The Ministry for Primary Industries has approved a live export of over 5000 cattle from Napier Port to China, a decision which has been met with criticism.
The animals are high-value dairy breeding stock and are expected to depart from Napier in early August.
The decision has been met with criticism from SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation), who say all live animal exports should be halted until a current review into the practice is completed.
Head of Campaigns at SAFE Marianne Macdonald said the export would be the largest out of New Zealand in the past two years.
She said the trip placed a huge amount of stress on the animals, and often they were being transported to country's which have lower levels of animal welfare than New Zealand.
"We can't control what happens to animals once they arrive at those destinations, but what we can do is stop exporting them."
She felt the decision undermined the review into live exports, and there should be a halt on the practice until the review was completed.
"It just shows they are not taking their review seriously."
MPI Director of Animal Health and Welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says applications for live exports are given careful consideration.
"We don't approve livestock for export from New Zealand (through an Animal Welfare Export Certificate - AWEC) unless we are fully satisfied that strict animal welfare requirements will be met by the exporter."
"We are satisfied all conditions have been met in relation to this shipment."
Conditions include requirements around water, food, space and facilities.
Livestock handlers accompany the animals, and medicines and medical equipment are available on board.
He said MPI does not have ongoing jurisdiction over the animals once they reach China but do consider their future welfare.
"In this case, the cows are high-value breeding stock for improving the genetics of China's dairy industry."
"The importers have made a significant commercial investment in importing these animals, so it is in their interests to ensure the animals are well cared for and maintained in excellent condition."
"Like us, the Chinese authorities are very focused on the welfare of the animals and have had veterinarians in New Zealand to observe the animals prior to export."
"In addition we will require the exporter to provide us with a report on the welfare of the animals during the 30 days after their arrival in China."
"In the unlikely event any issues are identified, this would be taken into consideration when reviewing future applications for export from the parties involved."
He said until the review into live export is completed, they must assess applications based on current laws.
"We cannot predetermine the outcome of the review and have to follow the current law."