Position Paper July 2018

POSITION PAPER 2018: NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association


This paper is prepared by the NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association for consideration by interested parties reviewing animal welfare legislation.



The NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association has overseen and administered the sport of rodeo in New Zealand for the past forty years. Its mission statement is "to foster, protect and develop the tradition, art and sport of rodeo”.


The Association’s affiliated Clubs organise and administer over thirty annual rodeo events culminating in the national finals rodeo and the awarding of champion honours. It also provides coaching clinics, selects representative New Zealand teams and advocates for rodeo at both national and local levels.


The sport of rodeo itself has been actively pursued in New Zealand for almost sixty years. It currently has over 500 active competitors and rodeo events were viewed this past 2017/18 season by a total national spectator audience of over 100,000 people.


Rodeo’s Code of Welfare: effective and independently reviewed


The Animal Welfare Act 1999 established a legal framework for the conduct of rodeo events in New Zealand. The Rodeos Code of Welfare was consequently published in 2003, reviewed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) in 2013, and a revised edition published in October 2014.


It is important to note that there are no fewer than 18 different animal welfare codes, ranging from circuses and zoos through to the slaughter of animals and painful husbandry techniques.


It is the view of the NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association that the Rodeos Code of Welfare works extremely well. It is actively promoted by the Association and has led to significant improvements in animal welfare and handling at all rodeo events.


In 2016, a parliamentary select committee inquiry reached a similar conclusion and noted that rodeo played an important cultural role in rural New Zealand.


Rodeo events are rigorously scrutinised by veterinarians, animal welfare officers, MPI inspectors, the SPCA and rodeo officials to ensure that the Code’s minimum standards are adhered to.

Events that make up the sport of New Zealand Rodeo


The eight events that make up the sport of rodeo in New Zealand are;


• Bareback bronc riding

• Rope and tie

• Saddle bronc riding

• Barrel race

• Steer wrestling

• Team roping (header)

• Team roping (heeler)

• Bull ride


Both male and females compete in rodeo events and there are specific junior events for competitors aged under 15 years. The oldest active competitors in New Zealand are aged in their seventies.


Rodeo competitors also compete as New Zealand representatives in events in Australia and the United States, and 2016/17 rookie of the year Tegan O’Callaghan competed in the world rodeo championships. There is an annual high school challenge between New Zealand and Australia.



Ministerial/MPI Review



NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association support any independent review of our sport and any informed suggestions on improving animal welfare at our events.


We believe that the existing Code works well, and that any animal injuries, as rare as they are, are due neither to poor practice nor handling techniques.


We acknowledge that anti-rodeo groups misrepresent our sport and practices but they have a much wider agenda around animal rights. Our response is to publicly correct their misinformation and offer the opportunity to our critics to attend our events.


That said we will always work collaboratively with the Minister, Parliament, MPI and government agencies to improve any education, training and event practices that have positive outcomes for animals and competitors alike.



Lyal Cocks


NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association