Rodeo enthusiasts are riding roughshod over claims by Auckland City Mayor John Banks that the sport is cruel to animals.
Mr Banks, who admits he has never been to a rodeo, has long fought against what he sees as cruelty to animals, including the eating of live crayfish in Japanese restaurants, and was nearly arrested in Spain while fighting the promoters of bullfighting.
He wants the "teasing and distressing of these sentient animals for entertainment" banned.
His outburst was supported by SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge, who spearheaded a successful move to end rodeos at Auckland's Easter Show.
But New Zealand Rodeo Association national secretary Kalym Lipsey said there were no welfare issues and all the organisation's animals were looked after "like part of the family".
Speaking to the Herald after yesterday's rodeo at Rerewhakaaitu, near Rotorua, Mr Lipsey said less than 1 per cent of the animals suffered injuries - he said they were very minor - and the numbers were similar for the riders brave enough to jump on board.
Mr Lipsey invited Mr Banks "and anyone else who doubts us" to take a closer look at how the rodeo treats its animals.
"We are happy for those people who think there's an animal welfare issue for them to come to a rodeo and we will show them the gear and the animals and how they're looked after. We have absolutely no problem doing that."
His comments were supported by the rodeo association's president, Gary Jackson, who wrote in a letter to the Herald that Mayor Banks' outburst against rodeo was rich considering he had never been to one.
Part of the national rodeo circuit, yesterday's event saw eight-time world rodeo champion Joe Beaver wow the 5000-strong denim and cowboy hat-wearing crowd with his dazzling rope skills and horsemanship.
Mr Lipsey said having the 42-year-old Texan, who has earned more prize money than any other rodeo rider in the history of the sport, was the rodeo equivalent of British soccer star David Beckham's recent visit to Wellington.