A "small but symbolic" group of protesters stood at the entrance to Napier Port - in the distance, the faint outline of a ship, with 5400 cattle on board, could be seen.

The Yangtze Harmony, carrying the largest shipment of live cattle in two years, departed around midday yesterday for China.

New Zealand routinely exports breeding cattle overseas, shipping 27,306 in 2017, and 17,319 last year, but the process has earned the ire of animal rights activists in recent years.

Video will play in
Play now
Don't auto play

Never auto play
SAFE supporters outside the Napier Port protesting a shipment of live cattle

The protest, organised by Save Animals from Exploitation (Safe), drew around 100 people, all armed with signs, and their voices