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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The conditions governing the entry of animals, parts of animals, or materials capable of carrying animal diseases into New Zealand are set out in various sources such as the Stock Act of 1908 and regulations, New Zealand Gazette notices, the Customs Act of 1913 and Customs Import Prohibition Orders, and the Stock Remedies (Biological Products) Regulations. New Zealand occupies a unique position as being the only important primary producing country which remains free from the most serious epizootic diseases. This situation confers marked economic advantages, but it also entails great risks for the stock population because of its marked susceptibility to any introduced exotic disease.

The spread of several highly fatal animal diseases from relatively small areas into previously unaffected regions began during, and after, the Second World War. In spite of energetic efforts at eradication or control, the continued presence of major epizootic diseases in many countries is a matter of grave concern to New Zealand. The ever increasing speed and volume of trade and traffic between countries and continents provide many new opportunities for the spread of diseases and their vectors, and modern transport has ended the era when distance alone provided a defence against exotic disease. Countries with adequate and skilled technical services have been affected as well as those areas where the breakdown of established authority has lowered or removed what formerly were effective quarantine barriers. To preserve this continued freedom from animal disease, the present quarantine restrictions of New Zealand are of necessity severe, and are kept under constant review as the risk increases. Before any animals may be imported, permission must first be obtained from the Department of Agriculture, and the specific conditions under which the importation is allowed are detailed in the regulations under the Stock Act.

The International Office of Epizootics maintains a reporting service on the world situation with regard to epizootics by means of a monthly circular to member countries. This provides a valuable source of information on which quarantine conditions can be kept under review. This information has been supplemented over the last decade by the Animal Health Branch of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations, which disseminates current information on outbreaks of communicable disease. At regular and emergency meetings of member countries held under the auspices of these organisations, information is exchanged and disease control or eradication campaigns are planned on a national, regional, or world basis.

The current position with regard to the importation of live animals is summarised in the following table:

Type of Animal Countries From Which Imporatation is Allowed Quarantine Period
Cattle United Kingdom, Eire, and Tasmania. 30 days.
Horses United Kingdom, Eire, part of N.S.W., Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and part of Western Australia. None.
Sheep Part of N.S.W., Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and part of Western Australia. None.
Goats (As for sheep). None.
Pigs United Kingdom, Eire. 30 days.
United Kingdom, Eire. part of N.S.W., Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and part of Western Australia. None.
Domestic poultry Australia (day-old chicks, turkeys, ducklings; no adult birds) None.
Aviary birds Australia. None, but 30 days' segregation on owner's premises.

All imported animals must have detailed certificates of health, signed or certified by a veterinary surgeon in the employment of the government of the country of origin and certifying negative results to various biological tests. The tests, treatments, and certificates vary according to the species of animal being imported. Troupes of performing animals are allowed entry from Australia only under specific certification and are kept under supervision while they are in New Zealand.

Applications for the importation of animals for zoological gardens are treated on their merits, in the light of the disease risk involved, and special conditions are laid down.

The importation of semen for artificial insemination is in general limited to areas from which live animals are permitted, and has up to the present been confined to deep-frozen bull semen, which is placed in quarantine for 30 days and released on receipt of information that no disease has occurred in the A.I. centre of origin during that time. The health certification required for donor animals is similar to the certification necessary where the animal itself is imported.

The importation of meat and meat products is prohibited with the exception of cooked sterilised meats hermetically sealed in tins or other containers. Poultry meat is allowed entry from Australia, and trade samples of uncooked meats are permitted subject to examination and subsequent destruction under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture. Cultures or preparations of organisms capable of causing disease, whether alive or killed, require a permit prior to importation. Biological products made from animal glands or tissues, or any micro-organism used or intended to be used in the treatment of stock or in the diagnosis or detection of diseases in stock, may be introduced into New Zealand only with prior written permission. Hides, skins, furs, wool, hair, feathers, bristles, sausage casings, eggs, and any other part of an animal, whether classed as stock or otherwise, are prohibited from entry except under a prior permit. Particular care is taken to prevent the entry of ship and aircraft garbage which, by regulation, must be disposed of by incineration or dumping at sea and, as an additional safeguard, garbage of animal origin produced within New Zealand must be boiled before it is fed to swine or poultry.

by David William Caldwell, M.R.C.V.S., formerly Chief Advisory Officer (Animal Health), Department of Agriculture.


David William Caldwell, M.R.C.V.S., formerly Chief Advisory Officer (Animal Health), Department of Agriculture.