Government to look at animal welfare issues - but will not ban rodeos

  • Hon Meka Whaitiri

There are no plans to ban rodeos in New Zealand says Hon Meka Whaitiri, Associate Minister of Agriculture, responsible for animal welfare.

“I acknowledge that there is public concern about the use of animals in rodeos, at the same time there are number of communities in New Zealand where rodeos are a well-attended annual event.

“It is absolutely essential for those involved in rodeos to have animal welfare at the forefront of their minds at all times.

“I have also asked my officials to see how we can improve animal welfare outcomes for animals used in rodeos. I have asked that the use of calves, electric prodders, flank straps, tail twisting and rope burning be specifically looked at within this work.

“The use of electric prodders, including in relation to rodeos, is already addressed in the animal welfare regulations I am currently considering. Tail twisting is not permitted under the Animal Welfare Act and tail breaking can be prosecuted.”

Rodeos must operate under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relevant codes of welfare. A code of welfare for rodeos was issued in 2014 on the advice of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the expert group that advises the Minister on animal welfare matters. The code of welfare contains minimum standards that prevent the use of pyrotechnic displays and sheep riding events at rodeos, and sets standards for animal handling and equipment. It is also a requirement to have a veterinarian and animal welfare officer present at every rodeo.

“I have asked NAWAC to fast track further advice on rodeos this year. In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) continues to enforce current animal welfare requirements, and investigates any complaints against rodeos.

“I expect all rodeo events and participants to comply fully with their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act, regulations and the code of welfare for rodeos,” says Hon Meka Whaitiri.

Rodeos code of welfare: