NZVA History Wall

1923 - 2023

Scroll through the rich history of the veterinary trade in New Zealand

Help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NZVA by sharing your memories and milestones of the veterinary profession in New Zealand. If you have a significant event or photo to share, please email us at




New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) formed with 26 foundation members; Chief Veterinary Officer CV Reakes was the first President; NZVA was active in promoting compulsory veterinary registration based on educational qualifications


Case book of vet in Balclutha shows many calls for calving, metabolic disease, turnip poisoning, lameness and colic in horses


Veterinary Surgeons Act passed; and the Veterinary Surgeons Board was formed for the compulsory registration of veterinarians, including those who had been practising for 10 years or more. 

48 veterinary practitioners and 52 qualified veterinary surgeons were registered; veterinarians trained in British and Australian veterinary schools, as well as graduates from Pretoria and Ottawa veterinary schools and others with equivalent training


Melbourne Veterinary School closed




Animal Health Notes by Wallaceville staff published 

Calcium borogluconate used to treat hypocalcaemia/milk fever

Cobalt deficiency identified as cause of ill thrift in sheep


Stock Act lists scheduled diseases


Swine fever outbreak in the Wellington area caused by offal from an overseas ship; controlled by slaughter and disinfection


Classical Swine Fever outbreak occurred and controlled

First recorded cases of salmonellosis in pigs

Stock Remedies Board first formed

Hypomagnesaemia described in grass fed cattle


Artificial Insemination services investigated by Tom Blake, a government veterinarian


New Zealand Government sends six bursars to Sydney Veterinary School; they graduate in 1938

Diseases of Breeding Ewes by Leslie published


Allan Leslie:
"Ye canna ca ye self a vet until ye've filled a paddock fu o deid coos"
Started the traditional veterinary club movement at Eltham


Model contract of employment for veterinary clubs developed by NZVA

Meat Act passed

Ruakura Research Station established




Copper deficiency disease identified in cattle and sheep

Eradication of tuberculosis from many town milk supply herds


Training camps for mounted regiments held in New Zealand


Dominion Federation of Farmer Veterinary Services Inc established to coordinate veterinary clubs

Joint Veterinary Committee of the Dairy and Meat Producer Boards provide bursaries to train veterinarians at Sydney University; no women included!

Pigs: their feeding and Diseases by Leslie published


11 veterinarians arrived from Britain 14 bursaries awarded

Geographical Branches of NZVA established

Veterinary club for meat and wool producers established at Gisborne

16 bursaries awarded

Around 100 veterinarians in New Zealand, mostly in government service

Trentham Veterinary Laboratory (later Tasman Vaccine Laboratories, now SKF) established

Recruitment of veterinarians from Britain, Canada, The Netherlands and Denmark


Mandatory pasteurisation of town milk to control human infection from bovine tuberculosis

Veterinary Services Council formed, replacing the Dominion Federation of Farmer Veterinary Services Inc


First report of excessive teeth wear in sheep

New Zealand Veterinary Corps disbanded

Report on the use of penicillin in small animals in New Zealand published


First recorded cases of salmonellosis in cattle

Most common cause of bovine mastitis was Strep agalactiae


Commercial Artificial Insemination services available in the Waikato and Taranaki

First recorded cases of salmonellosis in sheep

Penicillin used to treat mastitis in cattle




No feline vaccines

First humane slaughter regulations for New Zealand

NZVA recommended fees

Bitch spays 3 - 4 guineas
Cat castration 15 shillings (including anaesthetic)
Cat spays 2 guineas
Surgery consultations 10 shillings and 6 pence
Visits 10 shillings and 6 pence, plus mileage of 1 shilling each way after the first two miles


Two registered veterinary surgeons and three registered veterinary practitioners (not university trained) in clinical practice in Auckland

Eight women registered as veterinary surgeons in New Zealand

Leptospira pomona identified as the cause of haemoglobinuria in a calf

Ovine brucellosis, a cause of epididymitis and abortion, identified


Bursary for veterinary students $430 pa; salary for veterinarian $950, rising to $1800 by the end of the decade; partial bursary repayments $200 pa

Dairy veterinary clubs - one vet per 12,000 dairy cows; 50,000 km per year

Distemper immunisation achieved by simultaneous inoculation of antiserum and live virus!

Veterinary pharmacy contains nux vomica, zingiber, plaster of paris bandages, thermometers, pestle and mortar, calcium borogluconate, magnesium sulphate, Nembutal, ether, chloroform, iodine, zinc sulphate, M&B 693 (sulphadimidine), chloral hydrate etc.


Compulsory tuberculosis testing of town milk supply herds; 7.7% reactor rate


Animal Industry Division of the Department of Agriculture established

First issue of New Zealand Veterinary Journal (NZVJ) - Editor, Jim Newhook

First report of Campylobacter (Vibrio) abortion in sheep

First report of Johne's Disease in sheep

Scrapie first diagnosed in New Zealand (eradicated by 1957)


NZVA office in Hamilton with Tommy Thompson as Secretary


First report of periodontal disease in sheep

Most recent outbreak of Classical Swine Fever; eliminated by slaughter


Elizabeth Veterinary Benevolent Fund established

First report of Toxoplasma abortion in sheep


Ruakura Diagnostic Station established

Clinical veterinary services available to almost all livestock owners in New Zealand


Infectious disease identified as the major cause of mortality in young dogs

Lead poisoning in dogs identified

Macrocarpa poisoning identified as a cause of bovine abortion

Scrapie introduced with a shipment of Suffolk sheep; eliminated by slaughter of imported animals and associated bloodlines

Veterinary Surgeons Act rewritten; system for the registration of veterinarians virtually unchanged


Selenium discovered to be an essential trace element


NZVA published the first edition of the Veterinary Handbook

Tuberculosis testing of factory herds introduced


Hydatids Act to control Echinococcus granulosa (hydatids)

Taieri Diagnostic Station established

The cause of facial eczema identified as a fungal toxin




Dieldrin identified as a cause of poisoning in dogs

Manktelow identified Pityrosporum canis (now Malassezia sp) as an inhabitant of the canine ear canal and a potential pathogen


Development of exclusively small animal practices in cities such as Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington

Veterinarians involved with developing heart valve transplant techniques in Auckland

Most common cause of bovine mastitis was Staph aureus


Compulsory tuberculosis testing of all dairy cattle


Ira Cunningham appointed Foundation Dean of the Veterinary Faculty at Massey University

Export game industry established

Ros Baxter opens modern small animal facility in Auckland


Animal Health Division and Meat Division formed from the Animal Industry Division of the Department of Agriculture

Veterinary Advisory Officer positions established


‘Contract' practice introduced to veterinary clubs


One female veterinary undergraduate at Massey University

First Ram Soundness seminar

Introduction of thiabendazole, the first systemic anthelmintic for livestock

Veterinary Faculty opened at Massey University


Massey University Clinical Services Unit established


Compulsory vaccination of heifer calves with Brucella abortus strain 19 vaccine


NZVA Hip Dysplasia scheme established

21 students completed the BVSc course at Massey University

Hemobartonella felis identified in New Zealand

Lloyd Whitten became Editor of the NZVJ

Tuberculosis diagnosed in a possum

Whangarei Diagnostic Station established

Animal Remedies Act passed


Lincoln Diagnostic Station established


The five Diagnostic Stations consolidated into the Animal Health Laboratory network

New Zealand Women's Veterinary Auxiliary established

Thiamine deficiency identified as a cause of nervous disease in working dogs

Voluntary brucellosis test and slaughter policy introduced




Mannosidosis identified in New Zealand cattle

Sheep Branch, later the Society of Sheep and Beef Cattle Veterinarians, of the NZVA formed

Tuberculosis first diagnosed in feral deer


Part time veterinary nursing course established at Auckland Polytechnic (now AIT)

Deer farming established in New Zealand

Veterinary nursing scheme established in Auckland

About 6% of veterinary undergraduates at Massey were women


Studies at Massey on the equine larynx including laryngeal hemiplegia


Australian College of Veterinary Scientists founded

Compulsory brucellosis test and slaughter policy introduced

Tower Block of the Massey Veterinary School opened

Trials of a respiratory vaccine against feline herpes virus infection


Small Animal Society (SAS) formed

Commencement of control of infected possum populations

Compulsory tuberculosis testing of all cattle

Start of national eradication programme of bovine brucellosis using CFT


Central Animal Health Reference laboratory established at Wallaceville

First survey of lameness in dairy cattle

Palmerston North Animal Health Laboratory established, initially at Massey and then at the Batchelar Homestead

NZVA Foundation for Continuing Education (VetLearn) established


Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons approves Massey veterinary course

Scrapie diagnosed in imported sheep; eliminated by slaughter of imported animals and associated bloodlines


Feline infectious peritonitis reported in New Zealand


Culmination of 2½ years trial of Planned Animal Health and Production Services in the Waikato - 13% financial gain

NZVA produced a Companion Animal Report for the New Zealand Local Bodies Association


Aujeszky's Disease in pigs diagnosed and eradicated


All cattle herds under test for tuberculosis

First published report of an inherited disease in a specific breed of dog in New Zealand Introduction of pre-slaughter stunning

Michael Berwyn-Jones became Editor of the NZVJ

Executive Office of NZVA moved to Wellington; contact with Federated Farmers, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, producer boards et al, also politicians, established


New Zealand commenced an eight year period of running workshops in animal disease control for the developing countries of South-East Asia

Tuberculosis first diagnosed in farmed deer


Canine parvovirus first reported in New Zealand Cat leprosy reported

Cats identified as the definitive host for Sarcocystis spp First report of anthelmintic resistance in sheep

Introduction of a leptospiral vaccine for cattle




30% of veterinary undergraduates at Massey University were women

Graham Meadows became Editor of the NZVJ


Endophyte identified as the cause of ryegrass staggers in sheep and other species

Yersiniosis first diagnosed in deer


Malignant catarrhal fever first reported in farmed deer

Mannosidosis control programme completed


After-hours service established in Auckland

New edition of the Veterinary Handbook, edited by Bill Manktelow, published

New Zealand declared free of Brucella abortus


Centre for Veterinary Continuing Education established in the Veterinary School by collaborative agreement between Massey University and NZVA/VetLearn

Gunner Peterson appointed as the first full time Director of the Centre for Veterinary Continuing Education

Last isolation of Salmonella pullorum from poultry Voluntary control of tuberculosis in deer herds


Animal Health Services Centre established within the Veterinary Faculty

Botulism reported in a dog resident near Hamilton Lake

Equine Blood Typing and Research Centre established within the Veterinary Faculty

First private veterinary diagnostic laboratory established in Auckland (by Mike James)

Julie Lord became Editor of the NZVJ

Veterinary Services Council in abeyance


MAF reorganised into four services; further changes saw the division of policy and delivery services

Veterinary Professional Insurance Society Inc (VPIS) established to provide indemnity and public liability insurance for the veterinary profession and NZVA members

Report of vesicular stomatitis in pigs caused by the phytotoxin furanocoumarin

Toxacara canis identified as the cause of retinal disease in rural dogs

Toxoplasma vaccine developed


Animal Health Laboratory established at Lynfield, Auckland


First issue of VetScript


Second International Conference of Sheep Veterinarians held in New Zealand

Feline immunodeficiency virus infection reported

Major causes of dairy cattle lameness identified as poor raceways and poor animal handling




Andrew Keber became Editor of the NZVJ

SAS renamed Companion Animal Society (CAS) and became a Special Interest Branch of NZVA

Restarted CAS newsletter; Editor, Boyd Jones

CAS practice standards started by Nick Twyford Compulsory tuberculosis testing of deer herds


National code of practice for velvet antler removal in deer developed

Neospora canis identified as a cause of bovine abortion

New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association becomes an NZVA associate member


Best Friend Feline Nutritional Research Unit established within the Veterinary Faculty

830 veterinarians in clinical practice


330 women registered as veterinary surgeons in New Zealand; 1900 total registrants

Biosecurity Act passed to prevent introduction of disease and to enable disease surveillance and management


Veterinarians Act passed; Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) established with emphasis on public protection; specialist registration permissible

VCNZ takes over ownership of Code of Professional Conduct (COPC) from NZVA


Survey of anaesthetic machines in small animal practice - malfunctions found in over 90%

Wildlife Branch of the NZVA published Kokako, a twice-yearly bulletin


Emergence of Salmonella Brandenburg as a significant cause of abortion in sheep

Last reported case of Echinococcus granulosa (hydatids) in sheep


Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act - veterinarians who were registered in Australia recognised for registration in New Zealand and vice versa

66% of veterinary undergraduates at Massey were women

Bartonella henselae, the cause of cat scratch fever identified in New Zealand

Report of a major epidemiological survey of lower urinary tract disease in cats

Jan Fog became Editor of CAS newsletter

Companion Animal Health Foundation launched


Janice Thompson became Editor of CAS newsletter

Massey University Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre established

National Quality Veterinary Services (NQVS) established by NZVA


MAF reorganised into four services; further changes saw the division of policy and delivery services

Australasian Veterinary Boards Council established to promote harmonisation of New Zealand and Australian occupational regulatory standards; visits and makes accreditation recommendations on all Australasian vet schools; assesses and makes recommendations on all Australasian applications for specialist registration

Gunner Peterson became Editor of the NZVJ

Peter Jolly became Editor of the NZVJ




New Zealand Oiled Wildlife Response Strategy described


Enactment of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act1997


Survey of dogs - 14% showed serological evidence of leptospirosis

New Zealand Food Safety Authority established


3rd Pan Commonwealth veterinary conference held in New Zealand

VetLearn publishing division started and SciQuest online searchable library was launched



First VetScholar online course launched as a pilot by NZVA/VetLearn


Veterinarians Act 2005 - new competency provisions, limited scopes of practice, public Register of Veterinarians, minimum practising requirements for the issue of a practising certificate, conditions on practice

VetScholar was officially launched by NZVA/VetLearn as an online learning medium


New Zealand Three Rs Programme established for the replacement, reducing and refinement of animals used in research, testing and teaching

NZVA purchased premises in Wellington CBD (in partnership with VetLearn and VPIS)


NZVA/VetLearn build integrated database

NZVA/CAS launched New Zealand Companion Animal Register

VCNZ introduced minimum practising standards - fitness to practice, recency of practice and reporting on continuing professional development activities


New Graduate Rural Bonding Scheme introduced by National Government (limited rural areas)

NZVA/VetLearn and University of Sydney, Centre for Veterinary Education (formerly PGF) built new web platform


NZVA/CAS successful in its bid to host WSAVA 2013 in New Zealand

NZVA/Society of Sheep and Beef Cattle Veterinarians win the right to host the 2013 International Sheep Veterinary Congress for the second time

New Graduate Rural Bonding Scheme expanded to all rural areas VCNZ publishes first veterinarian workforce analysis




Amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 increased penalties and created a new offence of 'reckless ill-treatment of an animal'

NZVA built website for Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)

Latest recipients of Queen's Birthday Honours: Dr Wallace Niederer for services to equine veterinary science (MNZM) Dr Jim Edwards for services to the veterinary profession and community (ONZM) Dr Peter O'Hara for services to animal health and welfare (MNZM)


Massey University's Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT), a specialist team of veterinary professionals and the first of its kind in Australasia, assisted in complex animal rescues and veterinary treatment following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake

VCNZ introduced compulsory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements

Rinderpest declared to be formally eradicated from the world following joint efforts by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Work continues to ensure rinderpest remains a disease of the past

VCNZ introduces revised Code of Professional Conduct

NZVA launched a new online learning technology ‘webinars' to connect members around the country and world for live-streamed CPD presentations

The veterinary profession around the world celebrates World Veterinary Year 2011 (Vet2011): 250 years of veterinarians working to improve human and animal health and welfare worldwide

Hon David Carter officially recognises the significant contributions veterinarians make during Vet2011 celebrations

Ann Leighton, New Zealand's first registered female veterinarian died

Latest recipients of Queen's Birthday Honours: Dr Paul Livingstone for services to veterinary science (QSO) Dr John Hellstrom for services to biosecurity (ONZM)

Dr Barry O'Neill awarded the OIE gold medal for his significant contribution to the workings of OIE, responsible for improving animal health worldwide

Massey's Wildbase, previously the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre, was heavily involved in the clean up and rehabilitation of wildlife following the Rena ship grounding in the Bay of Plenty

2011 NZVA Conference brought together all major special interest branches into this one multi-streamed event - a huge success


Dr David Bayvel was appointed a QSO for services to the state in animal welfare

Latest recipients of Queen's Birthday Honours: Dr Ron Gibson for services to veterinary science (ONZM) Dr David Mossman for services to veterinary science (QSM)

Degrees given to the first graduates of Massey University's Bachelor of Veterinary Technology programme (BVetTech)

NZVA and Ministry for Primary Industries (formerly Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) release Animal Welfare Toolkits for veterinarians and farmers

Dr Petra Muellner became Editor-in-Chief of the NZVJ

Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations - NZVA Veterinary Resource Manager, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visited Massey University for tours of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Wildbase and the Equestrian Centre


Massey University celebrates 50 years of veterinary education in New Zealand

New Zealand hosts the 8th International Sheep Veterinary Congress

The 38th World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) annual congress is hosted by New Zealand for the first time


The Holistic Society was renamed the Complementary Veterinary Medicine Branch of the NZVA

National Cat Management Strategy Group formed to develop a national overarching strategy for responsible, compassionate, and humane management of cats in New Zealand


Mycoplasma bovis discovered in New Zealand by a veterinarian in Canterbury


New regulations under the Act came into effect that made tail docking for companion animals, unless for therapeutic purposes, an illegal activity and that only veterinarians could dock tails.

The first equine ambulance is deployed by the New Zealand Horse Ambulance Trust. The NZ Equine Veterinary Association is a founding organization in the Horse Ambulance trust.


The NZ Equine Veterinary Association changed its structure from a regional base to a centralized system, aided by the upsurge in video conferencing

NZ Equine Veterinary Association challenges MPI about the regulations affecting significant surgical procedures within the Animal Welfare Act. This resulted in tightening up of regulations concerning the ability of non-veterinarians to remove equine teeth.

Thierella equi incursion occurred resulting in a large-scale response from the NZ Equine Veterinary Association to eradicate this disease




COVID-19 arrived in New Zealand

The World Veterinary Association Congress due to be held in New Zealand in March was cancelled and the Congress was taken online.

Help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NZVA by sharing your memories and milestones of the veterinary profession in New Zealand. If you have a significant event or photo to share, please email us at