About new organisms

Our economy relies on organisms that are not native to New Zealand. We need to assess and manage the risks of introducing new organisms into New Zealand.

We manage risks to the environment, the health and safety of people, Māori culture and traditions, and the market economy from organisms that are new to New Zealand. We do this without limiting New Zealand’s future potential for innovation.

Organisms include microorganisms (including bacteria and viruses), cell lines, human cells (but not human beings), sperm, oocytes (cells from which an egg or ovum develops), embryos, seeds, plants, fish, and animals.

New organisms in New Zealand

In New Zealand, a new organism is defined as:

  • An organism that was not present in New Zealand immediately before 29 July 1998.
  • An organism with approval to be in containment.
  • An organism with approval to be released with controls.
  • A genetically modified organism.
  • An organism that was deliberately eradicated from New Zealand (as the result a specified eradication programme, with a stated goal or purpose of eliminating the organism from New Zealand).
  • An organism that was present in New Zealand before 29 July 1998 in contravention of the Animals Act 1967 or the Plants Act 1970 (except for the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (rabbit calicivirus)).
  • A risk species, which is defined as a population of a species present in New Zealand that may only represent a small subset of its full genetic potential. Some of that potential could be harmful to New Zealand. In such cases, the species can be regulated as a ‘risk species’. This means that the species—with the exception of the population already present in New Zealand—becomes a new organism.

If you have an organism that is new, you need approval from us to import, develop, field test or release your organism in New Zealand. Approval cannot be given to prohibited organisms.

Find out how to apply for new organism approval

If you have any questions you can call the New Organisms team on 04 474 5591 or email us at neworganisms@epa.govt.nz

Databases of organisms present in New Zealand Plus

​There are a number of databases that can help you to determine if your organism was present in New Zealand before 29 July 1998. Any organism that is officially recorded as being present in the New Zealand environment before this date is not a new organism.

There is no single list of all the species that are present in New Zealand. If your organism does not appear in one of the following databases or lists, or you have reason to believe it is not a new organism, you can apply for a formal determination of its status.

The HSNO Application Register

The HSNO Application Register records every application made to us. If an organism has been determined to not be a new organism or it has been approved for release without conditions, it can be imported into New Zealand without further approval from us.

Search the HSNO Application Register

View our list of microbes, animals and plants we have determined to be present through statutory and non-statutory advice (last update June 2019).

List of microbes present in New Zealand (pdf 351KB)

List of animals present in New Zealand (pdf 166KB) 

List of plants present in New Zealand (pdf 713KB)

Plants

The Plants Biosecurity Index (PBI) contains a list of plant species that are legally allowed to be imported into New Zealand, subject to the relevant Import Health Standard (IHS) under the Biosecurity Act. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) oversees this list, and undertakes an assessment of biosecurity risks for a plant before it is assigned to an IHS. Plant species listed on the PBI are not new organisms.

Plant Biosecurity Index (PBI) - Ministry for Primary Industries website database 

The nzflora website carries information on the naturalised and indigenous plants of New Zealand.

Flora of New Zealand website

Micro organisms

The best database for micro organisms is the Landcare fungi (and bacteria) database. This database also records organisms in other countries so you need to make sure that the organism is listed as present in New Zealand.

Landcare fungi (and bacteria) - database on the Landcare Research website

Birds

The Ornithological Society of New Zealand lists all birds known to be present in New Zealand in the New Zealand Recognised Bird Names (NZRBN) database.

New Zealand Recognised Bird Names (pdf 129KB)

Fish and Marine Invertebrates

The Ornamental Fish and Marine Invertebrate Import Health Standard lists a number of species that are not new and can be imported into New Zealand without approval from us.

Import Health Standard - Ornamental fish and marine invertebrates from all countries (pdf 752KB)

All Import Health Standards - Ministry for Primary Industries website

Arthropods

The New Zealand Arthropod Collection (NZAC) has the most complete coverage of terrestrial invertebrates in New Zealand.

New Zealand Arthropod Collection - Landcare NZ website

Biological control agents

The Biological Control Agents introduced to New Zealand (BCANZ) database contains information on the biological control agents that have been introduced to New Zealand.

BCANZ database - Better Border Biosecurity website  

Please note that certain biological control agents are still classed as new organisms and as such are still regulated under the HSNO Act.