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An estimated 5000 people attended the Wanaka Rodeo on a sweltering day yesterday as temperatures rose above 30degC.
The event was also attended by Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Ron Mark, NZ First MP Mark Patterson and national rodeo spokesman Michael Laws.
The president of the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association and Wanaka Rodeo Club, Lyal Cocks, said the atmosphere at the event was very positive, although some rodeo signs on nearby roads had been defaced early yesterday.
Mr Laws said there had been record turnouts at some Otago rodeos over the past few weeks and given the negative media attention surrounding rodeos in recent times, yesterday's public turnout was ''fantastic''.
''If you look around here, this is exactly what rodeo is all about. It's about families, it's about sitting out in the sun having a beer and enjoying high-class sport.''
Mr Laws was appointed national media spokesman for the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association in March last year. He said his job was to stand up for association members.
''When I first came in I took a look at all the technical research that was done here in New Zealand and overseas,'' he said.
''The only controversial aspect of rodeo at the moment is calf-roping. We've had a look at the evidence but we haven't seen anything yet to suggest that calves are in danger. If they were, we wouldn't do it - it's really simple.''