15 October 2018



Monday, 15 October 2018




Independent researchers see through the smoke

and make important observations that will improve rodeo



NZ Rodeo & Cowboys president Lyal Cocks said today that his organisation "welcome and support the latest report of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) on rodeo procedures and practises and we pledge our ongoing co-operation to improving all aspects of animal welfare in our great sport.”


" Despite calls from animal activists to ban all rodeo events, it is clear that the policy aim is to improve our sport’s standards. That’s a serious shift in emphasis, and we welcome it.”


Mr Cocks said that NZ Rodeo had already put in place "significant welfare changes for this coming season.” [see attached Executive Summary]


" It’s important to us that rodeos are competitive events and that also means providing top-class family entertainment. It would be fair to say that the greatest risk will always be to the human competitors, rather than the animals.”


" NAWAC’s emphasis is on a self-regulatory regime operating within our current rodeo framework, and we think that’s exactly the right prescription.”

Mr Cocks noted that "the more outrageous allegations being made by animal activists around tail twisting, the illegal use of electric prods and the illegal use of flank straps – have been correctly exposed by NAWAC as already illegal. The law already exists to punish that behaviour, but we note that there were NO prosecutions the last rodeo season. Not one.”


Mr Cocks said that SAFE and other anti-rodeo groups will continue to protest "irrespective of whatever NAWAC or ourselves achieve in improving rodeo safety and practices.”

" They have a wider agenda. They want all animal sport banned including greyhound racing, horse racing, and equestrian events. Even zoos.


" Meanwhile we will get on with showcasing our sport’s amazing skills and continuing our conversations on how we can make rodeo even better.”






Contact: President Lyal Cocks

NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association

027 438 1443



NAWAC reports released publicly today ….




·NAWAC Letter to Minister, Hon Meka Whaitiri

(31 May 2018)

·NAWAC Report

‘Rodeo events – How do they impact the sentient animal?

(May 2018)



Also attached:


Executive Summary: NAWAC Report 2018 & NZ Rodeo Welfare Changes





The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is an independent agency established under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to provide independent advice to the government minister responsible for animal welfare.


NAWAC is made up of a chairperson, the chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, and up to 9 other members. Members are chosen for their expertise and need a range of knowledge and experience including - veterinary science; agricultural science; animal science; the commercial use of animals; the care, breeding and management of companion animals; ethical standards and conduct in respect of animals;

animal welfare advocacy; understanding of the public's interest in animals; and environmental and conservation management.


The current chairperson is Dr Gwyneth Verkerk, a retired veterinarian from Hamilton, with an extensive national and international career in animal science.


NAWAC oversees 18 different animal welfare codes of practice and last reviewed the sport of rodeo in 2014.


NAWAC was asked by incoming associate agriculture minister Hon Meka Whaitiri to inquire into specific allegations, made by SAFE and other animal activist groupings, relating to the conduct of rodeo events in New Zealand.


The key conclusions that NAWAC in its 2018 report are –



1. That the alleged acts of animal cruelty inflicted at rodeo events, allegations made by SAFE and other animal activists, are actually covered by existing law and, by implication, should have been reported and prosecuted by independent vets, MPI official or animal welfare officers attending those rodeos, if they had actually occurred;


2. That rodeo in New Zealand should be self-regulating and NAWAC recommends non-regulatory actions aimed at achieving that end;


3. That specific rodeo events – from barrel racing to the controversial rope and tie – have options that may improve animal welfare, but none include outright banning of the event;



4. That further research is required to assess the actual extent of animal injuries in rodeo events, and that will involve the euthanisation of some competing animals to achieve that purpose.



NZ Rodeo and Cowboys’ Response

Since the 2017/18 rodeo season, the NZ Rodeo and Cowboys Association have further examined their internal practices and procedures relating to animal welfare at their sanctioned events.


The Board of NZ Rodeo and Cowboys have sanctioned the following reforms that will improve animal welfare at 2018/19 events.


1. Reduced the time limit for Rope & Tie runs from 60 to 30 seconds

2. Only one run down the arena for Rope & Tie events

3. Neck catches only in Rope & tie

4. Removed the 6-second tie requirement in Rope & tie

5. Only contract calves to be used in Rope & Tie

6. NO handling of animal tails under any circumstances

7. The introduction of Contractors’ Agreements

8. Calf untiers must be experienced and speedy

9. Judges will strictly enforce Rule 12.4.25 and any perceived mistreatment of competing animals

10.Increased minimum weight of calves for calf rides to 200 kgs

11.Formal arena inspections to be completed by Board appointee

12.Horses to be neck tied in the chute (improving safety)



In addition, NZ Rodeo has pledged its ongoing co-operation with NAWAC and independent animal welfare agencies for the purpose of ensuring the highest professional standards of animal care.



For further technical information, please contact President Lyal Cocks.