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The Issues in Detail

One  - Ban rodeos in New Zealand. Rodeos involve cruelty, pain and death for animals, and teach children it is acceptable to exploit animals for human entertainment.

Footage filmed at rodeos in recent years has shown the rope burning of animals; the use of electronic prods to make bulls react; tail twisting; bells rung close to animals to frighten them; time limits being exceeded in calf roping; and animals dying in rodeos. Rodeos are inherently cruel to animals. Animals suffer pain and fear while being transported to the rodeo site, and are then subjected to cruelty during the rodeo itself. A 2018 report by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee titled Rodeo events – How do they impact the sentient animal ? concluded that all rodeo events in New Zealand raised concerns about their negative impacts on animals. Steer wrestling and calf roping raised serious concerns, with evidence of substantial negative impacts on animals. Calf riding, bull/steer riding, bronc riding and team roping raised moderate concerns, while barrel racing resulted in minor concerns. Almost 30 complaints were made to the Ministry for Primary Industries about the mistreatment of animals in rodeos between 2012 and 2017, but not a single prosecution was taken by MPI. Parents who attend rodeos with their children are teaching children bad attitudes to animals. Rodeos abuse animals for entertainment, and take the attitude that animal deaths are acceptable as long as humans enjoy the entertainment. Rodeos cannot be made safe for animals. They should be banned outright. 


Two - Abolish all factory farming in New Zealand by 1 January 2022, including farrowing crates, fattening pens and all hen cages.

New Zealand law allows millions of pigs and hens to be farmed in crates and cages, spending their entire lives confined to tiny spaces and suffering immense physical and psychological pain. Such animals have no opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour. Pictures of the conditions in which pigs and hens are kept are a stain on our international reputation and jeopardise our clean, green image. There is no need for animals to be treated in this way. New Zealand should outlaw such cruel practices. There are now moves to factory farm cows inside in New Zealand. Let’s stop this before it starts. The law provides that battery cages for hens must be phased out. However, these are being replaced by colony or “enriched” cages, which give the hens extra space only the size of a credit card, and are no better in welfare terms. It is a waste of money to require the egg industry to spend millions of dollars on building cages which are just as cruel to hens. Instead, there should be an immediate move to all hens being free range. Sow stalls for pigs were banned from December 2015, but farrowing crates and fattening pens are still permitted. They should be banned as well. 

Three – Ban the Forced Swim Test immediately and work towards New Zealand becoming the first country in the world to ban all testing on animals by 1 January 2022.

Testing on animals results in suffering and death for many of the animals used. In July 2018, statistics were released showing 254,453 animals were used in research, testing and teaching in New Zealand in 2016, up 13 per cent from the 2015 figure. Animals used included dogs, cats, sheep, fish, deer and cattle. Two cheetahs were used in scientific research in New Zealand in 2015. The Forced Swim Test involves making animals such as rats and mice swim constantly in a beaker of water until they are exhausted and cannot move any longer. They cannot escape from the container and must keep moving to avoid drowning. The test is supposed to provide information about depression or hopelessness which can be applied to human conditions, but does not achieve this aim. Animals accordingly suffer grossly for no benefit to humans. In fact, animal testing often produces results which are of little relevance when applied to humans. Stanford University researchers found that medical studies using animals to test therapies for human brain disorders were frequently biased, initially claiming positive results and then failing in human trials. The researchers examined 160 meta-analyses of 1411 animal studies on potential treatments for multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injury. Only eight showed evidence of strong statistically-significant associations using evidence from more than 500 animals. Only two studies produced convincing data in randomised, controlled studies in humans. Another study published in the United States showed that artificially inducing a model of a disease in a mouse and then curing it did not provide an effective cure for a naturally-occurring disease in a human. The study was carried out after researchers wondered why 150 cures for the often-fatal disease sepsis developed and tested on mice all failed in humans. Millions of animals around the world are accordingly enduing agony followed by death for tests which produce no medically-useful results. There are ample alternatives to animal testing, including scanning technologies, in vitro cell culture, in silico computer simulation, use of human skin for irritancy tests, use of donated human blood for pyrogenicity studies, epidemiology, organs-on-chips and microdosing. The then-Government decided in 2014 that party pills should not be tested on animals. Now the Government should work towards banning all testing on animals as soon as possible. This country should aim to be the first nation in the world to do this and to set a standard for others to follow. This would complement our clean, green image and be a good marketing tool for New Zealand. Animal testing is cruel to animals and dangerous to humans. 


Four – Make it mandatory for cameras to be installed in slaughterhouses and on the commercial fishing fleet and provide funding for monitoring the cameras.

Hidden camera footage filmed by animal advocates over the past five years and broadcast on television has revealed the horrendous cruelty of the treatment of many farm animals in New Zealand. Pictures of the way in which calves were assaulted and ill-treated shocked the nation. France and Israel have made cameras in slaughterhouses mandatory. In January 2017, the French national assembly passed a bill requiring cameras in slaughterhouses from July 2018. Initially, from July 2017, cameras were installed in 263 slaughterhouses, in all areas in which there were animals. Israel has also made slaughterhouse cameras compulsory. By the end of 2016, 400 cameras and 50 digital recorders were installed in Israel’s 50 slaughterhouses. They are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week and feed a live video stream to supervisors within each facility, as well as to Agriculture Ministry veterinary inspectors in an off-site ministry control centre. Every room in which there are animals must have a camera. The move followed the release of undercover footage of cows being shocked with electric prods when they could not walk; prodding downed cows with forklifts to force them to walk; striking, kicking and stomping chickens to death; slicing open days-old calves while they were conscious; and beating and striking pigs with heavy cans and boards. On fishing boats in New Zealand, current compliance and monitoring observer levels cover fewer than 20 per cent of boats in the commercial fishing fleet. Yet, when cameras or physical observers are present, reported by-catch incidents increase markedly. Electronic monitoring addresses industry concerns that they cannot accommodate additional observer staff on board small boats and is an efficient, cost-effective way of measuring by-catch and therefore properly assessing fishing threats to non-target marine species.

Five - Ban greyhound racing

Hidden camera footage released in Australia and New Zealand in recent years has revealed the extent of the cruelty of greyhound racing. The dogs forced to participate in greyhound racing live short, stunted lives and are discarded when they are no longer considered useful. Animals are independent living beings. Their purpose is not to serve human entertainment. Greyhound racing should be banned.

Six - Develop sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty cases, educate the judiciary about the links between animal cruelty and other forms of violence, and treat cruelty to animals as an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Act 2002.

The Animal Welfare Act has been in force for 20 years but very few people have ever been sent to jail for animal cruelty, despite many serious cases of abuse and neglect. Judges continue to describe animal cruelty cases as shocking and alarming, but nevertheless impose lenient sentences. Parliament changed the law to increase the penalties for animal cruelty, with the maximum jail sentence now being five years. Despite that, the longest jail term ever imposed is just over two years. Sentencing guidelines need to be developed for animal cruelty cases and cruelty to animals should be written into the Sentencing Act 2002 as an aggravating factor.


Seven - Recognise the link between animal cruelty, child abuse and domestic violence as a community concern; a firm commitment by the Government to end all three forms of violence; include animals as “protected persons” under the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

The link between cruelty to animals and child abuse and domestic violence is now well-established in research both overseas and in New Zealand. The “Pets as Pawns” study showed the link in this country between domestic violence and animal cruelty. Animal cruelty should be treated seriously in its own right but should also be recognised as a warning sign of domestic violence. Education about this link should be provided to judges so that they can impose appropriate sentences in animal cruelty cases.


Eight  - Provide adequate shelter for farmed animals, taking account of New Zealand’s weather extremes and develop and enforce high standards for transporting animals to ensure that animal trauma is reduced. 

New Zealand has a major problem with lack of adequate shelter being provided to farmed animals. In summer, many animals are left in paddocks with no shade and little water, while in winter there is frequently no shelter from wind, rain, hail and snow. In the past decade, there have been a number of major spring snowstorms in which tens or hundreds of thousands of new-born lambs have died. Lambs could be protected by lambing later, planting shelter belts, using wool or plastic lamb coats or giving glucose injections, but these steps are seldom taken. Transportation is extremely traumatic for animals. Steps need to be taken to ensure that this trauma is kept to a minimum and the pain and suffering of animals being transported are reduced.


Nine - Appoint an independent Commissioner for Animals as an advocate for the welfare of all animals, including farm, companion and wild animals, and have a Minister for Animals sitting at the Cabinet table.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is responsible for animal welfare in New Zealand but this role conflicts with its primary purpose of promoting economic growth. A new position of Commissioner for Animal Welfare should be created so that one agency focuses solely on animal welfare. The office should be properly funded so that it can monitor animal welfare around New Zealand and intervene quickly in cases of cruelty and neglect. New Zealand’s small number of animal welfare inspectors is completely inadequate to provide proper welfare responses to New Zealand’s 150 million farmed animals. The Commissioner for Animal Welfare should maintain a publicly-searchable database of prosecutions and convictions under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 so that farmers considering employing staff on farms can check whether prospective employees have been convicted of animal welfare offences. Fonterra should regularly check this database to ensure that farmers supplying milk to it are complying properly with animal welfare requirements. There should also be a Minister for Animals within Cabinet. The current Government for the first time appointed an Associate Minister with responsibility for animal welfare, but has left the role vacant since the previous Associate Minister, Meka Whaitiri, lost her position.

Ten - Ban the surgical mutilation of animals, including de-barking, de-beaking and de-clawing.

New laws which took effect in 2018 banned dog and cattle tail docking, but other surgical mutilations are still allowed to continue. These procedures are painful and unnecessary and should be prohibited. 


Eleven - Prohibit the sale, possession or use of devices that inflict pain and suffering on animals, including electric shock collars, gin traps and other leg-hold devices, and electronic prodders. Prohibit the sale of fireworks to the public.

The possession, sale and use of electric shock collars for dogs should be banned in New Zealand. These devices are freely available and are sold online, with no requirement for information or training to be provided to purchasers. Dog electric shock collars cause immense physical pain to dogs and their long-term use can result in psychological problems. The importation, sale and use of gin traps and leg-hold devices should be prohibited. Serrated gin traps are already banned but are often available on the open market. All of these devices are extremely cruel and should be banned. Fireworks every year cause fear, injuries and death to animals. New Zealand should follow Australia and ban the public sale of fireworks. If fireworks are to be discharged, this should only be done in public displays.


Twelve – Pass stringent laws restricting the use of animals in entertainment, including horse racing, marine parks, animals in film and television, and circuses.

Animals are living beings and not objects to be used for human entertainment. They suffer immense pain and psychological deprivation when confined in marine parks or circuses or when used in other forms of human entertainment. The use of animals in circuses, marine parks and other forms of entertainment should be prohibited. 


Thirteen – Enshrine in the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 legal personality for animals.

Animals in many cases under New Zealand law are not treated as living beings, but simply as objects or property.  Animals have no legal rights of their own. This encourages poor treatment of animals as it means they are seen solely in terms of their value to humans, rather than being recognised as independent living creatures. Our law should recognise that animals feel pain and fear and need the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour, in addition to being supplied with basic needs such as food, water and shelter. Companionship, exercise and mental stimulation are also important to animal welfare. The Animal Welfare Act now includes a declaration recognising that animals are sentient beings. However, this cannot be enforced without legal personality for animals. At present, under our law, companies – which are inanimate and non-living – are recognised as legal persons, but animals are not.

Fourteen – Ban the live export of animals.

Live export inevitably involves suffering and deaths for animals. It is immensely cruel. New Zealand does not permit the live export of animals for slaughter.  This prohibition was introduced in 2003 after international shock about the suffering and deaths of sheep on the Australian ship the Cormo Express, while it was transporting the animals from Australia to Saudi Arabia for slaughter. Australia live-exports millions of animals every year. Over 2.5 million sheep, cattle and goats have died on Australian live export ships since 1981. New Zealand’s ban on live exports for slaughter should be written into the Animal Welfare Act as a permanent prohibition. This country still permits animals to be exported live for breeding. In 2014, New Zealand sent almost five million live animals overseas. Chickens comprised the largest number of animals, including a mix of day-old chicks and fertilised eggs. 85,732 cows were exported live in 2014. Permitting animals to be exported live for breeding acts as a loophole to circumvent the ban on live export for slaughter. In 2014, New Zealand sent 900 ewes by air to Saudi Arabia for breeding. 75 per cent of the lambs died soon after arrival. In 2015, hundreds of sheep died when 53,000 sheep were exported to Mexico. In January 2017, New Zealand shipped more than 5000 cows to China. All live exports of animals should be banned.


Fifteen – Ban the permanent chaining of dogs and the permanent tethering of goats.

Both dogs and goats are sociable animals who need companionship and regular exercise. However, many dogs and goats in New Zealand are permanently chained or tethered. This is physically painful and psychologically distressing to the animals. Animals who are permanently confined often get no proper exercise and also suffer loneliness as they are frequently confined without companionship. In the worst cases, the chain becomes embedded in the dog’s neck if the dog is never let off the chain. This is particularly the case if the dog is first chained when he or she is young, and the neck expands as the dog grows.


Sixteen – Recognise that intensive dairy and meat farming are environmentally unsustainable and promote horticulture and other more sustainable land uses.

New Zealanders are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental damage caused by intensive dairying, particularly to rivers and streams. It is unsustainable for the dairy industry to continue expanding in this country. Protecting New Zealand’s clean, green image and ensuring that tourists want to come here in future means that the country needs to diversity from dairy and meat production. Horticulture and alternative land uses are the future direction. 


Seventeen – Ban the production, import and sale of foie gras.

Foie gras is produced by workers shoving long metal tubes down duck and geese’s throats several times a day to pump large quantities of grain into their stomachs. This force-feeding causes their livers to swell to up to 10 times their normal sizes. The animals are kept in cramped, inhumane conditions before being slaughtered. The fatty, diseased organs are sold as foie gras. Brussels’ Minister for Animal Welfare described foie gras production as “truly a kind of torture imposed on ducks.” Foie gras production has been banned in the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina and more than a dozen other European countries, but is still legal in Bulgaria, France, Hungary and Spain. It has been banned in Brussels, but is not yet prohibited throughout Belgium. Several American states have acted to ban the sale or production of foie gras, but some of those initiatives have been appealed or overturned. India banned the import of foie gras in 2014. 

Eighteen – Implement full protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins throughout their ranges.

The survival of Māui and Hector’s dolphins depends on implementing protections from set and trawl nets in harbours and out to 100 metres deep in all waters where the dolphins are found. A Draft Threat Management Plan for the dolphins has been developed but the Government has dragged its heels on making decisions. The dolphins accordingly remain at risk of extinction.


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