New Zealand Army Brigadier Jim Bliss took on a new challenge today, as the new head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).
He takes over from Air Commodore Darryn Webb, who has come to the end of his eventful secondment to the All-of-Government COVID-19 response.
Brigadier Bliss said his priority would be to ensure the continued safety of the people coming into New Zealand and our wider community.
“MIQ is a cornerstone of what’s keeping New Zealanders healthy and safe,” he said.
“So far more than 80,000 people have passed through MIQ and returned to their friends and loved-ones – that’s a great success story.”
He plans to engage with frontline staff, hear their views, and see what ideas they have for making the system even better.
“Those staff have done a fantastic job, essentially operating the MIQ system while the system was still being built around them. They are our frontline defence against COVID-19. Every day they put themselves between us and the virus, to keep returning New Zealanders and our communities safe.
Brigadier Bliss has been serving as Land Component Commander at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. Many of his roles during his 30-year Army career have been in operations planning or in leadership.
Air Commodore Webb said the job was all about the people involved, from the MIQ team to the returnees themselves.
"It's all about working together - it's the classic New Zealand story isn't it, working with others to achieve a common aim. One of the best parts of the job is an absolute sense of purpose, no one is wondering why they get out of bed each morning."
Deputy Chief Executive of MIQ Megan Main said the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system was very much a team effort.
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has overall accountability for delivery of MIQ and greatly values and relies on the contribution of NZ Defence, Police, district health boards, aviation security and hotel staff, along with the MBIE MIQ leadership and team,” she said.
“We thank Air Commodore Darryn Webb for his tremendous leadership and the hard work that he has provided to New Zealand since he took over in June. This is an incredibly tough role and he has always led with great calmness, composure and good humour.
“We welcome Brigadier Bliss, who will begin his leadership role within the MBIE team.”
Operation Protect is one of the largest NZDF deployments in decades, with up to 1200 personnel at a time across the three Services committed to supporting the All-of-Government response to COVID-19 and keeping communities safe.