Meat & Livestock News

Campaign to Uphold New Zealand’s Live Export Ban Gains Momentum


  • SAFE initiates a national campaign urging the new government to maintain the ban on live animal exports, with support from Dr John Hellstrom of NAWAC.
  • Despite the ban’s introduction in April 2023, debates continue, with some political figures questioning its impact on the agricultural sector and animal welfare standards.
  • Public opinion strongly favours the ban, citing animal welfare and New Zealand’s international reputation, while SAFE warns against reversing progress in animal welfare legislation.

SAFE, an animal rights organisation, has launched a national campaign calling on the new government to uphold the ban on live animal exports. This movement seeks public support through a parliamentary petition led by Dr John Hellstrom, the former chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC). The ban, which took effect in April 2023, was a response to concerns over animal welfare during sea voyages and at destination ports.

Despite its implementation, the ban has sparked controversy, with criticisms from figures such as the then-Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and National’s animal welfare spokesperson, Nicola Grigg, who argued that the ban disregards the select committee process and the opinions of those against it.

SAFE’s chief executive, Debra Ashton, emphasises that reversing the ban would compromise animal welfare and New Zealand’s progress in this area. She highlights the distress animals endure during long sea journeys and the lack of oversight upon arrival at their destinations.

A survey conducted by Camorra Research for SPCA NZ revealed that 83% of New Zealanders doubt the welfare of animals can be guaranteed post-arrival, and 60% believe that revoking the ban would tarnish New Zealand’s reputation for animal welfare. Despite this, 19% of respondents were in favour of lifting the ban.

Internationally, there is a trend towards discontinuing live animal exports due to animal welfare concerns, with countries like Australia, Luxembourg, and the European Union taking steps to phase out the practice. 

Ashton warns that rescinding the ban would be a regressive move for New Zealand, marking the first time legislation has reduced rather than enhanced animal welfare standards. SAFE is determined to prevent any backward steps in New Zealand’s leadership on the issue of live animal exports.