A Whangarei student bull rider will test himself against Australia's best for the first time this weekend as he joins the New Zealand team at the Mid Northern Rodeo.

The Trans Tasman Challenge team is picked from members of the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association who attend high school.

It involves a challenge in Queensland in September, then a challenge in January in New Zealand.

This year the first two rounds will be held as part of the Mid Northern Rodeo at Maungatapere this weekend, and the third round at Wairoa Rodeo on January 20.


Whangarei Boys' High School student Lyric Tauariki is the only change in the New Zealand team from the one which travelled to Australia.

The 16-year-old joins fellow Northlander Tegan O'Callaghan from Kaitaia College, who is a barrel racer and captains the team.

Rodeo organisers are expecting a good crowd this weekend. President Noel Upton said they usually get 2000 through the gate each day.

He said cowboys from the South Island were making the trip north to compete.

Forty bucking horses, which belong to the rodeo club and spend the year grazing at a block at Mangakahia, have been gathered up ready for the rodeo.

Mr Upton said Bonecrusher, Disclocator and Wildweed are among the group of horses which will entertain the crowd at the weekend.

He said many of the horses had been broken, but didn't like being ridden so came to them.

Pollork Saw was broken in as a five-year-old, but was a problem for its owner so joined the rodeo club's group around 25 years ago, and has been bucking at the rodeo ever since.

"A lot of them are named after people or the areas we got them from."

Mr Upton said protesters had emailed the committee to say they would be attending the event.

"They come and protest at the gate. They're only there for an hour or so then they go away again."

He said generally people like to come and make up their own mind.

Mr Upton said the animals are vet checked before and after each day, and there are animal welfare officers, a vet and an MPI officer on site during the event.

The action starts at 8.30am on both days and includes saddle bronc, bareback, bull riding and steer wrestling.