About 100 protestors have gathered outside poultry giant Tegel Foods’ Auckland head office in Newmarket.
The group is made up of animal right activists and members of a Dargaville-area marae that is situated near the proposed site of a new chicken farm that Tegel has said would be home to 1.3 million birds.
As the demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters this afternoon, one protestor shouted, “You can take your stinky farm and cluck off!”
Others held placards imploring the chicken company to “pull the plug” on the Northland “mega factory” project and suggesting it would be responsible for “40 tonnes of chook poo” per day.
Karen Exley, a beef farmer whose own farm is near the proposed site, said the project should be called a “factory” instead of a “farm”. It would contradict New Zealand’s reputation, she argued.
“We’re a clean, green country,” she said. “No one in New Zealand wants this, and we will follow you around.”
Protesters are expected to move the demonstration to the nearby offices of Tonkin and Taylor, the engineers involved in the project.
The demonstration comes just days after covert footage from inside another Northland chicken barn run by Tegel showed apparently dead and deformed chooks. The Ministry for Primary Industries visited the barn shortly after activist group Direct Animal Action released the video.
"From our point of view if MPI don't prosecute over that, we will be disappointed," group spokesperson Diedre Sims told Radio New Zealand of the video, suggesting that it should also serve as a black mark against Tegel’s application for the new farm.
During her two visits to the Helensville farm, she said she saw "chickens with large open wounds, putrid rotting dead bodies (and) chickens laying on their backs unable to get up to access food and water”.
But the activists likely disturbed the birds, endangering them and putting them at risk, the company’s chief executive, Phil Hand, told RNZ.