Animal welfare in New Zealand

Hereford cattle grazing in the Macaulay River valley in South Canterbury. Most cattle remain outdoors for most of the year but wintering barns are sometimes used for dairy cows.

Animal welfare in New Zealand is governed by the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and a number of organisations actively advocate for both animal welfare and animal rights. Pest control and farming practices have been scrutinised with respect to animal welfare issues.

Animal welfare issues

The New Zealand economy relies heavily on agriculture and many animal welfare issues involve the farming sector.

There were animal welfare concerns on the controversial CraFarms and in June 2011 five people involved with Crafers Taharua Dairy Farm pleaded not guilty to 714 charges of alleged animal welfare offences.[1]

In 2013 a farmer was convicted of animal welfare offences after breaking or injuring the tails of 230 cows and he was banned from owning cows. The case was the worst of its type that had been seen by the authorities.[2]

A resource consent application under the Resource Management Act 1991 for the intensive farming of cattle in the Mackenzie Basin in 2009 attracted opposition because of concerns over animal welfare, even though animal welfare is not a part of the RMA. The application was "called in" under provisions of the RMA.

The usage of 1080 in New Zealand (a pest control and animal health measure) attracts some opposition on animal welfare grounds but a 2007 assessment of 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) concluded that the benefits outweighed the risks.[3]

In 2010 Landcare Research New Zealand Limited prepared a paper for MAF Biosecurity New Zealand called “How humane are our pest control tools?. Various vertebrate toxic agents such as 1080, Brodifacoum, Cholecalciferol and so on, kill traps in mammal species, in-burrow rabbit control methods and leg hold traps, rotenone, alphachloralose and DRC-1339 looked at the ‘animal welfare impact’ (humanness) of these control tools. The paper describes in detail how various toxins affect different animals. Information on level of consciousness at various times/events after dosing are still needed to fully assess its negative experiences and humanness.

Animal research

Animal research is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and organisations using animals must follow an approved code of ethical conduct.[4] This sets out the policies and procedures that need to be adopted and followed by the organisation and its animal ethics committee (AEC).[5] Every project must be approved and monitored by an AEC which includes lay members.

Wildlife smuggling

New Zealand has a number of rare and endangered species and there have been cases of wildlife smuggling.

The Wildlife Enforcement Group, a group of three government departments, collectively investigate smuggling to and from New Zealand. The three agencies are the New Zealand Customs Service, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Conservation.[6]

New Zealand is a signatory to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which was set up to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES is administered by the Department of Conservation.


A number of organisations in New Zealand actively pursue animal welfare issues.

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA or more commonly, SPCA), the longest established animal welfare organisation in New Zealand, was formed in Dunedin in 1882 and was inspired by the English Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation) is an animal rights advocacy group that has run a number of high-profile campaigns. SAFE ran a campaign against intensive pig farming featuring the comedian Mike King who had previously fronted an advertising campaign that promoted the sale of pork.

The international animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection has a branch in New Zealand.[7]

See also


  1. Watson, Mike (30 June 2011). "Not guilty pleas to dairy charges". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  2. Bayer, Kurt (20 February 2013). "Farmer banned from owning cows". The New Zealand Herald. APN. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  3. New Zealand (2007). The reassessment of 1080 : an informal guide to the August 2007 decision of the Environmental Risk Management Authority. Wellington N.Z.: Environmental Risk Management Authority. ISBN 9780478215380.
  4. Ministry for Primary Industries. "Guide to the Preparation of Codes of Ethical Conduct". Ministry for Primary Industries. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  5. Ministry for Primary Industries. "Animals in Research". Ministry for Primary Industries. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  6. Multi-agency effort to catch wildlife criminals
  7. World Animal Protection Canada, World Animal Protection. Accessed 25 June 2014.

Further reading

External links

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