My family immigrated from England, to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa then back to England, travelling by ship. I remember the last two voyages. Unless you've experienced weeks crossing vast oceans on an ocean liner it is difficult to comprehend the relentlessness of seasickness.
At times, heavy, rolling seas raising us high before dropping us down from a great height only to lift us again moments later, was beyond the capacity of anyone to cope with.
Ropes lined staircases to provide something to grab in addition to the handrail, as the ship lurched in every direction. Elderly people sleeping in armchairs on the upper deck lounge woke to find themselves tipped forward and running. People broke their arms. Heavy glass doors swung open, hitting people. Dining staff fell, throwing hot meals over tables and passengers.
Behind us at our table as we lurched from side to side as well as up and down, water splashed through the port holes. The violence of the seas made it unsafe to go out on the decks as gales sent the tops of waves smashing over the rails. It was freezing, and standing upright was impossible.
Days of nausea, vomiting, thumping head and legs too weak to stand was wretched.
And that brings me to my point.
Animals experience seasickness too, and subjecting them to long ocean voyages is well outside humane treatment. These living beings, treated like cargo, have been shown to lie covered – covered – in excrement, ill and dying. They dislocate and break limbs, overheat, dehydrate. They suffer, and sometimes suffer to death.
While New Zealand's trade is important, sending animals on long sea journeys to countries without even our skimpy animal welfare standards, renders us bottom feeders, discarding ethics if it pays well.
China is a dictatorship committing serious human rights abuses. Animal welfare laws are non-existent. Hacking off the limbs of live dogs, skinning and scalding them to death, the treatment of exotic animals… the internet is full of examples.
This treatment of animals would repulse all New Zealanders. Why are we not talking about that and instead, tip-toeing around a dictatorship with human rights abuses and outrageous animal cruelty? Is money the only thing that matters and not ethics?
Like people trapped in violent relationships out of fear for the financial consequences, we tolerate what should not be tolerated.
And then there's the Gulf Livestock 1 crew - mainly Filipinos. The Philippines is also a dictatorship and human rights abuses are rife.
This time, a human tragedy is added to the animal tragedy. My condolences to all the families that wait for news of their loved ones.
With modern-day slavery now recognised, did anyone investigate whether the crew were there voluntarily, or as victims? Does it matter, or are we willing to put our heads in the sand here, too?
Winston Peters recently said that if it was not for livestock exports, this country would have no farming industry at all. I doubt most Kiwis knew this. Aided and abetted by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee's (NAWAC) provision of a loophole, animals cannot be exported for slaughter, but can be exported for breeding first. Their slaughter comes later. The same slaughter that resulted in an export ban in the first place.
Our animal welfare laws are a mess. Declaring animals sentient in 2015 has meant, literally, nothing: If it's a money-earner, anything goes.
Live export must stop. The time for action is now. A truly authentic independent body for animal welfare is needed and to disband the part-time and wholly inadequate NAWAC.
• Lynn Charlton is the spokesperson for Anti Rodeo Action NZ.