Interim permission for NZ Shechita as case gets underway

August 9, 2010 Agencies
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Lawyers for representatives of the New Zealand Jewish community have filed legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture, seeking a restoration of the right to practise shechita in New Zealand…and have won the interim right to allow Shechita.

This followed discussions with the Minister after he had decided not to exempt shechita under the new Commercial Slaughter Code which came into effect on 28 May [2010].

“We are pleased to report that an agreement for Interim Relief from the terms of the present Code was reached in court this morning,” said a representative for the plaintiffs (Auckland Hebrew Congregation Trust Board and Wellington Jewish Community Centre).

“This enables the continued practice of shechita in New Zealand until the matter comes to trial – likely to be in 2011.”

Court orders were made by consent in the Wellington High Court this morning to give legal effect to that agreement.

The issue of shechita (the Jewish method of humane slaughter for kosher meat) has been under review and discussion in New Zealand since 2001. The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), set up by the Ministry of Agriculture, recommended to the Minister that shechita be granted an exemption from the new Commercial Slaughter Code, but the Minister rejected this advice. This lead to the present situation.

Shechita has been carried out in New Zealand since 1843.

Garth Cohen, Michael Stiassny and Geoff Lev y made the following joint statement:

“As we informed the community last week, we filed legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture, seeking a restoration of the right to practise shechita in New Zealand.   We are pleased to report that an interim agreement has now been reached with the Minister, which will enable the continued practice of shechita in the period up to trial (which is likely to take place during 2011).

Court orders were made by consent in the Wellington High Court this morning, giving legal effect to that agreement.  Every effort is being made to get chicken and local lamb “back on the table” as soon as possible.

The community would like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution the legal team at Russell McVeagh have made in putting together our case to achieve this positive outcome in such a short period.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has added its support for the New Zealand community. Executive Director Peter Wertheim said: “The ECAJ welcomes the interim agreement that will restore the right of the Jewish community in New Zealand to practice shechita pending the finalisation of the present litigation. It is to be hoped that this development will give the government of New Zealand cause to re-think its entire approach to shechita. This matter would never have come before a court if the NZ Minister for Agriculture had followed the recommendations of his own experts.  The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee recommended that a dispensation be allowed for the killing of animals according to schechita for domestic consumption only, not for export, and the Jewish community only seeks a dispensation for domestic consumption, not for export”

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