The New Zealand animal protection organisations SAFE and The New Zealand Animal Law Association (NZALA) have initiated legal action against the government to show rodeos cause animals unnecessary pain or distress and are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Rodeo activities are sanctioned through the Code of Welfare: Rodeos 2018, which replaced the 2014 Code and is materially identical to it. The legal action now taken against the government is a judicial review in the High Court challenging the legality of the 2018 Code on both procedural and substantive grounds.

Procedurally, NZALA and SAFE consider that the proper statutory process was not followed in issuing the 2018 Code, such as failure to publicly notify it and consult on it. Substantively, they consider that the 2018 Code permits activities that do not meet the purpose of the Act. This will be the second judicial review filed by NZALA and SAFE, following the successful High Court decision in The New Zealand Animal Welfare Association v the Attorney-General [2020] NZHC 3009 concerning farrowing crates for mother pigs. 

Debra Ashton, SAFE chief executive, said to 1News, “We’ve petitioned, we’ve protested, we’ve really made our call heard very, very loudly. We’d like to see an end to rodeo, that’s no secret. It would be interesting to see, once we’ve gone through the judicial review process and possibly a consultation process… whether or not there could be any grounds for rodeo.” 

Every year, 35 rodeo events are staged in New Zealand. These events include activities such as calf roping, bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, team roping, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. All rodeos cause animals distress or even pain, and the animals abused can suffer from both physical injuries and psychological stress. The New Zealand Government previously backed down on promises to ban aspects of rodeos such as the use of electric prods.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.