Top Australian and New Zealand riders will be on show at the Waimarino Rodeo this weekend, its association secretary Cathy MacLean says.

The rodeo at the Raetihi Showgrounds starts with barrel racing and calf and steer riding for local entrants on Friday night, from 6pm-8pm.

Out-of-town riders compete from 8am until about 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be a total of 340 different performances, with team roping and bull riding attracting the highest prize money.

There will also be four cups given out, but Mrs MacLean said points for the next rodeo season will be the top priority for the riders.


The Waimarino Rodeo is in its 66th year, the longest continuous one in New Zealand. It is always on the third weekend in March.

It comes after New Zealand's national finals so any points earned there go toward next season.

"All of New Zealand's top riders are there, trying to get points for next year," Mrs MacLean said.

Riders start arriving from today, and camp at the showground.

When a bullride was held in Hunterville in January, animal advocacy group SAFE urged people not to attend.

It said such events were stressful for animals, and could injure them. SAFE, with the SPCA and Farmwatch, has started a national petition seeking to ban rodeo.

Mrs MacLean hasn't heard there will be any protesters at Raetihi this weekend.

She said it was their right to protest, but they must not come on to the grounds or disrupt traffic.

And she doesn't think there will be anything they would object to.

Mrs MacLean said the Ministry for Primary Industries screened the Waimarino event last year, and everything was passed.

"We're doing everything by the book. We have to - we're farmers. We can't afford to ill-treat stock - that's our livelihood."