Codes form part of the Animal Welfare Act
Owners or people in charge of animals must comply with the:
- Animal Welfare Act 1999
- minimum standards for animal care and management in codes of welfare
- regulations issued under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
The codes are issued under the Act but appear separate from the Act because with so many types of animals and situations, it is impractical to include them all in the Act. It would make for lengthy and unwieldy legislation.
How to use the codes of animal welfare
More than one code of welfare might be relevant for a particular situation. For example, when transporting sheep, 2 codes would apply:
- the sheep and beef cattle code of welfare
- the transport within New Zealand code of welfare.
Codes of welfare also have recommended best practices. These recommendations set out standards of care and conduct, over and above the minimum required to meet the obligations in the Act. They are included to encourage higher standards of animal welfare.
Although relevant regulations are referenced in the codes, there may be other regulations that are relevant to you. Check the full list of animal welfare regulations where appropriate.
If you are charged with an offence under the Act:
- evidence of your failure to meet a relevant minimum standard in a code may be used to support the prosecution
- your defence may include evidence that you equalled or exceeded the minimum standards in a relevant code.
The codes are flexible enough to be modified and improved as community expectations, good practice, scientific knowledge and technical advances allow.
Codes of welfare replace the 'Codes of recommendations and minimum standards', which were issued under a previous law.
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) acknowledges the explicit recognition of animal sentience within the Animal Welfare Act in 2015. Sentience is the ability to perceive or feel things. The understanding that animals are sentient has always been integral to NAWAC's development of the codes of welfare and the minimum standards contained within them.
With sentience now explicitly recognised within the Act, NAWAC will continue to integrate the concept of animal sentience into future codes and standards as they are developed and reviewed.
A code of welfare can apply to:
- a particular animal species
- activities that might involve many animal species, like circuses, zoos, or transporting.
We've put the codes into 2 groups to help you find the one you need — for a species or an activity.