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Animal Welfare

Primary Industries in New Zealand

Anyone who looks after animals or owns animals must meet their needs and follow the Animal Welfare Act.

Animals play an important role in our lives. Animals provide:

  • food
  • fibre
  • company
  • education
  • and can be used for research

New Zealand’s animal welfare system is based on one law that covers everything to do with animal welfare – the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Any one who owns or is in charge of animals must follow this act. 

Animal needs

There is a set of animal welfare standards known as the 'five freedoms'. They outline what animal owners and carers must give their animals. They are not just things we want to do for our animals, but also things we must do to be good owners.

The 5 freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst (food and water)
    All animals need clean water and a well-balanced, healthy diet. 
  2. Freedom from discomfort (shelter)
    All animals should live in a comfortable place to keep them healthy and happy. All animals need shelter and a comfortable resting area. 
  3. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease (medical care)
    All animals should be taken to a vet if they are sick or injured and given regular health checks. 
  4. Freedom to behave naturally (exercise)
    All animals need enough space to move around and have regular exercise. 
  5. Freedom from fear and distress (love and understanding)
    All animals deserve to be happy and live without too much stress.

Of course, no freedom is enough in on its own we need to give our animals all 5 freedoms all the time, so they can live happy and healthy lives.

Animal Welfare Act 1999 

The 5 freedoms are also an important part of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which the SPCA is in charge of. SPCA Inspectors will check to see if the 5 freedoms are being provided when they visit a person's place after receiving an animal welfare complaint. If they find that the animals are not receiving these needs, they will try and work with the owners to help them understand what they need to do, and help improve the lives of the animals.

If animals are being badly treated they may need to remove the animals from the property, and may charge the person who has not followed the Animal Welfare Act.

Animals in the Primary Industries

Farmers and others working in industries based on animal production must also follow the rules set out in the Animal Welfare Act. People are now a lot more aware of the need to care for animals and it is important for a company’s image to show that they treat animals well.

Ready for a quiz?


Audio Māori keywords: 

Why do you think animal welfare is so important in the primary industries?

Anyone who owns or is in charge of animals is responsible for making sure all their welfare needs are met. Image: LEARNZ.

The Animal Welfare Act outlines the responsibilities that pet owners must meet. How do you care for your pets to make sure all their needs are met? Image: LEARNZ.

Animals need to be free to express normal behaviour. Animals need to have the opportunity to play and the company of the animal's own kind encourages the expression of normal behaviours. Image: LEARNZ.

Anyone who breeds animals must ensure that they provide the '5 freedoms'. What are the 5 freedoms? Image: LEARNZ.

Primary Industries in New Zealand