• $570m
    Contribution to GDP as at 2022
  • $98.0m
    Generated as profit in 2022
  • $1.2bn
    Generated as revenue in 2022
  • 5 year
    Forecast industry expansion driven by growth in higher-value procedures


In 1856, a hospital for sick horses was opened in the Hutt Valley by J.W. Woodhouse, but it wasn’t until over 100 years later, in 1962, that a formal training programme was set up for veterinarians in Aotearoa.  

Today, Aotearoa veterinary nurses support veterinarians across the motu to care for all kinds of animals, from domestic pets like cats and dogs to larger pets and farm animals such as cows and horses. In 2020, we counted 7,120 people in the veterinary nursing workforce. 

The Veterinary industry has reported ongoing problems with attracting and retaining staff. The composition of the workforce is 81% female and only 6% Māori. Relatively low pay in respect to the amount of training required; the emotionally and mentally challenging nature of the role, which can involve supporting people through animal and pet hardship and in some cases death; and cases of conflicts with customers are said to have contributed to the attraction and retention issues. With more cows in Aotearoa than people, there is a relatively high need for veterinary nurses in rural areas. However, enticing new graduates to isolated rural areas remains a challenge for the industry. 


We highlight the current key priorities and opportunities for each industry, and links back to the supporting evidence base to show why they have been selected as a priority. These opportunities will be updated on an ongoing basis as our understanding of the industry evolves and deepens.

This is our plan to address the opportunities that arose from our engagement, research and analysis. It includes real actions that we are committed to delivering – these are both industry specific and cross-cutting actions across all industries in the food and fibre sector where common themes emerged.

It includes broader areas or dependencies where external parties will need to provide input into solutions with Muka Tangata support; for example, advocacy, engagement, collaboration, and provision of specific expertise or data. We will work in collaboration with those who will need to take the lead in this area. This section will test potential solutions that we’re working on and seek feedback and input into them.