Farmer charged after breaching animal welfare laws at Northland rodeo

A man has been convicted of breaching animal welfare laws at a rodeo - the first case of its kind in New Zealand.

Northland farmer Derek Robinson was found to have given a steer an electric shock at a rodeo near Whangarei in 2016 after it went down and refused to get up.

The president of New Zealand's Animal Law Association Saar Cohen said Robinson did the same thing again in 2017 and "we believed that he had to be stopped".

The landmark case was brought privately by the association because the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wouldn't take it on.

"A senior manager at MPI decided not to prosecute. We believe that was a mistake by MPI because we thought that MPI didn't understand the public interest," Cohen said.

MPI chose to issue a warning, despite one of its inspectors recommending a prosecution.

The ministry declined to comment on the conviction.

Lawyers involved in the case said footage also shows Robinson illegally shocking calves.

The rodeo veteran of more than 20 years looks around, before appearing to use the same electric prodder.

However, his lawyers successfully argued the prodder was turned off.

The Rodeo Cowboys Association told Newshub Robinson's conduct was an isolated, unacceptable incident, and it will try to ensure he doesn't participate in future rodeos.

The Animal Law Association expects his conviction to enable future prosecutions.

"Prodders in rodeos should now be a focus of enforcement for MPI because the road is clear for them to investigate and then prosecute," Cohen said.

Robinson will be sentenced in 2021.