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Wednesday, June 16

Minister launches SmartGate in Wellington

Trans-Tasman travel continues to become faster and easier as SmartGate today begins operating at its second New Zealand airport, Customs Minister Maurice Williamson says.

Mr Williamson today officially launched SmartGate for trans-Tasman passengers arriving at Wellington International Airport and used his passport to become the first person through the new automated passenger clearance system.

SmartGate is a kiosk and gate system that uses face recognition biometric technology and the information stored in a microchip inside ePassports to perform the identity check that is usually conducted by a Customs officer.

The system was officially opened in December last year by Prime Minister John Key for passengers arriving at Auckland International Airport and it is expected to begin operating at Christchurch Airport for arrivals later this year.

"The system has proved incredibly popular at Auckland Airport with around 50 per cent of eligible New Zealand passport holders now using the system each week and more than 190,000 people have been processed through it since it was launched," Mr Williamson says.

"SmartGate is an exciting and innovative technology which is central to improving the way New Zealand facilitates trans-Tasman trade, travel, and tourism."

Customs will be able to focus important resources on higher-risk passengers and operate more efficiently as SmartGate is progressively introduced.

Mr Williamson says SmartGate is part of a wider government work programme to streamline travel between New Zealand and Australia.