New Zealand Animal Law Conference 2019

** Further Speaker Announcement**

Jonathan Balcombe – What a Fish Knows

Dr Jonathan Balcombe is a biologist with a PhD in ethology, the study of animal behaviour. He is a former Department Chair for Animal Studies for the Humane Society University, and Director of Animal Sentience for The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy. His screen appearances include on the BBC, the National Geographic Channel, and several documentaries. He currently teaches a course in Animal Sentience for the Viridis Graduate Institute.

He has authored four popular science books on the inner lives of animals, including What a Fish Knows, a New York Times best-seller. He has published over 60 papers and chapters on animal behaviour and protection, and written for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Nature. His fifth book, focussing on insect sentience, will be published next year by Penguin Books.

We are delighted to announce that Jonathan will be joining us at the conference via video link to discuss his research into fish sentience.


The New Zealand Animal Law Association is excited to be hosting the second New Zealand Animal Law Conference at AUT on 28 September 2019. The Conference theme is Creating a better legal system for Animals and will feature New Zealand and international experts.

Tickets and event information is available here. Special pricing for students and early bird purchases are currently available.

The conference programme will feature the following speakers:

Camille Labchuk – “Giving a voice to animals in the legal system”

Camille is the Executive Director of Animal Justice, Canada’s leading animal law charity. Camille is one of Canada’s leading animal rights lawyers, and has worked to protect animals for over a decade. As a lawyer, Camille seeks out cases that enhance the legal interests of animals, expose hidden animal suffering, and result in meaningful policy changes. As an advocate, Camille’s work includes documenting the commercial seal kill on Canada’s East Coast, exposing cruelty in farming, protecting the free speech rights of animal advocates, and campaigns against trophy hunting, circuses, zoos, aquariums, shark finning, puppy mills, and more. She is a frequent lecturer and media commentator on animal law issues. Camille will provide a keynote speech on her work as an animal lawyer and offer insights into animal law from her experience in Canada

Marcelo Rodrigeuz Ferrere – “Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in New Zealand”

We are delighted to have Marcelo return to our conference, after he spoke last conference on the issue of animal sentience. This year, Marcelo will present key findings from the recently released report on enforcement of animal welfare standards in New Zealand, a report funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation.

Panel “How can New Zealand better enforce its animal welfare standards?” – Marcelo Rodrigeuz Ferrere, Dr Mike King (University of Otago, Bioethics Centre), Steve Glassey (University of Otago, PhD Candidate), Saar Cohen-Ronen (NZALA)

This panel will focus on whether New Zealand needs a new organisation for the enforcement of animal welfare standards, and what structures and entity types would be best to enforce those standards. Topics covered will include whether the New Zealand Police should have enhanced powers or scope to enforce animal welfare standards, and what we can learn from public agencies in New Zealand currently when designing what any Animal Commissioner’s jurisdiction would look like.

Panel “Giving a voice to animals – how can New Zealand animal activists and advocates best utilise government, the media and grassroots advocacy” – Gareth Hughes MP (Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand), Sasha Borissenko (journalist) and Debra Ashton (CEO, SAFE)

Our panelists will provide their experiences in their respective fields as to how advocates and activists can best utilise the various tools available to them to create real change for animals.

Panel “Alternative frameworks of animal welfare regulation” – James Dunne (General Counsel, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc), Dr Mike King, Oska Rego (NZALA)

This panel will focus on three areas of law where bodies other than MPI and RNZSPCA have jurisdiction over animal welfare matters. James will offer insights into the animal welfare processes in the racing industry and consider whether the model could be extended to other regulated industry. Mike will provide commentary on Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act and the manner in which animals involved in research, teaching and testing in New Zealand is controlled in New Zealand. Oska will present research into whether the Resource Management Act could be interpreted as requiring consideration of animal welfare issues when applications are being assessed.

Panel “Competing animal welfare concerns – a case study on pest control” – Dr Arnja Dale (Chief Scientific Officer, RNZSPCA), Asher Soryl (PhD Candidate, University of Otago), Cassandra Kenworthy (NZALA)

Our panellists will discuss how ethically and legally New Zealand can ensure animal welfare standards are met when pest control measures are being implemented, and concerns that arise when policy considerations require one group of animals’ lives and welfare to be prioritised over another group of animals.

As further speakers are confirmed, this programme will be updated and is presently subject to change.

For all media and other enquiries, please email events@nzala.org.

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