National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) was established under the Animal Welfare Act to provide independent advice to the Government minister responsible for animal welfare.

NAWAC's role in animal welfare

NAWAC gives the Minister responsible for animal welfare advice on:

  • the welfare of animals in New Zealand
  • animal welfare research needs
  • legislative proposals
  • codes of welfare
  • regulations
  • traps and devices
  • hunting and killing animals in a wild state.

Section 57 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 lists all of NAWAC's functions.

Find out more

NAWAC's work

NAWAC prioritises its work to make the most of its limited resources while improving animal welfare in New Zealand. NAWAC uses a framework to decide which animal welfare issues to address first. The committee updates its work programme every year.

Download NAWAC's prioritisation framework [PDF, 52 KB]

Download NAWAC's work programme [PDF, 462 KB]

Timeline for reviewing codes of welfare [PDF, 459 KB]


NAWAC has published guidelines explaining how the committee works. It updates the guidelines regularly to reflect the experiences gained during NAWAC's deliberations.

These guidelines are not a legal interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

  1. Approach to the consideration of draft codes of welfare [PDF, 35 KB]
  2. Dealing with practices which might be inconsistent with the spirit of the Animal Welfare Act [PDF, 43 KB]
  3. Setting minimum standards where section 73(3) applies [Revoked] [PDF, 66 KB]
  4. Process for the development of codes of welfare [PDF, 331 KB]
  5. Role of science in setting animal welfare standards [PDF, 115 KB]
  6. Wider issues relevant to setting minimum standards [PDF, 143 KB]
  7. Taking account of society’s ethical values, technical viewpoints and public opinion [PDF, 23 KB]
  8. Balancing animal welfare needs (under review)
  9. Assessing the welfare performance of restraining and kill traps [PDF, 311 KB]
  10. Phasing out one animal management system in favour of another [PDF, 25 KB]
  11. Principles of consultation [PDF, 60 KB]
  12. Prioritisation framework [PDF, 52 KB]
  13. Recommending regulations where section 183A(2) applies [PDF, 37 KB]
  14. Determining level of intervention [PDF, 94 KB]


NAWAC report on rodeos

Animal sentience

The understanding that animals are sentient (able to perceive or feel things) has always been important in NAWAC's work.

NAWAC acknowledges the explicit recognition of animal sentience in the Animal Welfare Act in 2015. With sentience now formally recognised, NAWAC continues to integrate the idea of animal sentience in its work, including in codes and standards as they are developed and reviewed.

Find out more about animal sentience

Animal sentience workshop

NAWAC and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) jointly hosted an Animal Welfare Sentience Workshop in November 2017. We've got presentations and videos of the speakers, and a report from the workshop.


NAWAC is currently exploring ways in which it can make its meetings more open and transparent. To express your interest in attending a NAWAC meeting – email


NAWAC holds 4 ordinary meetings a year. Summaries from the meetings are published on this website, or you can request copies – email


The full minutes from the most recent NAWAC meetings are published below, or you can request copies – email


Annual Reports

NAWAC produces an annual report which covers all of its operations for the year, including work on codes of welfare and regulations, and updates on research.

Download the latest NAWAC annual report [PDF, 442 KB]

Membership of NAWAC

NAWAC is made up of a chairperson, the chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, and up to 9 other members. The Animal Welfare Act 1999 lays out requirements for membership. Members are chosen for their expertise and need a range of knowledge and experience including:

  • veterinary science
  • agricultural science
  • animal science
  • commercial use of animals
  • care, breeding and management of companion animals
  • ethical standards and conduct in respect of animals
  • animal welfare advocacy
  • understanding of the public's interest in animals
  • environmental and conservation management.
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