New Animal Welfare law builds solid working relationships

21 December 2001

The way animal welfare issues were managed during this year's drought conditions have been welcomed as positive sign of the worth of the Animal Welfare Act introduced in 1999.

The Act is two years old in January and has gained widespread support among industry and animal welfare groups. Earl Culham, of MAF's Special Investigations Group (SPIG) says the near famine conditions faced by some farms in the South Island this winter demonstrated that the Act encourages solid working relationships to help resolve animal welfare issues.

"With its resources stretched, MAF was able to spread the net to include other organisations with interests in animal welfare, such as Federated Farmers, the RNZSPCA and the New Zealand Veterinary Association".

Mr Culham says Federated Farmers' elected representatives made an important contribution in supporting farmers and MAF. Peter Blomkamp of RNZSPCA says he was delighted to be able to offer some SPCA inspectors on secondment to MAF during the drought. "It worked well," he says.

Dr Murray Gibb of the NZ Veterinary Association says the Animal Welfare Act enables MAF to ensure animal welfare is being responsibly managed in New Zealand. "There has been a remarkably smooth transition from the Animals Protection Act to the new regulatory environment, with its greater focus on codes of welfare for animals. We believe it is a well designed, well written statute that facilitates a flexible, partnership approach," says Dr Gibb.

Angus Davidson, Pork Industry Board chief executive, is pleased "the emphasis now is moving toward resolving problems and away from the old policing mentality".

More industry bodies are becoming involved in development of welfare standards. Draft codes have to be approved by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and are then issued by the Minister of Agriculture.

Game Industry Board chief executive, M J Loza, says the new Act encourages cooperation and consultation. "It's a positive step forward".

For further information contact:

Dr Wayne Ricketts, MAF Animal Welfare Group on (025) 220 9313 or
Dr David Bayvel, Director, MAF Animal Welfare Group on (04) 474 4251

Background information

Codes of welfare have new significance under Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welare Act 1999 sets out the fundamental obligations for people who have animals in their care written in general terms. The details of how these obligations should and can be met is found in the codes of welfare that are can be issued under the Act.

These codes set out the minimum standards of care for the wlefare of animals and provide guidelines and recommendations for owners of animals or people in charge of animals. Codes also provide educational information on the welfare of animals.

Where a specific industry is readily identified by a representative group, for example the pig and poultry industries, then that industry has responsibility for drafting a code. Otherwise any person or organisation can develop a draft code.

It is then submitted to the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) which checks that the draft meets criteria stipulated in the Act such as clarity, compliance with the purpose of the Act, and prior consultation with those affected by the code.

If a code meets this criteria, NAWAC publicly notifies the code and calls for submissions. Public consultation is a new requirement of the Act. It has been included to ensure that the public can comment on draft codes and that the final code takes into account society's expectations.

NAWAC has a full workload in 2002 and is giving top priority to bringing six pre-existing voluntary codes under the legal standing of the new Act, as well as review or developing a number of other codes. The programme for 2002 includes:

Summary of Progress Review of Deemed Codes as at 21/12/2001

(Note: Six codes were deemed by the Animal Welfare Act as deemed codes (ie. they were saved) for a transitional period of 3 year until 31 December 2002)

Code of Welfare for: Status

Target Date

Broilers Chickens Submissions closed for public notification on 14 December. To be discussed by NAWAC mid February April 2002
Pigs Submissions closed for public notification on 14 December. To be discussed by NAWAC mid March April 2002
Animals Used in Rodeo Events and Live Entertainment Sent out for public notification on 13 December . Submission close 25 February May 2002
Zoos, Animal Parks and Aquariums (Formerly Exhibit Animals and Information for Animal Exhibit Operators) First draft completed. Anticipated will be publicly notified late February May 2002
Circus First draft completed. Anticipated will be publicly notified late February June 2002
Layer Hens Draft (being drafted by a poultry industry led group) due to NAWAC February for initial comment August 2002
Commercial Slaughter of Animals
(Note: this was not a deemed code)
Draft completed. Anticipated will be forwarded to NAWAC late February September 2002

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33