Mayor urged to resign from SPCA
Animal rights protesters are calling on Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker to stand down as head of the SPCA, claiming a conflict of interest.
The call has come along with an online petition signed by more than 2500 people, urging Hardaker and her council to put a halt to the International Rodeo which will be held at Claudelands Arena on November 24.
The animal rights group says that as chairwoman of the SPCA, Hardaker has a conflict of interest in her role as mayor and should stand down from her responsibilities with the SPCA.
Animal rights activist Alvina Edwards said they were simply posing the question: "Why is the leader of our community sitting on the board of the SPCA?".
Hardaker has hit back, saying that her personal stance on rodeos is well known and that she has already planned to give up her role as chairwoman of the Waikato SPCA board.
"I do not personally support rodeos and have publicly stated that view many times.
"In relation to my role as chairperson of the Waikato branch of the SPCA, I signalled to the executive committee after the last AGM earlier this year that due to my commitments, I would not be continuing," she said.
Ms Edwards said that rodeo was an outdated form of entertainment and her group was seeking a nationwide ban.
"What we are saying is it's cruel and it shouldn't go ahead," she said. "Our bottom line is that we want it to be completely banned throughout the country."
However International Rodeo organiser Darryl Tombleson said that it was absurd to think that a group of people who were so passionate about animals would do anything to harm them. "Everyone involved is an animal lover."
Mr Tombleson noted that they were careful to ensure the safety of every animal involved in the show.
"We have veterinary surgeons on site and the animals are only on site for a couple of hours, where they are kept in wide open spaces."
Along with rodeo stunts such as bull and bronco riding, Mr Tombleson said the three-hour performance featured pyrotechnics, lighting shows, a performance from Adi Burgess and great entertainment from rodeo clowns.
"It's more than just a rodeo. It's a full show production," he said.
The International Rodeo made its debut in Hamilton last year and, after a sellout success, this year added a show at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Ticket sales appeared to be going well, with the website showing 80 per cent had sold already and statistics showing a range of people planning to attend, Mr Tombleson said.