Protesters slam North Canterbury Hunting Competition after kids parade dead cats, shout 'meat, meat, meat' at them

Protesters at a Christchurch hunting competition are furious after they were confronted by children shouting "meat, meat, meat" and taunting them with dead cats. 

But organisers of the event have hit back, saying the protesters provoked the incident, claiming the demonstrators called the kids "murderers". 

The controversial North Canterbury Hunting Competition went ahead on Sunday, drawing thousands of people from all around the country, with an array of pests targeted.

But it was the feral cats attracting all the controversy, with each dead cat equalling one entry into a prize draw of $500. 

The competition previously cancelled the feral cat killing section earlier this year after furious backlash amid fears someone's pet could die during the proposed event.

However, the section has since been reinstated with new rules - this time only allowing adults to compete as opposed to children 14 and under, like previously.

A video obtained by Newshub, filmed by the protesters at the competition, shows a group of kids shouting "meat, meat, meat" as they paraded the dead cats. 

Protesters slam North Canterbury Hunting Competition after kids parade dead cats, shout 'meat, meat, meat' at them
Photo credit: Supplied

Christchurch Animal Save organiser Sarah Jackson told Newshub a lot of the children, some as young as seven, were taunting her protest group with dead cats.

"After the children had their fun running around with deceased rabbits, baby pigs, and possums on their backs, they weren't shy to retrieve the deceased cats and taunt us with them," Jackson said. 

"They pulled on the limbs of these animals and swung them around while laughing with each other." 

Jackson added the protesters had to leave the event after more than 100 children started chanting at them. 

She told Newshub she feels "sympathy" for the children as they have been brainwashed in the environment they were brought up in.  

"I can relate to the brainwashing involved when being raised in an environment where it's well-accepted to expose children to hunted animals and then marvel at the heads of animals hanging from the wall some months later," she said. 

"If the parents are showing the children that it's okay to commit violence toward the animals, they too will often do the same." 

The organiser of the hunting competition was quick to hit back telling NZ Herald the protesters were calling the kids "murderers". 

"I asked one of the kids what was happening and they said 'they've been calling us murderers'," Matt Bailey said.

"My take on it, was that [they] (the protesters) sort of provoked it. They came up here to us and I don't think people take too kindly to others calling their kids murderers. It's a bit of a shame that they had to do that."

Bailey previously told Newshub on Sunday the farmers in the area are sick of the feral cats. 

"We're all sick of them, they're a problem up here and they're destroying our native bush and animals," he said. 

The competition caused large debate when it first came to light back in April, with Newshub journalist Patrick Gower defending the tournament saying feral cats "need to be shot", "run over" and "wiped off the face of Aotearoa". 

Jackson said the competition as a whole is a "disgrace" to New Zealand and is glorifying the killing of innocent animals.

"The competition as a whole is a disgrace to our nation and the most disrespectful display of actions when considering the animals involved," Jackson said.  

"The hunters are boasting about being famous due to the global attention this event received, but it's for all of the wrong reasons. 

"Aotearoa needs to catch up with other developed countries where we look to more sustainable practices for combatting the current issue, rather than senseless killing for fun." 

The competition even went viral, with the BBC and New York Post reporting on it and British comedian Ricky Gervais pouring scorn on it.

Will Appelbe, a spokesperson for animal rights group SAFE, said in a statement there was "still a significant risk" someone's pet cat would be killed.

"At the end of the day, [there] is little to no difference in the physical appearance of feral, stray and pet cats.

"There are far more effective strategies to protect native wildlife from cats like mandatory desexing, registration and microchipping."

SAFE was calling for better funding of cat rescue and adoption programmes.

"Indiscriminately killing cats considered feral and wild is inherently cruel and not a realistic solution," Appelbe said.

It's estimated there are up to 2.5 million feral cats in New Zealand, and they kill kiwi, kākāpō, and our native skinks.