Protesters against animal cruelty are expected at this weekend's Mid Northern Rodeo, but rodeo organisers don't expect protests to put a dampner on the event.

Mid Northern Rodeo Club president Noel Upton said he expected the Maungatapere event to be popular, as other local events had been cancelled recently and rodeo fans would be having "withdrawal symptoms". He said anything between 2000 and 3000 people would be a good crowd.

Animal rights activists will be among attendees, protesting outside the event. Direct Animal Action spokeswoman Kathleen Lafferty said the group would protest at 11.30am on Saturday, displaying photos of animals suffering at rodeos throughout the country.

She said the group objected to the event because animal laws didn't go far enough to protect animals from suffering in rodeos. She said the events caused animals stress, fear and suffering. The group wanted the Government to implement a nationwide ban on rodeos.


Ms Lafferty thought about 20 people from the Auckland and Whangarei areas would take part in the protest.

Mr Upton said he wasn't concerned about the protesters.

"People should come and have a look and make up their own minds ... We try and do our utmost to make everything safe for the horses, and all the animals are being treated well."

Mr Upton said if people didn't like something they shouldn't go. "I'm not keen on golf so I wouldn't go to a golf tournament."

The protesters could be good for the event in that they would attract attention. Mr Upton said the event this Saturday and Sunday would be run as two separate rodeos with the same events on both days.

Mr Upton said cowboys would come from all over New Zealand, from as far south as Invercargill and Wanaka, to the top of the North Island.

There were usually 250 to 300 entries each day. The rodeo's traditional events include saddle bronc, barrel racing and the bull ride.

The rodeo also includes roping, bareback riding and bull riding. The Mid Northern Rodeo had been going since 1965.