International protest group warned about using violent animal footage
Protesters planning to publicly broadcast "horrific" animal cruelty footage in downtown Auckland risk breaking the law, New Zealand's censorship office says.
The protesters, part of global animal rights organisation Anonymous for the Voiceless (AV), will play video footage on Queen St of animals being brutally slaughtered for meat consumption.
Auckland AV organiser Daniel Rutherford-Smith said the activists will screen either overseas animal cruelty documentary Earthlings or footage from New Zealand animal activist group Farmwatch.
Office of Film and Literature Classification spokesperson Sue Hoyle said if AV used Earthlings they would likely be committing an offence.
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"This film is classified in NZ as R16 with a note that it contains 'graphic animal cruelty'," Hoyle said.
The New Zealand classification of Earthlings describes the documentary as containing horrific images, including live animal skinning, slaughter, abuse, vivisection and cannibalism.
It said the graphic nature of the content and how it was depicted was likely to significantly shock and disturb children and young teenagers.
Committing an offence under the Classification Act could lead to fines or imprisonment.
AV started in Melbourne, but it has chapters throughout the world with Auckland recently getting its own chapter.
Masked protesters will stand in a cube formation holding out screens showing the graphic footage.
Rutherford-Smith said there would be a backlash to the protest against consumption of animal products.
People would poke fun, try to ignore it or say that it didn't happen in New Zealand, but he was hopeful it would open people's eyes.
Rutherford-Smith said he was also prepared for children to see the footage.
"It's crazy to think that people consider the imagery worse than the action, which is essentially what they're allowing through purchasing these products."
He said for New Zealand's population size the farming industry's affect was probably worse on the environment than most places.
Federated Farmers animal welfare spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said he wasn't sure what sort of reaction AV's approach would have.
"They're seeking more and more out there ways of doing it to get their exposure," Hoggard said.
He said it wasn't all bad, because animal activism kept the industry on its toes.
AV will be protesting on Queen St on May 27.