The history of the Royal New Zealand SPCA
The organisation was founded in England in 1824 (without the "royal" prefix) as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; it was established by a group of 22 reformers led by Richard Martin MP, William Wilberforce MP, and the Reverend Arthur Broome in "Old Slaughter's Coffee House", St Martin's Lane, near the Strand, London. The foundation is marked by a plaque on the modern day building at 77-78 St Martin's Lane.
The society was the first animal welfare charity to be founded in the world. It was granted its royal status by Queen Victoria in 1840 to become the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In the late 1830s the society began the tradition of the RSPCA inspector, which is the image best known of the organisation today.
Along with other things British, the early settlers brought with them the laws of England, and thus the English Protection of Animals Act 1835 became part of our law. In 1872 the first SPCA was formed in Canterbury, quickly followed by the other main centres, and the English Protection of Animals Act 1835 was replaced in 1878 by the first New Zealand Act protecting animals.
In 1933, the various separate Societies decided to amalgamate as a Federation. Out of this has grown the national organisation known as the Royal New Zealand SPCA. Gradually, smaller communities established their own branches until today there are 47 local SPCAs throughout the country.