Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or SPCA New Zealand (abbreviated as RNZSPCA or SPCA) is a New Zealand charitable society who work to promote the humane treatment of animals. The society consists of 41 animal shelters around New Zealand, including many in rural areas. Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, SPCA inspectors have the exclusive power to investigate animal welfare complaints and prosecute abusers when necessary.[1]

SPCA New Zealand
Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals logo.svg
Formation1933 (1933)
TypePeak body
Legal statusCharity

The Royal NZ SPCA has initiated a range of animal welfare campaigns. It has launched public education campaigns about the humane treatment of animals, and has encouraged people to change their behaviour towards animals. SPCA has also run politically motivated campaigns aimed at promoting law changes or questioning the legality of certain practices.[2] A 2007 Reader's Digest ranked the SPCA as the second most trusted charity, behind the Cancer Society.[3]


The New Zealand SPCA was formed by settlers from England in 1882, inspired by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England which was formed in 1824 after the passing of the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822 and which lobbied for the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835. This law was later replaced by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, a law which the settlers brought with them during the colonisation of New Zealand. The English society received royal patronage in 1840.[4]

The New Zealand society first formed in Dunedin, and was followed by the establishment of the Auckland and Wellington branches in 1883 and 1884 respectively. From this point onwards, smaller communities began to establish their own branches of the society. In 1933 the separate local societies joined together to form the national New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.[4] There are now 47 individual branches across New Zealand.[5] In 2008 the society celebrated 125 years of continued service with a march up Queen Street in Auckland.[6]

On 17 June 2017, SPCA delegates voted to form one national organisation from 41 of its independent centres to create a unified and future-focused national entity.[7] This change came into effect on 1 November 2017.


Agricultural and entertainment animalsEdit

The group has also been involved in campaigns against alleged mistreatment of livestock. This includes campaigns against battery hens and pregnant sow pigs kept in "sow stalls" for up to 16 weeks without being able to move or turn around.[8][9]

Individual branches of the group have also been involved in unofficial campaigns, not directly recognised by the national body. A successful campaign by the Auckland arm of the organisation seen an end to rodeos at the Auckland Easter Show.[10] There has also been moves to have rodeos outlawed altogether.[11]

Domestic petsEdit

The charity group has collaborated with the New Zealand Veterinary Association on a campaign against the tail docking of dogs. The SPCA claimed tail docking was an outdated and cosmetic practice which offered no benefits but causes unnecessary pain to the animal.[12] The New Zealand Kennel Club purported there was no scientific evidence to support any of the SPCA's claims and said tail docking should be up to owners' preference.[13] No decision was ever passed into law.[13]

In late 2012 an SPCA campaign which involved teaching dogs was featured on TV3 current affairs show Campbell Live.[14][15] The campaign received international attention,[16] and was covered by The Guardian,[17] BBC News,[18] Metro UK,[19] Huffington Post,[20] and the Financial Times.[21]

Family violenceEdit

The SPCA also works in conjunction with the New Zealand Department of Child, Youth and Family Services to ensure that in households where animal abuse is occurring, possible indications of child abuse are looked into and in return where child abuse is found to be occurring, animals are looked into for possible maltreatment.[22] The Society's One of the family empathy education programme was started in 2007, backed by New Zealand celebrity Norm Hewitt, in response to research indicating that a large percentage of criminals begin abusing animals in early life.[23]

One of the SPCA's recurring campaigns is an annual "List of Shame", exemplifying the worst cases of animal abuse in New Zealand.[24] The list is designed to bring public awareness to the abuse of animals and to alert the public to the close link between animal cruelty and domestic and family violence.[25]


The SPCA receives almost no government funding to run its campaigns and programmes, and relies on fundraising campaigns, public donations and bequests for its operational income. In 2010, the Society was granted $1.2 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries (New Zealand) to deal with animal welfare cases involving large-scale farming operations, to be split over four years.[26] The organisation's main sponsors are Purina and Southern Cross Pet Insurance.

Fines for animal welfare abuse prosecution are often directed to be paid to the SPCA,[27] and the society often seeks the cost of food and veterinary bills from offenders during legal proceedings.[28] The SPCA also has partnerships with various New Zealand businesses to generate funding. For example, pet store chain Animates has encouraged customers to make a donation to the SPCA in return for an ornament that they can hang on an in-store Christmas tree.[29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About SPCA New Zealand". SPCA New Zealand. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  2. ^ "RNZSPCA". SPCA New Zealand. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  3. ^ Rowan, Juliet (29 May 2007). "Parents trust firefighters, but want kids to be high-earning lawyers". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  4. ^ a b "History". Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  5. ^ "About the Royal NZ SPCA". Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  6. ^ "SPCA celebrates 125 years of service". New Zealand Herald. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  7. ^ Colquhoun, Jessie. "SPCA votes to create new national organisation – SPCA New Zealand". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  8. ^ "SPCA upset at sow stall vote outcome". New Zealand Herald. 26 July 2001. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  9. ^ Beston, Anne (25 July 2001). "Sutton warns pig farmers to end stalls". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  10. ^ Ihaka, James (7 January 2008). "Rodeo animals 'just like family'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  11. ^ Binning, Elizabeth (4 January 2008). "Mayor calls for ban on 'unacceptable, undignified and cruel' rodeos". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  12. ^ Warman, Beth. "The Proposed Bill to Ban Tail Docking". NZKC. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  13. ^ a b Wauchop, Jessica (18 September 2007). "Dog welfare code targets tail docking". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  14. ^ "SPCA teaches dogs to drive". 3 News NZ. 7 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Dogs' driving skills put to the test". 3 News NZ. 10 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Famous driving dogs visit the studio". 3 News NZ. 7 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Dogs taught to drive in New Zealand". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Driving school for dogs in New Zealand". BBC News. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  19. ^ "First a dog stole a tractor, now they're driving cars?". Metro. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Driving Dogs Pass Test in New Zealand (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  21. ^ "SPCA's driving dogs". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  22. ^ May Eriksen, Alanah (16 September 2008). "SPCA, CYF police each other's patches". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  23. ^ Hewitt, Norm. "Helping one, helps the other". Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  24. ^ "List of shame". Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  25. ^ NZPA (5 November 2012). "Worst animal cruelty cases 'all too familiar'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  26. ^ "Animal welfare gets funding boost". New Zealand Herald. 23 May 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  27. ^ "Owner fined for starving and dumping dog". New Zealand Herald. 2 October 2008.
  28. ^ Gay, Edward (28 September 2008). "Arrest warrant out for former owner over cruelty to Eve". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  29. ^ "Animates brings Christmas hope to SPCA". Animates. Retrieved 26 November 2015.

External linksEdit