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Wrangling controversy .. An announcement by Lions Clubs New Zealand has thrown both local Lions clubs and rodeos. FILE PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY, OTAGO DAILY TIMES

A South Canterbury Lions club has been blindsided by its national body’s sudden move to withdraw support from rodeos.

In an announcement last week, Lions Clubs New Zealand decided it would no longer support local Lions clubs being involved with or profiting from rodeo events.

Geraldine Lions Club president David McKenzie said the club, which runs the ticket gate and the sausage sizzle at the annual Winchester Rodeo, was “very concerned” about the ruling.

He said it was the first time a decision like this had been made without consultation with clubs.

Geraldine Lions members would discuss the ruling at their next meeting.

Winchester Rodeo spokesman Peter McCullough said it was frustrating that the decision, made by the Lions Council of Governors, seemed to have come from the top down without any consultation with individual clubs.

Rodeo New Zealand president Lyal Cocks, of Wanaka, told The Courier he was frustrated that the Lions had listened to the New Zealand Anti-Rodeo Coalition (NZARC).

“We’ve had enough of it.”

e said the national rodeo body was seeking legal advice about filing for defamation and had also complained to police and Netsafe about being “unfairly targeted” by the rodeo protesters.

“The cyberbullying by the anti-rodeo groups is totally unacceptable.”

Mr Cocks had heard from several Lions clubs around the country whose members were upset about the sudden announcement by the national body, after no consultation with the individual clubs.

“These clubs do a great deal for the community.”

The shift to prohibit local clubs from taking part in rodeo events, where many manned the ticket gates and received profits from the events, would decrease the funding that clubs received, as well as the ability of rodeos to run their events, he said.

Mr Cocks disputed the NZARC’s claims of animal cruelty.

“No-one [at rodeos] supports animal cruelty .. we have never been charged with animal cruelty.”

Omarama Rodeo had no involvement with Lions and Waimate Rodeo declined to comment.

The NZ Anti-Rodeo Coalition declined to comment outside of posting on its Facebook page.

Lions Clubs New Zealand did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.