That phrase might have new meaning in Hawke’s Bay.

Back in July last year we reported on the border closure impact on meat processing in NZ and here in Hawke’s Bay. (See: HB meat processing threatened?)

And now here we are in January with the latest frontpage headline in Rural NewsGovt killing red meat sector?

The threat stems from the fact that virtually all meat processing in Hawke’s Bay and throughout the NZ meat industry involves the ‘halal’ method. 

‘Halal certified’ requires that only a Muslim man can slaughter the animal and the entire processing must involve utensils, equipment and machinery cleansed according to Islamic law. Fully 90% of NZ meat is slaughtered by the halal method.

This process optimizes the marketing opportunities  for NZ meat, enabling it to be sold to Muslim consumers overseas. NZ red meat exports worth $3 billion are ‘halal certified’, destined mainly for the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The problem? The industry requires about 50 migrant Muslim slaughtermen to supplement the domestic workforce, but the Government recently awarded only 15 slots for halal workers against that need.

Although the numbers seem small, this is a critical pinchpoint that could shut down the region’s meat processing lines. 

Rural News quoted Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association: “There is a strong prospect of killing chains shutting down, export dollars lost – along with jobs for New Zealanders working in the country’s meat processing plants – if we don’t let these people into NZ.”

Karapeeva had previously told BayBuzz that the region’s processing plants, listed below, required about 25 halal slaughtermen, of whom 16 at the time were from overseas with expiring visas.

How might this affect Hawke’s Bay? Silver Fern Farms’ Takapau processing facility employs 700 staff in peak season. AFFCO’s Wairoa plant employs another 650. Both plants are 100% halal.

Karapeeva emphasized, “Ultimately, there is a religious component in this that we can’t do anything about. We are not going to be setting up a conversion centre to convert good Kiwi blokes into Muslim slaughtermen.”

Here is the list of Hawke’s Bay’s halal-certified processing plants:

  • Bostock Brothers – Hastings, poultry
  • Progressive Meats – Hastings, beef, deer, goat, sheep
  • Graeme Lowe Tannery – Hastings, beef
  • Lowe Corporation Pacific – Napier, beef, young calves
  • AFFCO – Wairoa, beef, goat, sheep
  • Silver Fern Farms – Whakatu, beef
  • Silver Fern Farms –Takapau, goat, sheep, young calves, beef
  • Fresh Meats NZ – Napier, sheep
  • NZCC Limited – Whakatu, sheep

Of course, animal welfare and environmental considerations might someday persuade many consumers to eschew meat consumption anyway, but that’s a story for another time.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

  1. I’m a Christian as a lot of New Zealanders are!! Killing halal means nothing to me as God does not impose laws around works but faith only. Therefore converting your meat processing was a marketing issue only neglecting your own market here in NZ.
    Unfortunately going down this track was always going to become a problem. I suggest go find other markets & return to sensibility, for the sake of NZ’s & our jobs!

    1. The animal is slaughtered with the Hala blessing and the meat is processed by New Zealanders. It appears your argument is a bit race motivated.

      1. To Robin,
        I love meat. I reported on this issue in terms of its potential economic impact. I confess to being squeamish about throat-cutting, no matter who does it … nothing racial about it. And I suspect that’s true of many people, whatever their race or creed.

        1. The animals are electrically stunned first in order to satisfy NZ animal cruelty laws. When they have their throats cut they have already been rendered unconscious first.

  2. The phrase “my animal has gone to the works” needs explaining to the layman. Is it not true that it means “gone to the slaughterhouse to have its throat cut with a knife whilst still fully alert?” Add this to the stress the sentient creatures endure on their packed journey, and the smell of blood they get upon arrival at their “works” and you have a nightmare scenario.

  3. Please let me add that the RSPCA in UK are opposed to the killing of animals without stunning, and they point out that a large animal can take up to 40 seconds to die in pain. In my book that is cruelty and should be outlawed both here and in UK.

  4. The real question is why did the existing Halal slaughter people leave?
    If you pay enough you will keep your staff.
    Nothing to see here. Just another case of low wages.

  5. It’s not as if we don’t have have a Muslim community in New Zealand. Perhaps another example of not investing enough in training locals rather than relying on workers from overseas.

  6. The problem appears to be that meat companies want to use these Halal people in other jobs which are not strictly governed by their religious beliefs. I understand there is a need to have spare people to cover the eventuality of injury/sickness but meat companies always overstate their immigration requirements. Also they petition gov’t to allow ‘skilled’ migrants for the industry but in reality they are mostly unskilled and require training when they arrive in NZ.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.