Governmental and industry representatives have repeatedly claimed that Aotearoa New Zealand leads the world on animal welfare, largely based on an assessment by global animal protection charity World Animal Protection (WAP). New Zealand’s leading ranking rested primarily on favourable comparisons of its animal welfare legislation with that of 50 other nations, within WAP’s 2014 Animal Protection Index. Unfortunately, however, review of welfare problems extant within the farming of meat chickens and laying hens, pigs, cows and sheep, reveals the persistence of systemic welfare compromises within most New Zealand animal farming systems. These are contrary to good ethics, to our duty of care toward these animals, to the wishes of domestic and international consumers, and to the interests of New Zealand’s animal production industries, which make an unusually large contribution to New Zealand’s national economy. Accordingly, and despite progress to date, this study finds that significant further resource investment and policy reform within the field of animal welfare are clearly warranted within New Zealand.