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A Korean community spokesman wants the consumption of dog meat banned in New Zealand - despite his country's tradition of eating dog.

Stanley Park, spokesman for the Korean Garden Trust, said he was shocked that it was legal to kill dogs and eat dog meat here.

The trust says it hopes that activities at the $1.5 million Korean Garden project, launched last Saturday, will help counter the belief that dog eating is an integral part of the Korean culture.

"Dog eating may be part of our history, but most Koreans today would consider eating dogs totally barbaric - and our culture actually forbids us making a meal of animals that are considered companions," said Mr Park.

South Korea has outlawed the selling of dog meat since 1984 and he said many Koreans want the practice of dog meat consumption to be banned.

"We hope that New Zealand will also make it illegal for people here to eat dogs."

Paea Taufa, originally from Tonga, was found to have acted within New Zealand law when he killed his pitbull terrier-cross and roasted it in an umu pit at his backyard in Mangere in February.

He was found to have done nothing illegal and could not be prosecuted because he had killed the dog in a humane way - having struck the dog unconscious - before killing it.

The SPCA said it was legal because Mr Taufa had killed the dog with minimal pain and suffering, but it is seeking the assistance of the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs on which Tongan community leaders it can meet to talk about preventing the killing of dogs for human consumption.

Chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said there was a suggestion that this was not an isolated incident.

Ms Kippenberger says she will also be asking the New Zealand Food Safety Authority to impose firmer standards on what can or cannot be eaten.

"The slaughtering, roasting and eating of a dog or other companion animal is simply abhorrent to our culture as New Zealanders," she said.

"We understand that the issue might be viewed differently from the standpoint of some other cultures but we believe that the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders of all ethnicities share our shock and concern over this incident."

A Tonga-based journalist said that although the practise was relatively common, eating dogs still raised eyebrows on the island, and dog meat was not considered a delicacy in Tonga.

"It is a poor man's meat."

Auckland City mayor John Banks, an animal rights activist, says better education on local customs and sensibilities is needed rather than changing the law.

But a spokesman for Save Animals From Exploitation says the call for an outright ban would be supported.

"While we are opposed to the killing of all animals for eating, banning the consumption of dog meat would be a good start," said Hans Kriek.

Mr Park said the workshops, festivals and activities planned at the Korean garden at Barry's Pt Reserve will "update" New Zealanders on Korean cultural attitudes, including its views on eating dogs.

'MEAT TASTES LIKE TENDER BEEF'

Korean immigrant Kenneth Kim, who has eaten dog stew, or bosintang, in Seoul, says it tastes "like tender beef".

"If no one told me it was dog meat, I would have guessed it was meat from a very young calf," Mr Kim said.

Bosintang stew, literally meaning "invigorating soup", is believed to be good for virility.

Dog meat is eaten in several countries, including China, Vietnam, Nigeria and Ghana - where it is considered to have medicinal powers. Some Koreans also believe eating dog meat keeps one cool during summer.

Mr Kim said Koreans did not eat their pets, but dogs raised specifically for their meat on dog farms.

Joon Yi, a Korean worker at Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully's electorate office, said the practice was confined mainly to the older generation as most young Koreans were strongly opposed to the idea.