Auckland Council investigating Totora Park cow attack

Auckland Council is investigating the circumstances of a cattle attack in a park at the weekend.

A man was injured on Sunday when he went to help a woman being attacked by cows in Totara Park in South Auckland.

Auckland Councillor Daniel Newman has since raised questions about whether the leaseholder breached his agreement with the council.

Farmer Peter Linton has leased the land for 19 years.

The most recent agreement with the council was signed at the end of 2015.

It states that the licensee can only graze cattle and sheep on the land and not use it for other purposes.

All cattle on the property must be de-horned and can be no more than two years old, and bulls are prohibited.

Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor Daniel Newman said he had written to council officers to find out if those conditions were being met.

RNZ understands council staff met this morning to discuss their policies around keeping cattle on public land.

Mr Linton declined a recorded interview with RNZ, but he said he was not breaching any of the rules set out in the agreement.

He said he made the decision with the council to send the heffer and her eight-month old vealer calf to the slaughterhouse after the attack.

Even if the cows were not killed yesterday, it was likely they would have been next week, he said.

Sunday’s cattle attack occurred during calving season.

During that time, cows are typically very protective of their young and do not like people getting close.

Animal behaviour specialist Elsa Flint said during calving season cattle and the public should be separated

“They should just go into a safe zone, at least have a fence between them and the area that the people run or frequent.

“Generally, most of the animals that live in the shared spaces are very used to people and so at other times of year, I wouldn’t expect this sort of behaviour because they are used to all sorts of things going past them and around them,” Ms Flint said.

People would benefit from having signs at the entrance of the park that described how to act around a cow and what to do if the animals become agitated, she said.

An Auckland council spokeswoman said its development agency, Panuku, managed the lease and it would review the attack, including considering any necessary changes.