But as production expands, questions are being raised about whether all New Zealand meat should become halal.
Today was the first-ever meeting in New Zealand of the Muslim World Forum, a growing global organisation which looks after Muslim interests worldwide.
But the meeting was dominated by talk about a silently booming industry.
“All meat in New Zealand should be halal,” says Shiite leader Abdul Nasser. “It will cost nothing. On the contrary, it will promote the industry and make everybody not worried about whether this meat is halal or not.”
Cows and sheep killed the halal way are bled to death because Muslims consider animal blood to be impure.
A quarter of New Zealand meat exports are now halal, and Tim Ritchie of the Meat Association says New Zealanders are already eating halal meat without knowing it.
“Parts of that animal will go to a halal market, so for most of the production the halal process is there but it just may not have that certificate.”
It’s an industry the Government is backing strongly.
We are based in a part of the world Asia-Pacific region where the halal meat market is extremely important,” says Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins. “This is part of how we can continue to grow economically as a country.”
Around 80 percent of New Zealand’s red meat plants are now halal-certified.