Ngaruawahia piggery fire sparks animal rights vigil
An animal rights group has mourned the death of 50 pigs by lining a fence with 1500 names.
The people involved are hoping the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) take notice and push for change around intensive or factory farms, to better protect the animals following a piggery fire in Hopuhopu.
"This isn't about upsetting the farmer, or blaming anybody for anything. But it is about asking questions and getting answers," said Carolyn Press-McKenzie from Helping You Help Animals Charitable Trust (HUHA).
"Obviously, it's devastating it's happened here but there will be farms throughout New Zealand who are in a similar situation."
Friday's blaze at Brien Farms in Hopuhopu, north of Ngaruawahia, comes eight months after a similar fire which killed 400 mother and baby pigs burned to death. And in April 2005, under different owners, 300 pigs were burned to death.
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"We know they would have suffered in life because it is an intensive farm. But even if you move past that, to burn to death is a horrendous way to die," Press-McKenzie said.
"And I can't think of any industry where people would be allowed to run a business where so many lives were involved and there were no health and safety measures in place [for the pigs]."
Almost 20 people turned up to Sunday's vigil on Great South Road, which overlooks the piggery, and used pink, glittery tape to stick up 1500 pages to the fence. They read: 'With my heart I mourn you. With my voice we seek change', and had the names of people who wanted to show support.
"Through our Facebook page, we get to gauge how New Zealanders feel about animal welfare situations and we try and reflect their feelings by taking action.
"We'd love for it to reach MPI, of course, and just let them know New Zealand cares and we are watching. We'd love for it to reach the pig farmer and let him know we are grieving with him."
Cat Robinson travelled down from Auckland to join in the vigil.
"I've come down here to be supportive, have a peaceful protest and to let people know it's not okay and action needs to be taken. MPI, they should be investigating. There should be sprinklers, some sort of plan if there is a fire so animals aren't killed, and in such a horrible way as well. It's just really awful."
A self-described animal-rights activist, Robinson wanted to feel like she was doing something to help the pigs.
"I'm upset because it's continuously happening. Pigs are intelligent animals and emotional animals, they are. They have the cognitive ability of a three-year-old. To see them stuck behind bars and concrete, and for them to die by a fire, is just horrible and it's wrong."
And Press-McKenzie agrees.
"The sort of systems and considerations you would put in place for people, these pigs and these animals deserve the same. They're viable, important and intelligent lives and they deserve the respect of being protected.
"We're just representing the population and saying, enough is enough."
The Brien Farms owners declined to comment at the time.