Bette Overell founded NZAVS in 1978 after being inspired by the work of Hans Ruesch, a famous Swiss medical historian whose book "Slaughter of the Innocent" brought to light the misleading, dangerous and fraudulent practice of animal experiments.

Bette was born in Warrington, U.K. and moved to Aotearoa in 1947. She lived in Wellington with her husband John, and their home acted as NZAVS headquarters until they retired.

Motivated by the growing number of international scientists, doctors, veterinarians and societies calling for an end to animal experimentation, Bette soon established a large number of members and supporters determined to make vivisection illegal in NZ.

Some of the incredible milestones NZAVS achieved under Bette's leadership:

1984 - NZAVS presented its 1st petition to Parliament. This petition, supported by doctors and scientists from around the world, called for the abolition of the LD50 Test.

1985 - NZAVS distributed computer software for the simulation of certain animal tests to all NZ medical schools and universities, asking them for feedback.

1987 - NZAVS launched its 2nd petition calling for the abolition of vivisection, which received 100,640 signatures. This was before social media, making it a huge achievement.

1989 - This petition was presented to Parliament on 24 April, along with hundreds of submissions.

1991 - A parliamentary hearing took place for submissions on the petition to abolish vivisection in NZ.

1992 - NZAVS launched a national campaign against General Motors, Michigan, which had done crash tests using live pigs instead of human dummies since 1956. NZAVS organized spectacular marches in Wellington to mark World Day for Lab Animals from 1980 to 1992.  Similar marches were held in other centres.

1993 - Bette Overell published her book Animal Research Takes Lives - Humans and Animals Both Suffer to refute the false claims made by the Ministry of Agriculture in its booklet Animal Research Saves Lives.

At age 83, our fierce and incredible Founder, Bette passed away on the 11th of August 2007.

Bette left an invaluable legacy behind, she built the foundations of NZAVS with love and compassion and her work will forever contribute to all future victories of NZAVS.

Rest in power, Bette.

View more photos of some of the many actions Bette organised below.

NZAVS Historic Images

Our Team:

With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.