It was with deep sadness that The NZBI Executive announced the extremely sad passing of our Immediate Past President Pedro Jensen in the early hours of Tuesday March 1st.
Pedro was a very important member of the NZBI as well as the greater biosecurity community and had worked with many in his career. His enthusiasm and passion for the environment were outstanding. Pedro was the NZBI member who spearheaded the Biosecurity Month initiative and an increase in the Institute's profile in the media.
Pedro was President of The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute from 2011-2012 having served as Vice- president since 2009.
A notable point in his presidency was his signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the National Pest Control Agencies in August 2011, following the desire of the NZBI and the NPCA to align the networking and training events of both organisations.
As President, Pedro welcomed delegates to the first combined conference the following year at NETS2012 in Wairakei.
One of Pedro's major contributions to NZBI life was the Biosecurity Month initiative begun in 2010 that aimed to coordinate biosecurity media from across the country during NETS month.
This initiative was very successful in generating a buzz through television, radio and print.
Pedro also presided when the NZBI Executive voted to create and fund the formal role of Archives Co-ordinator, a major step in preserving the history of The NZBI and its predecessor organisations.
Growing up across the road and running around Otari Native Plant Museum in Wellington instilled in Pedro an early appreciation for the beauty of New Zealand's native forests. Biology was his favourite subject at college which led him to study ecology at Victoria University. Upon completing his BSc in Ecology he volunteered at Zealandia, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, to gain work experience. In 2003, after completing two fixed-term contracts and a summer internship with Greater Wellington Regional Council's Pest Plant team, Pedro joined full-time where he remained until 2012.
Colleagues report that with his corn braids and baggy trousers Pedro didn't fit the traditional mould of a Biosecurity Officer, however the interview panel had seen the keenness, brightness and fun in him that those that knew him well came to enjoy and admire.
"I have been "doing what I love and loving what I do ever since" Pedro said of his work.
Pedro said what he most liked was the people he met and the places he got to go. He said coming home at the end of the working day knowing that he had made a positive contribution to New Zealand's natural heritage was his motivation.
Pedro was most recently the Contract Manager for the Wellington branch of the ecological, restoration and biosecurity organisation Kaitiaki o Ngahere.
It was as a Weedbusters co-ordinator that he was really in his element. He was brilliant with children and they seemed to hang off him and feed off his enthusiasm. He was known by many as "The Rapping Weedbuster". He gained respect for his work with community groups and for his championing of elegant solutions to bio-data systems while working on a joint Greater Wellington-Environment Bay of Plenty project.
His colleagues report that he was definitely his own person. "No one else wore the hair and baggies". He showed that biosecurity is full spectrum and it takes all sorts to deliver a message. Pedro was genuine and once he committed he didn't deviate.
Colleagues say that Pedro was a conservationist who believed in the intrinsic value of the natural world and in the value of its preservation for this generation and those that follow. His enthusiasm for the lower North Island's natural areas came from a lifetime of local knowledge and his passion for restoration has been of great benefit to those areas.