Wellington Scoop

It’s now compulsory to microchip your cat

Wellington city councillors today voted to make it compulsory to microchip all the city’s cats.

All residents will now be required to microchip their cats that are 12 weeks or older. They’ll have 18 months to complete the microchipping.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said consultation with the community revealed that 83 per cent of cat owners thought microchipping was a good idea.

Councillors Jo Coughlan, Helene Ritchie and Nicola Young voted against.

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council’s Environment Committee meeting today made a series of recommendations on rule changes affecting cats, dogs, roosters, pigeons, bees and other animals in the city. The committee’s decisions will be subject to confirmation at a meeting of the full Council on 17 August.

The committee considered amendments to the Wellington Consolidated Bylaw 2008 Part 2: Animals. It also considered recommendations from a review of the Council’s Dog Policy over the past year. An Animal Policy will be developed to provide the public with more information.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the proposed changes strike a balance that recognises both the importance of people’s relationships with their pets and that there are real impacts from uncontrolled animals.

“Protection of native wildlife is dealt with under a separate area, implemented through increased pest control funding, planting and species release at Zealandia,” she says. Compulsory microchipping will enable cats to be more rapidly reunited with their loving owners.”

The committee’s Chair, Councillor Iona Pannett, says the bylaw and rules are part of an intent to protect animals – to enhance their welfare and to stress that people have responsibilities in this regard.

The Committee also recommended some changes to the areas where dogs are allowed and be off-leash. These changes to some parks and dog exercise areas aim to reduce conflict between dogs and other park users whilst allowing dog owners to exercise their pets.

For the Animal Bylaw, the committee recommended:


· All domestic cats over the age of 12 weeks in Wellington City be microchipped and registered with New Zealand Companion Animal Register, or other Council-approved microchip register.

· An 18-month transition period is proposed so that owners have time to ensure that their cat meets the requirements, and to allow for the development of the Animals Policy.

· Raising with the Government the need for national guidance and regulation on the role of territorial authorities in the management of domestic and stray cats.

· Work with the SPCA, vets, and other cat welfare agencies to use non-regulatory options to promote the de-sexing of cats.

· Look at using education and other non-regulatory options to encourage responsible cat ownership.

· To further address the issues of ownership of multiple cats and cats in wildlife sensitive areas through the Animal Policy and education.

· Look at options to encourage responsible ownership of cats in wildlife sensitive areas as part of the development of an Animals Policy.

Other animals:

· Ban roosters from urban areas unless you have permission.

· Require Council permission to keep more than eight chickens or other poultry birds on a typical urban property.

· Ban the feeding of animals (including pigeons and stray and feral cats) except dogs in public places, unless in a designated area such as a duck pond.

For the Dog Policy, the committee recommended:

· Increasing access time for Wellington City’s 10,700 dogs to parks and beaches where there are summer restrictions in place, to better reflect the times when they are used by the wider public.

· Easing restrictions on dogs in the CBD, and allow dog owners to stop with their dogs as long as they are not left unattended.

· Prohibiting dogs from being left unattended.

· Clarifying that the Council can impose a $300 fine on owners who fail to pick up and properly dispose of dog poo.

· All dog owners who apply for Responsible Dog Owner status must have completed dog obedience training by a recognised training school.

· Council look at options to increased enforcement and education to encourage positive and safe interaction between dogs and the public.

· Request that staff discuss with Greater Wellington Regional Council whether it would be possible for them to investigate the possibility of allowing dogs on public transport.

The recommendations on dog exercise areas area:

· Allow dogs to be off-leash on Oriental Bay Beach from 1 April – 30 October. Oriental Bay Beach will continue to be prohibited the rest of the year.

· Continue to prohibit dogs on Freyberg and Scorching Bay beaches.

· Dogs are allowed in Waitangi Park, on the Wellington waterfront, if they are on-lead.

· Making a portion of Island Bay Beach an off-leash area.

· No changes are to be made to dog exercise areas in Ngaio, but further consultation will take place with the community. Changes may be made in the future to reflect that feedback.

· Investigate the cost and feasibility of the installation of dog-poo bag dispensers, rubbish bins and other facilities in fenced dog exercise areas.

· Look at finding suitable options for dog off-leash tracks.

· Work with the SPCA to assess the possibility of improving the dog exercise area next to its premises on the Town Belt on Mt Victoria.

· Retaining off-leash status for old Mitchelltown School site, Liardet and Balfour Street corner site and Kaiwharawhara Park.

· Dogs on leads are explicitly permitted to be walked along the path from Moa point to Breaker Bay through Palmer Head and Tarakena Bay.

Vets applaud cat decision


  1. Celia Wade-Brown, 4. August 2016, 17:58

    Glad we’ve agreed compulsory microchipping – will reunite cats & owners. [via twitter]

  2. Jo Coughlan, 4. August 2016, 17:59

    Rushed, impulsive and potentially unlawful – so I voted no to compulsory microchipping. [via twitter]

  3. Hamish G, 4. August 2016, 19:07

    Good to see Councillor Jo Coughlan showing some common sense and leadership on this issue. Heard from my neighbours who attended the meeting that she did a good job standing up for us cat lovers. All for a pest free Wellington but killing our cats is not the solution.

  4. Justine Beattie, 4. August 2016, 21:06

    So how much will this all cost us ratepayers? Do the councillors know or do they not care since it’s not their money, it’s us ratepayer slugs? Just like Justin Lester’s living wage position – yes for your money, no for mine. And how much will this cost us cat owners? Upfront cost? Registration, vets, etc? Ongoing cost (like dog registration?). Iona Pannett will you resign if this gets overturned when it goes to court?

  5. Mosey, 4. August 2016, 21:22

    I agree with Jo on this. But at least we know who to clean out this election. What will Iona, Justin, Celia and Andy do for a living now?

  6. Helene Ritchie, 4. August 2016, 21:31

    I voted against this as it will do nothing to save the native birds purported to be saved as a result. It is simply a tax on people and cats. Those who wish to have their cats micro-chipped for identification can do so now-voluntarily. A microchipped cat can destroy a bird as much as a non microchipped cat.

    My portfolio is the natural environment portfolio; I am a Zealandia Guardian; I led the development of our biodiversity strategy-Our Natural Capital, and gained extra funds for pest management in the Council budget. I would do anything to ensure our native birds were protected from pests, but the process and the law used by Councillors today was wrong. Further – Council as a result of its decision today, is likely to face legal challenge.

    Council has no way of enforcing “compulsory” microchipping.

    The law would need to be changed by Government, and that law is the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. Now that the National Government has announced that New Zealand will be pest free by 2050, it might as a first action, change that law to enable Councils to control feral cats?!

  7. Graeme Sawyer, 5. August 2016, 0:48

    I am disgusted by Helene Ritchie’s position on this issue – she should resign as chair of the Environment Committee immediately, and hang her head in shame.
    I attended the WCC Environmental Reference Group, where we discussed this matter in great detail; Cr. Richie did not attend that meeting. Had she attended (as she is paid to do) she may have gained a different view on microchipping cats. Her disinterest and apparent disregard of an expert reference group with which she has particular responsibility, is shameful.
    Cr Richie’s position on microchipping is all the more appalling as a study has shown that 82% of cat owners strongly support microchipping, as it’s “the right thing to do”. The only people strongly opposed either don’t understand the issue, or are inciting political ferment among people who don’t understand the issue.
    The Christchurch earthquake was a massive endorsement of microchipping: as I recall, about 80% of cats separated from their owners due to the upheaval of the event were lost to their owners permanently, yet when it came to microchipped cats, 85% were successfully repatriated to their owners.
    NZ has 2.4 MILLION ferral cats. Nobody in their right mind would question that these wild animals are a colossal and ongoing threat to indigenous wildlife. But who is to say whether a cat picked up in a wildlife reserve is a lost pet needing to be reunited with its loving family, or a feral killer that should not be returned to our bush? NOBODY can possibly differentiate the two. Unless the cat is microchipped.
    Compulsory microchipping is the first step towards a resolution of the conflict between cats as “Pest” and cats as pets”. Without resolving that conundrum, ALL cats could face extermination by 2050 under the government’s recent pest elimination policy – and no cat lover wants that!! cat lovers should rejoice that this policy guarantees the safety of well cared for cats.
    Over the lifetime of my dog, I expect to pay microchipping plus at least $1,600 to the WCC for registration fees (he is neutered and will live about 13 years, i hope!). Cat owners can expect to pay the microchipping fee (about $50) and no fees at all. By my maths, the cost of ownership of a cat is 2% of that of a dog,( and no pressure to fence sections or restrain your animal). Big deal!
    This has not been an easy decision for the WCC to make, but about a dozen of our councillors can rest easy tonight, knowing they have done a small, bit a very important thing to help NZ become a better place for our indigenous biodivrsity. Wellington has been “first”: to do many things that are morally right in its time – Like a Nuclear Free Wellington. Much of the world – or at least New Zealand – caught up to that in a few short years after the WCC passed that policy in 1982. I have no doubt that the rest of NZ will catch up with compulsory microchipping in a similarly short space of time. It’s a shame that, at this point in time, Cr. Ritchie will be seen as taking the wrong side of history: rather than being a “David Lange” on this one, she is settling for being a “George Schultz”…..As a steward of Wellington’s environment, and as a leader of our people, Helen Richie has displayed dereliction of her duty.
    The only possible reason to take this stance is as a cynical attempt to play on the insecurities of vulnerable older Wellingtonians who also happen to be cat lovers. It’s a shame that Cr Ritchie is not using her persuasive skills to convince those folks that compulsory microchipping is the best one in the long run – for them, for the cats they love, AND for our environment. …………..and it is also VERY cheap!

  8. Guy, 5. August 2016, 9:45

    Graeme – you obviously feel strongly about the subject. Fair enough. I’m just wondering though, where you get the figure for 2.4 million feral cats? Can you give me a source for that data? Thanks.

  9. CPH, 5. August 2016, 10:33

    Graeme Sawyer – say what you mean: you want all cats without a microchip to be killed?

  10. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 5. August 2016, 12:16

    Graeme, it appears you are passionate about your position. Experience demonstrates when one is fired up and functioning via emotional force, errors creep in swiftly, as they have in the post you have shared. When we began, we too were fired up emotionally, but we have learned that in good politics, intelligent participants will take the issue to task and avoid emotively taking individuals to task. Anyway, a few questions for you, if you would care to respond, that would be great.

    First Councillor Ritchie is not chair of the Environment Committee, presently that office is occupied by Councillor Pannett.
    On the cost of microchipping, our vets quote $75 plus registration fee, along with the caveat that there can be complications. So about $90 and fingers crossed there are no complications.
    Which Environmental Reference Group meeting did you attend? Also, what qualifications make the participants in this meeting “experts”? We would say anyone who is not actively engaged in Feline welfare work is not an expert, regardless of what formal qualifications are in their CV.
    You reference a study which has supposedly “shown that 82% of Cat owners strongly support microchipping”. Which study is that? Please post a link to an online version so that we may study it. If there is not a copy available for public perusal, our view is the data is null and void.
    Yes we are “inciting political ferment” it’s one of the weapons available to put a stop to the wholesale extermination of Cats, and aside from breaking the law we will use every weapon in our arsenal to achieve this aim. We understand the issue all too well.
    Regarding the Christchurch earthquake: Again, lets have some references if you would. If you are uncertain about who the Environment Committee chair is, fair chance you do not have your facts correct about Cats in the Christchurch earthquake. We’d like any information on how the authorities addressed wandering Cats in Christchurch following the earthquake, so let’s have it.
    On the matter of ‘feral’ cats’ supposed adverse effects on native wildlife we encourage all to view the consequences page on our website. Especially the links to the comments by Landcare Research wildlife ecologist John Innes and the paper “Cats Protecting Birds: Modelling The Mesopredator Release Effect”.

    We are presently researching the Government’s ‘pest-free by 2050’ initiative. This is a challenge because it appears the Government is not yet sure how to go about it. However, this is all a moot point because it is clear the more extreme factions of the environmentalist movement wish to deny good New Zealanders their customary right to keep Cats.

    “Indigenous Biodiversity” is an interesting concept.

    One of the cornerstones of modern NZ society is the concept of “Cultural Diversity”, it’s something all good New Zealanders support wholeheartedly. Black, brown yellow or white, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or atheist, if you are from Mars, we’ll fit you in and make you feel right at home. Same should apply to “Biodiversity” should it not?

    Imagine the outcry if someone started touting the concept of “Indigenous Cultural Diversity”, and quite rightly so. If diversity does not imply overall inclusiveness, undoubtedly we have a big problem.

    The consequences of compulsory microchipping is mass exterminations. The recently leaked documentation from the council proves this without a doubt. Public opinion is like a flywheel, it takes a fair heave to get it turning and the environmental movement has a head start. Now is the time for all normal New Zealanders who love Cats to come together and oppose this nonsense, we are the majority and once we get going we will be unstoppable.

    We will oppose this business until the public recognise the orchestrated libelous propaganda campaign against the Cats for what it is…lies. We will oppose it until the present mass hysteria against the Cats has been totally neutralised. We will oppose it all because morally it is the right thing to do.

  11. Laidback Chap, 5. August 2016, 13:32

    Can someone please answer me this, Are cats man-made? I have seen the Lion King Movie, well actually Lion King 1, 2 & 3. And I vaguely remember something about the Circle of Life.

  12. Judy, 5. August 2016, 18:47

    If Gareth Morgan is so fired up about killing cats that don’t conform to his bird ideals, why isn’t he prepared to put his mouth and money into freeing bigger birds – chickens – from the cages that people have forced them into for greedy profit? Then I could at least admire his passion about birds.

    If NZ is such a rocket style economy, people can afford to buy open range eggs. Otherwise, we are all just hypocrites living in a country that could be so wonderful, yet is being sold off to the greedy few with the rights of the animals ignored.

    That says more about any council, government, Morgan Foundation and their hypocritical stances which are building a 3rd world country. NZ is no longer a country to be proud of.

  13. Steve Barnes, 8. August 2016, 11:21

    First they came for the cats, I did nothing, I was not a cat…
    I have always liked Lyndon Hood’s satirical writings and this take on Pastor Martin Niemöller is very clever, very clever indeed.