zealand in the certification process carried out by the quarantine officers in Tonga.

Roger Smith said Tonga posed a low biosecurity risk to NZ so they were confident in the success of this new initiative. This move would not only be beneficial for Tongan passengers, by bypassing long queues in quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand, but Smith says his staff would then be able to focus on other areas that pose a higher biosecurity risk.

 

“So the agreement today allows for us, at the Tongan end, at the ministry here, for the MAFFF ministry to check food before it goes to NZ and certify it as biosecurity safe. And then at the NZ end, my team will accept that certification. So what it means is that when you arrive in NZ and if your ‘umu packs been certified here, then it shouldn’t need to be checked in NZ. And anybody who arrives in Auckland airport carrying a lot of ‘umu packs knows that sometimes the process is quite slow, and this should speed up the process but also improve NZ’s biosecurity controls.What we’re trying to do is ensure from my staff’s resources, they are placed where the highest risk is, and so as we identify where the risk from biosecurity is, we’ve identified that travelers from the Kingdom of Tonga, pose a low risk. They are very compliant. So we’ve done all our auditing and surveying so now that we can prove that, through our statistical sampling so we have facts, then we can say, let’s look after Tonga differently. And so this signing today is in recognition that Tongan travelers are compliant and you have good systems in place here for the passengers and so because of that, you get recognition and easier access. “

With the MOU signed this morning, this initiative is expected to come into effect in November this year.

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