The Green Party is describing a proposed new welfare code as a victory for the poultry industry, but disastrous for hens.
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee's new code for layer hens recommends that cages used by 88% of egg producers be phased out.
A date for the move has not yet been decided.
The committee says cages used by most farmers at present do not allow hens to fully stand.
Green MP Sue Kedgley says New Zealand should follow Austria and Germany and set a date for completely phasing out cages, because that is what consumers want.
Submissions on the draft animal welfare code for layer hens close on 25 March.