Days before the annual rodeo season starts in northern Hawke's Bay, animal rights advocates calling for a total ban on the sport have been told that those who "step out of line" when it comes to animal welfare will be dealt with.
SAFE campaigns manager Marianne Macdonald said the group was concerned that animals "will again be tormented" purely for entertainment at the Wairoa and Upper Mohaka rodeos this weekend.
Read more: Rodeo: Bucking Bulls heading to The Duke
She said last year " shocking" footage of young bulls in distress was recorded at Upper Mohaka rodeo, which usually takes place the day after Wairoa's annual ride, which starts Friday.
"This is the same rodeo where in 2015 a bull was killed. Rodeo events cause suffering for all the animals involved, especially the calves that are roped and ridden. Young calves are used in brutal 'rope and tie' or 'calf roping' events, a euphemistic label that hides the stress caused to these calves.
"Just as our society is trying to stamp out bullying to young people, caring Kiwis also want an end to the bullying of animals.
"Rodeo's time is up. This cruelty will soon be consigned to the history books."
Responding to SAFE's concerns New Zealand Rodeo Cowboy Association president Lyal Cocks said while mistakes had been made by individuals, all rodeos adhered to strict animal welfare guidelines.
"We have reviewed our mistakes in the past, and if people do step outside the bounds of the welfare code and bring the sport into disrepute then they will be dealt with.
"Rodeos are run under strict rodeo welfare codes in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary Industries. We adhere to the welfare code and will continue to do so. The welfare of the stock is paramount - we rely on the stock for rodeo competitions, and if the stock is not healthy or capable of competing then they won't be used.
"We are continually responding to incorrect information put out by groups that are anti rodeo but we are doing everything that's required to ensure that rodeos are run safely and that animals are not distressed or hurt."