Rodeos will not be banned in New Zealand because the Minister responsible for animal welfare does not believe they are harmful enough.

However, Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri has asked the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to address issues like tail twisting and rope burning, which animal activists raised, and the results will be reported back to her under urgency.

Whairiti didn't believe rodeos were harmful enough to justify a ban, but said those involved needed to have animal welfare "at the forefront of their minds at all times".

Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said she was investigating specific issues raised by lobbyists but did not consider rodeo harmful enough to ban it outright. Photo / Warren Buckland
Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said she was investigating specific issues raised by lobbyists but did not consider rodeo harmful enough to ban it outright. Photo / Warren Buckland

"I have asked that the use of calves, electric prodders, flank straps, tail twisting and rope burning be specifically looked at," she said.

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"I have also asked my officials to see how we can improve welfare for animals used in rodeos."

She acknowledged public concern, but said rodeos were popular in many communities.

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The Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Maori electorate MP grew up on the East Coast of the North Island and said rodeos were common there - she had attended several herself.

Former Minister for Primary Industries, National MP Nathan Guy, supported Whairiti's decision.

He said changes had been made through NAWAC, which is an independent expert group that advises the minister on animal welfare.

"They've had a big look at this issue and so has the select committee last year."

Former Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said he supported the Government's stance. Photo / File
Former Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said he supported the Government's stance. Photo / File

Rodeos operate under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relevant codes of welfare.

NAWAC also issued a code of welfare for rodeos in 2014, which prevents the use of pyrotechnic displays and sheep riding at rodeos, and sets standards for animal handling and equipment.

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A veterinarian and animal welfare officer also have to be present at every rodeo.

• READ MORE: Opinion: Noose should be around rodeo's neck

Whaitiri said the use of electric prodders, including at rodeos, was already addressed in the animal welfare regulations she was considering.

Tail twisting is not permitted under the Animal Welfare Act and people who break an animal's tail can be prosecuted.

The code says animals have to be handled in ways that minimise the risk of pain, injury or distress, and only fit and well animals may be used.

"I have asked NAWAC to fast track further advice on rodeos this year. In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) continues to enforce current animal welfare requirements, and investigates any complaints against rodeos."