RNZSPCA History

RNZSPCA stands for the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  We are a voluntary organisation that provides help to animals and owners seven days a week.

How did the Society originate?

The Society originated in England last century at a time of great animal use and abuse.  Animals were used in many situations to provide motive power (eg pit ponies and transport).  Blood sports such as bull-baiting and cockfighting were commonplace, providing savage forms of crude "entertainment".

The first law to protect animals was passed in 1822 after a long struggle by several people, in particular William Wilberforce of anti-slavery fame, and Richard Martin, otherwise known as Humanity Dick.  Two years later, in 1824, the Rev Arthur Broome formed the SPCA in London.  These three men, with others, proceeded to take many prosecutions for breaches of the new Act. The Society received royal patronage in 1840.

New Zealand Origins

Along with other things British, the early settlers brought with them the laws of England, and thus the English Protection of Animals Act 1835 became part of our law. This was replaced in 1878 by the first New Zealand Act protecting animals.

By this time the settlers had time to think of other things besides establishing the necessities of life, and in 1882 the first SPCA was formed in Dunedin, quickly followed by the other main centres.

In 1933, the various separate Societies decided to amalgamate as a Federation.  Out of this has grown the national organisation known as the RNZSPCA.  Gradually, smaller communities established their own branches until today there are 42 local SPCAs throughout the country.

How is the Society funded?

Our Society is purely a voluntary organisation, receiving no state funding whatsoever. It relies for its income on donations, bequests and its own fund-raising efforts.

What is the law relating to animal welfare?

This is the Animal Welfare Act 1999. It is a very wide-ranging Act and deals with offences in the handling and management of animals (including birds) in this country.

What are the more common offences?

  • Failing to provide an animal with adequate food, water and shelter
  • Deliberate acts of cruelty towards an animal
  • Failing to seek necessary veterinary advice