Hawke's Bay rodeos are attracting growing criticism toward the sport but rodeo members say their animal welfare practices are above board.

Animal advocacy group SAFE has called for a nationwide boycott of rodeos this weekend, two of which are being held in Hawke's Bay.

This follows protests earlier this month outside a Whangarei rodeo, and a postponed Warkworth rodeo by members of the Direct Animal Action group.

New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association president Marty Deans said SAFE could challenge them as much as it liked but the association was operating within the "laws of the land".


"It's their personal opinion, they perceive what they think happens at rodeos ... we have a code of welfare from MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] and we abide by that."

SAFE urged residents to boycott the Wairoa rodeo on Saturday, and the Upper Mohaka Rodeo on Sunday.

SAFE campaigns officer Abi Izzard said that, in today's "civilised society", there was really no excuse for the continued support of rodeo.

"Rodeo really has nothing to do with Kiwi culture. Towns and cities across New Zealand have so much to offer both locals and tourists, providing wholesome family fun without causing harm to animals," she said.

In the 2014-2015 rodeo season two bulls died, one of which was put down after injuring its back at the 2015 Upper Mohaka rodeo.

In December a horse died at the Te Anau rodeo and in late 2014 Huntly rodeo closed after receiving animal welfare warnings from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Upper Mohaka Rodeo organiser Simon Tahau said they were confident in their animal welfare rules.

"Animal welfare is a huge issue in most sports involving animals, as far as rodeo goes most of us are farmers and animal lovers ourselves, and we wouldn't do anything to hurt them."

He said the rodeo club had nothing to worry about because they worked well within the rules.

The Wairoa A&P Rodeo Club declined to comment.

Direct Animal Action spokeswoman Kathleen Lafferty said they were not planning to protest at the Hawke's Bay rodeos, but they would if they continued in 2017.

"We're going to keep going until there's a nationwide ban.

"It's unethical putting animals at risk of injury and suffering just for the sake of entertainment."

SAFE, SPCA, and Farmwatch launched a petition in July calling for a nationwide rodeo ban, which now has over 30,000 signatures.

The petition notes section four of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that animals are not subjected to unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress, and that causing animals to suffer for entertainment is both unreasonable and unnecessary.

- The Wairoa Rodeo will start at 8.30am at A&P Showgrounds, Ruataniwha Rd, Wairoa. The 2016 Upper Mohaka Rodeo will start at 10am on McVicar Rd, State Highway 5, Napier-Taupo road.