Kōrero: Animal welfare and rights

Whārangi 4. New organisations and coalitions

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

At the turn of the 21st century many animal rights and welfare issues had been around for a long time. As well as continuing the fight against experiments on animals and factory farming, activists opposed the hunting of wild animals and cruelty in sports and entertainments such as rodeos, circuses and zoos. While they maintained distinct philosophical positions, different organisations cooperated on some issues: for example, the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supported the anti-factory farming and anti-vivisection campaigns of Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE). The Companion Animal Council, established in 1996, became a forum for a range of welfare and rights groups.

‘All I remember … was the screaming’1

For seven years comedian Mike King fronted advertisements funded by the New Zealand pork industry to encourage Kiwis to eat more bacon, pork and ham. Then, after being told by SAFE of intensive pig farming practices, he arranged to visit a North Island piggery with members of Open Rescue in 2009. Horrified by what he saw, he joined the campaign to ban factory farming. Footage of his experience caused a sensation when it aired on national television.

Some animal rights and welfare groups lasted for just a short time, but a number of new organisations that emerged were still in existence in 2010s.


Farmwatch emerged in the early 21st century. It has focused on issues relating to the killing of bobby calves, factory farming of chickens and pigs, the conditions of dogs used in Greyhound racing and the treatment of animals in rodeos. Farmwatch is critical of animal farming. It combines attention to issues relating to the use and abuse of animals and advocacy of a vegetarian and vegan life style.

New Zealand Animal Law Association

New Zealand lawyers formed an association directed at improving animal welfare and rights through the legal system. They make submissions relating to changes in the law that will improve animal rights and include over 200 lawyers working in different practice areas.

Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand

The Greyhound Protection League was set up to draw public attention to the large numbers of greyhounds seriously injured or euthanised as a consequence of greyhound racing, and to protest against the use of the animals as commodities in a gambling industry. Its ultimate goal is the banning of greyhound racing, but interim aims are to keep a close watch on the industry and expose abuses within it, and to lobby politicians.

Chained Dog Awareness New Zealand

The Chained Dog Awareness Trust was established in 2007 to publicise the problem of owners keeping dogs chained permanently without adequate food, water, exercise or veterinary care. As well as rescuing and re-homing such dogs, it sought a total ban on dog chaining.

Christchurch Bull Breed Rescue

Bull breed dogs – Staffys, Pitbulls, Bullys and cross breeds of these dogs have been identified as over-represented among unwanted dogs in Christchurch. This organisation was established to protect and find homes for these breed of dogs. It considers that these animals can be good pets if they have the right owner, love and care. Dogs are de-sexed, fostered and re-homed. Advice is also offered relating to lost and found dogs.

Paw Justice

Paw Justice was established in 2009 to campaign for tougher penalties for cruelty offences against companion animals, and its nationwide petition led to the 2010 Animal Welfare Amendment Act. Other causes included establishing a pet-food bank for needy animals, giving financial aid to owners unable to afford emergency veterinary bills, a children’s education programme and a justice fund.

First Strike New Zealand

First Strike was established in the early 21st century and focuses on the links between social and domestic violence and animal abuse.  They contributed to the development of a memorandum of understanding between NZ Police, women's refuges, and SPCAs that highlighted the need for pets to be taken into account when assessing and intervening in domestic violence situations.


Sanctuaries for unwanted and rescued pets, farm and circus animals were set up. They often care for animals untilo they can be fostered or adpoted. These sanctuaries included:

  • the Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary (established by the Animal Protection Society in 2009 at Ōtaki Forks, north of Wellington)
  • HUHA (Helping You Help Animals) Animal Sanctuary (established near Wellington in 2001)

In addition volunteers fed and managed a growing number of colonies of stray cats throughout New Zealand.

New Zealand Human-Animal Studies

Research and publishing on the relationships between humans and animals developed in New Zealand in the 2000s. The New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS) was established at the University of Canterbury in 2007 by Dr. Annie Potts and Dr. Philip Armstrong.

Human-Animal Studies (HAS) draws on a wide range of disciplines and explores new ways of thinking about animals and human-animal relationships. It also advocates for the interests and agency of animals.

International organisations

Many New Zealand welfare or rights groups had links with international organisations, but some were branches of worldwide groups. They included:

  • Sea Shepherd New Zealand, which aimed to protect ocean wildlife and ecosystems
  • The Great Ape Project
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals, which campaigned for animal welfare around the globe
  • ZooCheck, which lobbied to prevent the suffering of animals in captivity.
Kupu tāpiri
  1. ‘Comedian does U-turn on pork,’ http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2418545/Comedian-does-U-turn-on-pork (last accessed 18 July 2017). Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Animal welfare and rights - New organisations and coalitions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/animal-welfare-and-rights/page-4 (accessed 19 August 2022)

He kōrero nā Nancy Swarbrick, i tāngia i te 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 1 Jul 2017