Take action Demand a Commissioner for Animals
Take Action

Demand a Commissioner for Animals

SAFE is gearing up to put the rights of animals on the political agenda. To do this, we need you to champion our call for a Commissioner for Animals.
By joining the movement, you will be part of a team of caring people uniting to create systemic change for animals. So watch this space, in 2022 we will be calling on you to support us in making this happen. We know this is an ambitious ask. A Commissioner for Animals would make New Zealand world leading, but if anyone can do it, New Zealand can.
Help us challenge a system that has been broken for far too long. Together we will make history for animals.

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Animals used for live export need a voice

While the gentle cows who lived at Cornwall Park were saved from live export by caring people, not all animals used for live export will be so lucky. In April 2021, the Government finally listened to the collective voice of kiwis and announced a ban on live export by sea. Sadly, the ban won’t be effective until April 2023, and live export by air will still be permitted. This is not enough – millions of animals will continue to suffer. On board live export ships and planes, animals must endure severe overcrowding, heat stress, and turbulent movement. Countless animals are exposed to diseases, injuries and deaths that were otherwise avoidable. Once animals leave our shores, they are vulnerable to unknown horrors in countries with no animal welfare standards.

If animals used in live export had a voice, they would put an end to their prolonged suffering. An independent Commissioner for Animals could take more decisive action for animals and finally implement an immediate and complete ban on live export.

Why we need a Commissioner for Animals

People in New Zealand love animals. We have high standards when it comes to how animals are treated and expect New Zealand’s legislation to protect them from harm.

Sadly, a broken system in New Zealand is failing animals and it’s in need of urgent repair. Our once revolutionary Animal Welfare Act 1999 is being undermined by codes of welfare that allow practices which, according to the Act, should be illegal. The Government agency responsible for promoting animal agriculture is also charged with regulating animal welfare on the very farms it supports. The Ministers responsible for overseeing both animal agriculture and animal welfare have refused to phase out New Zealand’s outdated farming practices ‒ practices that are being made illegal around the world. The welfare of animals is secondary to profit because those responsible for protecting them have conflicting interests.

Animals in New Zealand need a voice. They need an independent Commissioner for Animals to ensure their rights are protected under the law.

Our system is broken

New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act 1999 (AWA) is being undermined by codes of welfare developed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC). These codes contain loopholes that allow the mistreatment of animals to continue despite being illegal under the Act. This only serves to benefit the industries profiting from the animals in question. As a result, millions of animals in New Zealand are being exploited and harmed, while NAWAC and those working under the codes see no legal repercussions.

Our system is broken – but it can be fixed. We need an independent Commissioner for Animals to undertake an extensive review of the current system and to ensure the Animal Welfare Act 1999 is upheld. Let’s finally give Aotearoa’s animals a voice.

Animals are being failed by MPI

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for regulating the welfare of animals on farms in New Zealand. However, its main function is to identify export opportunities whilst improving agricultural productivity. This is a fundamental conflict of interest.

Under the current system, the needs of animals on farms will always be secondary to economic benefits. MPI consistently demonstrates that animal welfare is not their priority. With over 160 million animals on farms across the country, MPI has allocated less than 30 animal welfare inspectors to oversee them all. Time and time again, charities like SAFE have publicly held MPI to account for failing to properly investigate welfare complaints and appropriately prosecute those who have committed serious animal welfare offences.

MPI’s refusal to allocate more resources towards overseeing the welfare of animals on farms and their poor enforcement of the law clearly demonstrates the Ministry is incapable of performing its crucial animal welfare duties.

Animals need change

Animals on New Zealand farms are being represented by Ministers who hold two portfolios with conflicting interests. Under the current system, the ministerial role with responsibility for farmed animal welfare is shared by the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor and the Associate Minister of Agriculture, Hon Meka Whaitiri. The welfare of animals on farms cannot be adequately represented by Ministers whose primary interests and key objectives lie with promoting animal agriculture and increasing animal export and trades. Their focus is on increasing animal agricultural productivity at the cost of the welfare of the animals concerned.

This flawed system was highlighted in 2020, when SAFE and the New Zealand Animal Law Association (NZALA) held the Government to account in court for allowing the confinement of pigs in farrowing crates and mating stalls. The High Court ruled that the animal welfare standards implemented by Agriculture Minister Hon Damien O’Connor in 2018 were illegal and invalid as they breached earlier law changes designed to phase out the cruel practices.

The welfare of animals on farms will continue to be compromised so long as the Ministers of Agriculture are also the Ministers of Animal Welfare.


No protection for animals used for entertainment

Every year in Aotearoa, calves, bulls and horses are tormented at rodeo events, while dogs and horses are pushed to their limits on racetracks. Despite hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths at these events each year, the Government continues to allow these industries to self-regulate animal welfare with no external oversight.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 is designed to protect animals from unnecessary pain and distress, however animals used for entertainment are not afforded this.

It is unacceptable for the industries profiting from the clear mistreatment of animals to oversee their own animal welfare regulations. We need a Commissioner for Animals to undertake an extensive review to identify the flaws within the current system and to ensure the Animal Welfare Act 1999 is upheld.

No more talk – we need action!

In 2015, the New Zealand Animal Welfare Act 1999 was amended to recognise that animals are sentient. Much like humans, animals have the capacity to experience a range of positive and negative emotional states from pain, fear and distress, to joy, curiosity and comfort. So far, New Zealand’s recognition of sentience has been nothing more than a symbolic gesture.
Rodeos, racecourses, colony cages and farrowing crates are places no sentient being should ever experience. We know animals deserve better, which is why it is crucial for Parliament to appoint a Commissioner for Animals who will ensure animals are protected under the law.

Aotearoa needs an independent Commissioner for Animals

We have Government bodies to represent the voices of children, the environment and the climate – it’s time to protect the rights of New Zealand’s animals.

We need a Parliamentary Commissioner for Animals to undertake an independant extensive review of the current system, to ensure the Animal Welfare Act 1999 is upheld and finally give Aotearoa’s animals a voice.


Take action today with a gift for animals

You can help give all animals a voice this Christmas by supporting SAFE's call for a Commissioner for Animals. Your gift today means together we can keep the pressure on those failing to uphold the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and put the welfare of animals first.
Together we can make sure 2022 is a year of change for all animals in Aotearoa.

Give a meaningful gift to the animal lovers in your life this Christmas.

By giving a gift to SAFE in the name of your loved ones, you will be giving a voice to the animals they love most.

Maui dolphins need a voice

Māui dolphins are the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world, found only in the shallow coastal waters of New Zealand’s North Island. They are incredibly intelligent and spirited creatures, known to play, jump and blow bubbles in groups. With less than 50 individuals left, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has urged the New Zealand Government to implement measures that protect Māui dolphins, such as limiting coastal fishing activities.

Contrary to expert advice, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) recently increased the quota for gillnet and trawl fisheries in Māui dolphin habitat. MPI knowingly disregarded scientific evidence, putting Māui dolphins at dire risk of plunging into extinction.
If Māui dolphins had a voice in Parliament, they would demand protection in their natural habitat. We urgently need an independent Commissioner for Animals who will comply with scientific advice and safeguard this critically endangered species.

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Eat with kindness

Get ready to be inspired by how enjoyable, easy and delicious it can be to live in a way that is kinder to our planet and all who live on it.

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Help us continue helping animals in need

As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.