New Zealand’s High Court has declined to make a ruling on the legality of rodeo and dismissed the judicial review sought by animal advocacy group SAFE and the NZ Animal Law Association (NZALA).
The High Court, with Judge Churchman presiding, said last Friday that the place to challenge the legality of rodeo is in the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee’s (NAWAC) consultation process.
SAFE’s Chief Executive Officer Debra Ashton said the group expected NAWAC to proceed with a review of the rodeo code of welfare as a priority, and urged the committee not to delay the consultation process any further.
“We will bring our concerns that rodeo is unlawful and violates the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to NAWAC’s consultation process,” Ashton said. She said SAFE would “monitor the drafting of a new code closely to ensure the correct process is followed and the law is upheld”.
Ashton said “it should not take legal action to prompt NAWAC into action, but we will continue to do what it takes to seek justice”.
NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association (NZRCA) President Lyall Cocks said the association was pleased with the outcome, “because the High Court agreed with the Respondents (Ministry for Primary Industries [MPI], NAWAC and the NZRCA) and dismissed the NZALA and SAFE’s grounds of review and declined to grant any of their requested relief”.
“The judge found that whilst there was a technical error in the revocation of the 2014 Code and the reissue of the 2018 Code, it did not warrant rendering the 2018 Code of Welfare: Rodeos unlawful.”
He added: “The High Court confirmed that the Animal Welfare Act adopts an animal welfare approach which permits the use of animals for entertainment (sport) rather than an animal rights approach taken by the anti-rodeo groups which would limit or ban such activities. It also found that it was not appropriate for the High Court to inquire into the question of whether each rodeo event was consistent with the Act and that this is the role of NAWAC.’’
Cocks thanked the association’s clubs and members who cover the length and breadth of the country, and its stock contractors “who always have the welfare of their animals as their highest priority’’.
“Our focus now needs to be on the review of our Code and more information will be provided on that to the relevant parties in due course.’’