Take action Free hens from cages this election

Free hens from cages this election

Hens deserve kindness, compassion and the freedom to live a life worth living. Hens are intelligent, curious and socially complex animals with a strong need to carry out their natural behaviour. When free to roam outdoors, a hen will spend her days scratching at the ground, searching for food, dust bathing, stretching her wings and basking in the sun.

In New Zealand, close to three million hens are kept in small wire cages to produce eggs. These intensive farming conditions prevent hens from being able to carry out their most basic behaviours, which can cause serious welfare issues.


It’s time

Speak out for hens

Your actions can make a huge difference for the millions of hens living life in cramped, unnatural conditions on intensive farms. Whether you have an evening to spare or just five minutes, sign up and speak out for hens in New Zealand.

Time for change

We are seeing incredible change for hens across New Zealand. Kiwis want to see hens freed from cages, and supermarkets across the country are committed to phasing out the sale of eggs from caged hens. We’ve also seen commitments from many foodservice groups, café outlets and restaurant chains to stop using eggs from caged hens.

Around the world, hens are being spared from a lifetime in cages by progressive politicians. Cages are now being phased out in parts of Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, the Walloon Region of Belgium and Austria. In the USA, seven states have banned the sale and production of cage eggs.

New Zealand’s leaders know Kiwis care about hens. The Labour and the Green Parties have both made commitments to ban the caging of hens, which they are yet to follow through with. If we stand together as one and demand positive change for hens from our politicians, we can create a cage-free Aotearoa.


Action 1 – Write to your MP

Tell them how important this issue is to you

Key points you can make:

  • Colony cages are essentially identical to battery cages, which are already being banned on the grounds of cruelty.
  • In a colony cage, a hen does not even have room to spread her wings.
  • Colony cages are crowded – so crowded that each hen has only 750 square centimetres of space. That’s about the size of an A4 sheet of paper.
  • Colony cages have flaps, a metal bar and a rubber mat. These are provided to help allow the hens to express their natural behaviours but these ‘enhancements’ are not nearly enough.
  • Colony cages do not allow hens to express their normal patterns of behaviour fully and should be banned as they breach the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Your Voice Counts

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    Action 2 – Visit your MP and give hens a voice

    The most powerful way to give hens a voice is to visit your MP in person.

    MPs are elected to represent your views in Parliament – a meeting is your chance to emphasise your views about colony cages and ask your MP to support meaningful change for hens.

    Guide to visiting your MP

    Find your MP using the form on this page.  

    Email your MP using the form on this page. Make sure to mention that you’re one of their constituents, and request a meeting to discuss your concerns about colony cages. Be upfront about what you want to discuss and say that you won’t be longer than 15 minutes. MPs have a duty to represent their electorate, so be bold and follow up with a phone call if you don’t hear back. Feel free to use this email template to request a meeting:

    (Dear / Tēnā koe) ________,

    My name is ________ and I live in and vote in the ________ electorate.

    I’m contacting you as my elected representative, with the hope that we can meet to discuss something that’s important to me.

    I feel very strongly about creating a kind Aotearoa, one that doesn’t rely on intensive farming and sees hens freed from cages.

    Now is the time to realise this vision – three quarters (76%) of Kiwis want to see hens freed from cages and supermarkets have committed to stop selling cage eggs. Now is the time for a phase-out of colony cages in New Zealand.

    I would very much appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you in person. Can you please indicate times you would be available in August or early September?

    Thank you in advance.

    (Kind regards/ Ngā mihi nui),


    Familiarise yourself with colony cages and why it’s time for them to go – a good place to start is to read this take action page and find out more about hens in New ZealandDon’t worry, you don’t need to know everything! The most important thing is that you show your MP that you care about animals and ask them to support a phase out of colony cages. If your MP asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, you can follow up with an email after the meeting. Get in touch if you want help to answer your MP’s questions. 

    To get the most from the meeting it’s good to know a bit about the MP you’ll be talking to. Have a look at their Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia pageand any information on their party’s website. We understand it can feel daunting to visit your MP – but remember that they’re just an ordinary person and their job is to listen to and represent the views of constituents like you.  

    Politicians have busy schedules and may have a limited time to meet with you. Have your key points ready – see the list on this page – and if you can, print these out to give to your MP during the meeting. You may like to show your MP some photos or footage of colony cages during your meeting. Get in touch and we can provide you with some resources to take with you. Sometimes unexpected duties can come up for an MP don’t be offended if your meeting is interrupted or your time is cut short. If this happens, give a brief summary of your key points and request a follow-up meeting or phone call to finish your conversation. 

    Aim to build a good relationship with your MP and find common ground. Your MP will remembeand respond well to a constructive conversation. Allow them to respond to your points, listen well and address their questions with understanding. 

    A positive impression can make all the difference. The aim is to encourage your MP to support animal issues, not push them away. When you meet with your MP, introduce yourself and thank them for their time. Approach the conversation in a polite and friendly way. 

    Before ending the meeting, make sure to ask them to support a phase out of colony cages, and emphasise that you’re counting on them to take action for hens. Regardless of how the meeting went, thank your MP for taking the time to see you. 

    Send your MP a short email summarising your key points and thanking them for the meeting. If they have committed to supporting this issue and taking action for hens, follow up in your email. Provide your MP with answers to any questions you didn’t have the answer to in the meeting. We can help with that. 

    Please tell us how your meeting went. If your MP supports this issue and wants to see hens freed from cages too – we want to knowIf your MP is hesitant to support this issue – we want to know. No matter what response you get, please let us know. 

    A cage is a cage

    Colony cages have been approved as the new caged system to replace soon-to-be illegal battery cages. In essence, colony cages are just larger versions of battery cages that are capable of housing many more hens. Colony cages still breach New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act 1999 as they do not allow hens to express their natural behaviour.

    Action 3 – Attend a political event

    For you, an evening — for hens, a lifetime in cages

    If you have an evening to spare, one of the best things you can do is to attend electorate meetings. Candidates often attend public events which have open question times. That is a perfect opportunity for you to ask candidates when they plan to ban the practice of caging hens. If you are emailing a member of the Labour Party, you can ask them when they are going to fulfil their 2014 promise to ban intensive farming practices, in particular the use of colony cages.

    Keep an eye out for public election events in your area. If you attend one and get to ask a question, ask them what they’re doing to free hens from colony cages. You may even get a chance to have a proper chat with the candidates.

    Upcoming election events

    No events scheduled yet. Watch this space!

    No events scheduled yet. Watch this space!

    No events scheduled yet. Watch this space!

    Action 4 – Sign up for updates

    Yes! I’d like updates on SAFE’s campaign to free hens from cages

    Your actions can make a huge difference for the millions of hens living life in cramped, unnatural conditions on intensive farms. Whether you have an evening to spare or just five minutes, sign up and speak out for hens in New Zealand.

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