Position Paper 12 May 2017






Rodeo in New Zealand occupies an important and popular role in many regional and rural areas. It continues to offer top quality family-friendly entertainment along with outstanding displays of cowboy skill and stockmanship.


Despite the claims of some misguided and misinformed animal activists, the truth is that rodeo animals do not suffer in NZ Rodeo Cowboy organised events.


Indeed there is an overwhelming scientific and research evidence that modern rodeos remain one of the safest and most entertaining of public entertainments. There is far more risk of injury to the participants than the animals!


TheAnimal Welfare Act 1999 established strict principles for the conduct of rodeos and the treatment of animals. This legislation created the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee which is responsible for administering and updating the Rodeo Code of Welfare.

The Rodeo Code is a detailed guide as to what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable with regards to animals involved at our rodeos, and we fully endorse its commonsense and scientific approach. The Code was updated in October 2014.


Under intense pressure from some animal activist groups, the House of Representatives conducted its own inquiry into rodeos and animal welfare in 2016.


Parliament’s primary production committee concluded that "rodeos are one of the many competitive events that occur in rural communities, and that they play an important part in building and maintaining the cohesion of these communities.”


Having failed to provide any scientific evidence that could substantiate their allegations, and having failed to convince Parliament to ban rodeos, or the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to present any negative findings, some animal activists are now targeting rodeo event sponsors and releasing selective footage to sympathetic media personnel.


Having failed to convince scientists, parliamentarians and those responsible for animal welfare that their evidence is correct, their latest tactic is to bully and mislead.


Indeed, recent scientific studies – peer reviewed and academically published – relating to animal welfare and rodeo management, do not find any long-lasting effects for the animals involved.


These include recent academic studies including a University of Queensland paper on calf-roping (April 2016) and a University of Calgary study on bucking bulls in rodeos (August 2016). The latter concluded that such bulls exhibit no fear at all.


The NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association strongly supports existing animal welfare legislation and its updated Codes and practice.


In addition, veterinarians are now required, by law, to be present at all our rodeo events and to regularly assess animal welfare. There have been recent glowing reports from veterinarians as to how our member rodeo clubs are meeting their animal welfare responsibilities.


Our membership is always open to reviewing any rodeo practices that might be considered harmful, but we note that none have been so found by the relevant animal welfare authorities.


NZ Rodeo’s aim is always to produce high quality family entertainment and events. Our participants demonstrate their extraordinary skills and courage to widespread and popular acclaim. Harming any of the animals involved would be directly counter-productive to these aims.


We thank you New Zealanders, and especially our sponsors and rural communities, for their ongoing support and patronage.


NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association will be taking a much more proactive and educational role in promoting rodeo’s virtues and entertainment appeal. We will be letting the country know what a great, family-based entertainment event that New Zealand rodeo truly is.



Michael Laws

National Spokesperson

NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association

12 May 2017