Willy Leferink is frustrated with how New Zealand TV news trivialises animal welfare issues

Willy Leferink is frustrated with how New Zealand TV news trivialises animal welfare issues

By Willy Leferink*

To some the New Zealand flag is outdated and too similar to Australia’s. 

If you want close, compare the flags of Luxembourg and Netherlands. Luxembourg’s flag has a darker blue than Netherlands, while the Dutch flag is square to Luxembourg’s rectangle. Apart from that they’re a dead ringer. 

Yet there’s no clamour for change and no one in Holland feels any less Dutch because of it.

There are heaps of countries with flags which look alike.

Most Kiwis seem to know their place in the world and you cannot tell me the flag made Bill Hamilton or Ed Hillary less proud to be a Kiwi. What about that famous son of Canterbury and double Victoria Cross winner, the farmer/soldier Charles Upham? 

In the year we commemorate the centennial of World War One, the suggestion of ditching the flag seems insensitive. What about the alternative. Is hitching our identity to how well our sporting teams perform the best idea?  If it’s a silver fern, like the All Blacks, then why don’t we get AIG to sponsor it? Flags aren’t brands or meant to be hip. They’re an anchor to what makes us, us.

Having said this, if a majority of New Zealanders wants change then who am I to stand in their way. My only suggestion is to make sure our trading partners and especially the Chinese know we’ve got a new one!

In recent weeks, Synlait joined Westland in going toe to toe against Fonterra in the payout stakes.  We’re also seeing politicians spray our cash around like its confetti and there’s still nine more months of promises yet to come.

It’s dishonest when voters aren’t being told how this cash is being generated. 

Instead of changing the flag, why not flag where this cash comes from and what good it does for all Kiwis?

What we get instead is One News trying to rip down the New Zealand dairy industry over a farm in Chile.

What I saw on television seemed bad so let me clear that the Kiwi farm system is not a pick ‘n’ mix.  Our systems and standards must be bottom lines for New Zealand companies farming overseas.  Yet according to One News, what happens on a farm half-way around the world now affects the global reputation of New Zealand. 

Funny there was been no picketing of Greek and Italian Restaurants after the Rena hit a rock off Tauranga. Have we banned Canadian Maple Syrup because of its harp seal cull?  If we take the reputational line then we will forever be walking on eggshells.  It means anything done by a Kiwi abroad may affect “NZ Inc.”

Wouldn’t be great if our media dedicated a fraction of their energy to talking about red meat reform or what farmers are doing with regard to the environment.  Instead of seeking to understand what goes on in New Zealand, One News went to those unbiased people from SAFE.  This is an organisation comprising people who probably view wool carpet as akin to animal abuse

If you have a pet, guess where some of its meat comes from.

Bobby calves are also worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the New Zealand veal and beef export trade. This is also a sure sign we don’t abuse calves on-farm, in transport or when they are processed. Even if they live for only a few days it does not excuse anyone from their ethical or moral treatment.

There will always be some roosters but the vast majority of farmers care.

We also have plenty of eyes on us from MPI inspectors to vets since calving is a busy time of the year for them too. Last year, there was not a single complaint received by the MPI about bobby calf treatment despite there being millions of them.

I need to flag that the vast majority of our animals are healthy and are treated well by passionate farmers.  To the few that are born sick or deformed, then we owe it to them to treat them humanely and not prolong their suffering. 

The overwhelming majority of Kiwi farmers share the same moral obligation towards our animals.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our mainstream media flagged this a bit more to their readers and viewers? 


Willy Leferink is Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson. This article first appeared in the Ashburton Guardian and is used here with permission.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Just because we report everytime an All Black,faded super model or an up and coming singer pass wind doesn't mean we trivalise news.We only report on thigs that people want to hear.

Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are diving so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.