Auckland City Mayor John Banks wants people who witnessed this week's Wanaka Rodeo to give some thought to "the cruelty the animals suffered" for the audience's pleasure.
Mr Banks contacted the Herald last night to express his disappointment at the way animals were "distressed for human entertainment" during Wednesday's tournament.
He said that while yesterday's front-page image of a rider being crushed under an upturned bull was "spectacular", it showed the unacceptable exploitation of an animal and it was time rodeos were banned.
"This kind of behaviour is the thin edge of the wedge. I mean, we are as a society rightfully condemning of gratuitous violence of women and children but this is no more or less to these beautiful animals and someone needs to say it is wrong."
The mayor said he had never been to a rodeo but had long fought against animal cruelty and was nearly arrested in Spain while fighting the promoters of bull fighting.
He now wants to see tournaments banned in New Zealand.
"Teasing and distressing of these sentient animals for entertainment is unacceptable, undignified and wrong and if we look into our heart most people will agree with me. Someone has got to condemn what is wrong if we are to teach our children what is right. I hope those who witnessed the rodeo will give some thought to the cruelty the animals suffered for their pleasure," he said.
NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association president Gary Jackson said it was unfortunate when "ill-informed people" made such dubious statements about rodeo.
Mr Jackson said 36 rodeo tournaments, which attract 250,000 spectators, were held throughout the country each year.
The association had welfare measures in place for all of its animals and the injury rate stood at .002 per cent. Most of those injuries were minor things like scratches which did not require treatment.
Veterinary Association animal welfare co-ordinator Virginia Williams said there were very strict rules and regulations surrounding rodeos - from what animals could be used through to how they were transported and cared for.
Dr Williams said it was an emotive issue and one which many people did not agree with but there was code of welfare which was specifically designed to deal with animals in rodeos.
"It sets a lot of measures in place to ensure the welfare of the animals, including having an animal welfare manager in place at every rodeo."
SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge said he was not in favour of rodeos, which were designed only for human entertainment.
"It's using animals for entertainment purposes and often it's to their detriment. Although they may well say they have animal welfare policies in place it still doesn't negate the situation that here you have grown men trying to be macho over animals and for what purpose other than self-gratification?"
Mr Kerridge said the SPCA led a three-year campaign many years ago which eventually led to rodeos being banned at Auckland's annual Easter Show.