Meat & Livestock News

Nationwide Rallies to Protest Against Live Export in New Zealand


  • Nationwide protests are planned against the potential lifting of New Zealand’s live export ban, a policy change considered by the new government.
  • The ban, hailed as a significant win for animal welfare, was introduced in 2021 following the Gulf Livestock 2 tragedy.
  • Critics argue the ban’s reversal could harm New Zealand’s international reputation and rural economy, while supporters cite animal welfare and public opinion as reasons to maintain it.

In a significant development, New Zealand is witnessing a surge of public dissent as the new government deliberates over reversing the 2021 ban on live exports. This policy, enacted by the previous administration, was celebrated as a monumental stride towards enhancing animal welfare standards in the country.

Rachel Poulain, representing End Live Export NZ, expressed concerns that rescinding the ban would subject countless animals to severe distress during prolonged sea voyages.

The catalyst for the original ban was the tragic sinking of Gulf Livestock 2 in 2020, which prompted then-Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to announce cessation plans for the trade, valued at around $500 million.

Despite this, the decision faced opposition, notably from the Ministry for Primary Industries, which warned of economic repercussions and challenges to rural recovery post-COVID-19. The ministry highlighted the vital income live exports provided to rural communities.

Nicola Grigg, previously National’s animal welfare spokesperson and now the Associate Minister of Agriculture, criticised the ban for disregarding the select committee process and the views of those against the prohibition. Live Animal Export New Zealand, representing the sector, argued that the ban was misaligned with public sentiment, citing a report suggesting over half of New Zealanders trusted regulatory oversight over the industry.

Conversely, End Live Export NZ’s Elin Arbez pointed to a recent SPCA survey indicating strong public backing for the ban, with only 19% in favour of its removal. This sentiment underscores a widespread expectation for high animal welfare standards, seemingly at odds with the practice of live sea exports.

In response to the potential policy reversal, monthly rallies are scheduled across New Zealand, starting this Sunday, 25 February, in major cities including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and others. These demonstrations aim to voice collective opposition to the ban’s lifting, highlighting the contentious debate surrounding live animal exports, animal welfare, and economic considerations within New Zealand’s agricultural landscape.