Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Council asked to ban rodeos, save animals

The international rodeo at Claudelands last November sold out and organisers are keen to repeat it. Photo / Supplied
The international rodeo at Claudelands last November sold out and organisers are keen to repeat it. Photo / Supplied

An animal rights group is calling on Hamilton City Council to ban rodeos from its events centres, claiming they cause stress to animals and harm them.

The Save Animals From Exploitation group has submitted a 266-signature petition urging a council ban - a move that would stop international rodeos planned at the Claudelands Event Centre.

The international rodeo moved to Hamilton for the first time last year after being run at the CBS Arena in Christchurch between 2007 and 2009.

The November 19 event was the first sellout event at the Claudelands arena, which is under pressure to boost revenue after a projected $2.6 million deficit for its first year.

The council was already contracted to host the rodeo when the Safe group asked it to reconsider hosting the event in 2011.

Safe now wants a blanket ban on events at council facilities that they believe promote animal cruelty.

Campaign manager Mandy Carter said: "People in Hamilton are really disgusted about it. It's a really cruel way to treat animals - we wouldn't do it to dogs and cats so why would we do it to cattle and horses.

"It's not right and the council should join other councils like Auckland and ban rodeos from the land."

Auckland Council banned rodeos in 2008 but 35 outdoor, one-day rodeos are held throughout the country each year including in Kihikihi, Huntly and Whangarei.

Ms Carter urged the council to think about Hamilton's reputation.

"If you want to be seen as a progressive, cosmopolitan smart city you shouldn't be allowing events like that to take place."

But Rodeo Cowboys Association board member Fred Doherty rejected claims animals were mistreated and said a strict code of conduct was followed.

"We are not answerable to Safe, we don't care what Safe say, we are answerable to the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

"We've never been in trouble, our animal welfare record is impeccable, stock is vetted in and out of the event, injuries are absolute minimal, deaths are incredibly rare and so we are completely above worry as far as that is concerned."

Mr Doherty, who is also the production manager for the international rodeo in Hamilton, said last year's event was a huge success.

"You couldn't run an event that successful and not come back."

A provisional date for the next event has been set for November.

Councillors will consider the petition on Thursday. They have been advised to defer the decision until a reviews of the council's event venue facilities policy, which will include a new ethical component, next month.

In a report to the council, social development team leader Helen Paki said there could be financial losses if the rodeo did not run at Claudelands.

Council finance and monitoring committee chairman Dave Macpherson said he felt rodeos bordered on the ethical threshold.

"I suspect a lot of other Kiwis are like that - they are not sure how much they exploit animals."

- NZ Herald

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