News Blog Articles Open letter to the New Zealand Government calling for an urgent ban on rodeo events

Open letter to the New Zealand Government calling for an urgent ban on rodeo events

January 28th, 2019

We, the undersigned, urge the Labour-led Government to uphold Labour’s pre-election promise to ban the use of flank straps, calves under 12 months of age, electric prods, and rope burning at rodeo events. 

The signatories below represent a broad range of expertise in veterinary medicine, animal behaviour, animal welfare, and animal law, and believe rodeo events are of great concern. The physical pain and emotional distress that these practices inflict on animals are not only cruel but at odds with the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Rodeo events are brutal and often disturbing exhibitions of human domination over animals, showing rodeo to be an outdated and cruel spectacle. Otherwise docile bulls and horses are induced into aggressive behaviour by painful or irritating means such as flank straps, electric prods, and rope burning.

Video evidence has shown that young calves may be repeatedly slapped and riled up by handlers before being forced to perform. Injuries inflicted upon animals include torn ligaments, broken bones, and severe bruising. Two horses and a bull have been killed at rodeos already this season.

This treatment of animals breaches our country’s animal welfare laws. The New Zealand Animal Welfare Act states that physical handling of an animal should be performed in a manner that minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

A 2018 report by barrister Catriona MacLennan stated that the way animals are used in rodeos contravenes the basic purposes and protections of the Animal Welfare Act.

Rodeos are banned in several countries where they were once held, and specific events are outlawed in others, due to their inherent cruelty. Even our Government’s advisors, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, stated recently that calf roping and steer wrestling have ‘substantial negative impacts’ on animals.

New Zealand is a country that has made bold decisions to stand up for our values and for justice in many areas. We urge the progressive, Labour-led Government to make good on their pre-election promises to end these cruel practices that allow animals to suffer injury and/or death in the name of entertainment.


  1. Bob Kerridge ONZM, KStJ, JP, FNZIM, BAppAnTech., Animal Welfarist
  2. Dr Jane Goodall DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace
  3. Catriona MacLennan, Barrister, Animal Agenda Aotearoa
  4. Cassandra Kenworthy LLB (Hons), BSc, Vice President New Zealand Animal Law Association
  5. Dr Melanie Vivian, CEO & Co-Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand
  6. Ben Pearson, Senior Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection
  7. Prof. Annie Potts, Director New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies, University of Canterbury
  8. Prof. Philip Armstrong, President of the Australasian Animal Studies Association (AASA), University of Canterbury
  9. Dr Jean-Jacques Kona-Boun DVM, MSc, DACVAA
  10. Dr Nicki Shackleton BSc, BVSc (Distinction), DACVP (Clinical Veterinary Pathology)
  11. Dr Jess Beer BVSc, MANZCVS (Veterinary Behaviour), Kiwi Vet Behaviour 
  12. Dr Rhea Hurley BVSc, MANZCVS (Veterinary Behaviour), Practice Director Vet Smart 
  13. Dr Peggy W. Larson DVM, MS, JD
  14. Dr Estelle Louarduzzi BVSc, MANZCVS (Small Animal Medicine)
  15. Dr Rosalind Holland BVSc, MVM, MANZCVS (Emergency and Critical Care)
  16. Dr Sarah Dodd BVSc, MSc
  17. Dr James Wickham BVSc, Practice Director CoroVets
  18. Dr Lyndell Olley BSc (Hons), BVSc
  19. Dr Berend Westera BVSc, BD
  20. M. B. Rodriguez Ferrere, Faculty of Law, University of Otago
  21. Dr Alain Roy, Professor of Law
  22. Prof. Peter Sankoff, Professor of Law
  23. Dr Clive Dalton, Agricultural Scientist, retired
  24. Dr Marc Bekoff PhD, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Signatories added following publication

  • Dr Emily Lewis BVSc 


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