Kia ora everyone, my name is Deirdre Sims, I’m a campaigner with Direct Animal Action. We’re a grassroots animal rights group based here in Auckland.
We run campaigns designed to pressure the Government to make positive legislative change for animals. We also run campaigns designed to pressure animal abuse industries to change.
When I say Direct Animal Action is a grassroots group, I literally mean we’re a small group of volunteers that give up our time, our mental and emotional energy and often money from our own back pockets to fight these animal abuse industries and to pressure the Government to do the right thing.
We do this because we are passionate about making real, tangible change for animals right now.
We do it because we hate to see injustice against the vulnerable and the innocent.
We do it because we believe that industries that use and abuse animals for profit must be held to account.
We do it because we believe in people power. We believe that ordinary people like you and I can make great change if we come together and are organised.
At the moment, Direct Animal Action are running campaigns against two giants in the animal abuse industries; Tegel Chicken and Mainland Poultry.
Tegel raise and slaughter 53 million chickens per year for their meat. Mainland Poultry are the country’s largest egg producer.
Both these companies want to build mega factories that will be the biggest of their kind in our country.
Tegel want to build a 9 million chicken “free-range” mega factory in the Kaipara and Mainland Poultry want to build a 400,000 chicken “cage-free” egg factory in the Waikato.
Most of us here will know that “free-range” and “cage-free” don’t equate to “cruelty-free” by any means.
In both of these campaigns, Direct Animal Action is harnessing the power of the people to fight back at these industry giants.
We’ve made unlikely alliances with rural locals, iwi and small businesses who are vehemently opposed to these industrial mega factories being built in their beautiful communities.
These campaigns are about stopping mega factory farms from being built – but they’re also about much more than that.
These campaigns are about starting a national dialogue about the industry trend towards bigger and bigger industrial mega farms.
These campaigns are about saying no! No Tegel! No Mainland Poultry! We won’t let you steam roll over the animals, communities and the environment in your relentless pursuit of the dollar!
We will hold you to account. We will stop you. And we will bring your cruel industries to an end no matter how long it takes us.
Despite all the global evidence about climate change and the consumer outcry against environmental degradation and animal welfare, the animal abuse industries in New Zealand are still pushing ahead for bigger and bigger industrial mega farms.
Aside from the Tegel and Mainland Poultry situations, we are seeing this in the MacKenzie Basin, where Murray Valentine, one of the directors of Mainland Poultry, is desperately trying to build a 15,000 cow industrial dairy conversion on pristine land that’s home to stunning alpine lakes, rivers and rare native birds.
We’re seeing this in Ashburton where SAFE have revealed that here in Aotearoa we have American style beef feedlots where 20,000 animals are locked into barren, uncovered pens.
If ordinary people like you and I don’t stand up and resist this industry push for bigger and bigger at the expense of everything beautiful and vulnerable, what kind of a world will we be left with?
We at Direct Animal Action have been into Mainland Poultry and Tegel factories. What we’ve witnessed has broken our hearts and will stay with us forever.
It’s hard to describe the overwhelming feeling of witnessing so many thousands of animals in front of us – and knowing that we can’t directly help those individuals.
Which is why it’s so important that we document what they’re going through and we take that to the media so the whole of New Zealand can see what we’ve seen.
It’s also important to us to we save some individuals when we can.
We saved a hen we named Frida from a Mainland Poultry farm in Whangarei where we documented rats running through cages and a cesspit full of dead, rotting hens.
Frida now lives in a beautiful home, where she’s loved and spends her days roaming on the grass and enjoying the outdoors.
From a Tegel farm, we saved a little chick called Peep. Peep was a tiny chick covered in large open wounds where other chicks had been pecking her, literally cannibalism because meat chicken farms are so crowded.
Peep was on death’s door when we found her and we knew we couldn’t leave her. We took Peep to the vet, got her wounds stitched up and got her medicine. We took her to a beautiful new home where she was loved so much.
Peep had a few weeks where she knew love and comfort. But sadly Peep didn’t survive. Infection from her open wounds was too pervasive and she died.
These are the innocent victims of mega corporations like Tegel and Mainland Poultry.
Individuals like Peep and Frida are at the heart of what motivates us to keep going and to do what we can to hold these industries to account.
We’re just ordinary individuals but we can’t stand by and do nothing. It doesn’t matter how big and powerful the enemy is.
Our vision is for a world where mega corporations like Tegel and Mainland Poultry don’t destroy everything beautiful and vulnerable on our planet in the pursuit of profit. We won’t let them.
We’re heartened to see the big shift that’s happening towards plant-based alternatives.
We’re inspired by companies like Sunfed Meats and Beyond Meat.
We love the fact more and more cafes and food eateries are grasping the fact that consumers care.
People want ethical food, people are buying and eating with conscience now because people do intrinsically know what’s right and what’s wrong.
All we need to do as campaigners for change is to show people, and to keep showing people, what these mega industries are doing to our animals, our environment, our communities, to our world; and it’s the people, all of you, who will ultimately lead us to a truly compassionate world.