A journey began 25 years ago, when a small group of like-minded people gathered together out of concern for the welfare of the wild kaimanawa horse population. Numbering around 2000 horses at the time, they were becoming a hazard to themselves and the public, through necessity when searching for sources of food. They were often seen on the highway, had to be chased off the army parade grounds, and were generally in very poor condition.
Urgent action had to be taken and both the Army and Department of Conservation worked together to remove 1100 horses, with many of these horses being auctioned off to the general public and the remainder being sent to slaughter. The formation of a society, made by that group of people, was created to ensure the survival of the kaimanawa horses and to be a voice for their needs when it came to decisions regarding their future.
These decisions had to be balanced with the need to protect areas of native plants that had been discovered growing in the more northern areas of the Kaimanawa Ranges. It was agreed that some method of control over the number of horses in the ranges was also a necessity in regards to their welfare and continued sustainability. For the years following, fencing was erected and studies conducted as to the best way to eliminate further damage to the native trees and natural tussock grasses, before pest eradication programs where put in place to control rabbits, hares, deer and possums. Thankfully, through hard work, perseverance and dedication, the horses became recognised for their heritage status and were no longer classified as pests.
The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust, originally created in 2003 to deal with the increasing number of welfare cases and to continue the journey towards a better future for the horses, was renamed Kaimanawa Heritage Horses in recognition of the horses important historic link to New Zealand’s pioneer past. They also became a registered charitable society.
They continue to work closely with the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group, DoC and the NZ Army to ensure the ongoing survival of the breed and remain diligent in their approach to the welfare needs of the kaimanawa horses both in the wild and domestic life.
The introduction of an annual bus trip saw the popularity of the horses increase as the public were now offered a chance to see the horses in their natural habitat and to see the Kaimanawa Ranges from a perspective never able to be seen by the general public. These bus trips, which are supported through time and help from both Major Hibbs, the NZ Army and Department of Conservation, have increased in popularity over the years and are now conducted over three days with up to six buses going in each day.
These trips have become a major fundraiser for the Kaimanawa Heritage Horse Society and greatly assist in the costs associated with the ongoing welfare work.
Great care needs to be taken to find suitable homes for the horses that are rounded up as part of the annual muster. The welfare committee, with the support of a network of area representatives, conduct a rigorous vetting process in order to assess suitability of potential homes. Due to the horses natural instincts, background and amazing natures, they are proving to be popular as both best friends and competitive mounts.
With the increase in their popularity, together with the need for an ongoing focus on their welfare, alternative options have been explored on ways to continue to promote the Kaimanawa horse as a heritage breed, a highly versatile companion and an important part of New Zealand’s history. The horses are unique to Waiouru and the Kaimanawa Ranges and are becoming an increasing sense of pride for the local people.
A dedicated group of kaimanawa horse supporters have worked collectively the past eighteen months towards the development of a life sized bronze statue of a kaimanawa horse in order to promote the breed in way that is both eye-catching and thought provoking. The statue will be located on the main road in Waiouru and will be presented in such a way as to highlight their stature, their home and their history. A location for the statue has been secured which will include a rest area to allow visitors to read about the history of the horses and the ongoing need for raising money for the welfare of the horses.
The statue project has the support of the local community, the NZ Army, Waiouru Army Museum, Ruapahu Council, Z Service Station, Winstone Pulp International, the local MP, Waiouru School and the Kaimanawa Heritage Horse Society. Transit Coaches and Dempsey Motors have also come onboard in support of the statue through the donation of their buses at no cost so an extra bus trip could be included for this years scheduled bus trips.
Further donations are being sought from members of the public and other businesses who would like to assist in the ongoing promotion of New Zealand’s own Heritage Horses through the construction of the statue.
No money directly raised for welfare costs will be used for the building of the statue and it is our hope that the increase in exposure and promotion of the horses through the statue will only further assist in the long term welfare needs of kaimanawa horses being met for generations to come.
If you would like to make a donation to either the Statue Fund OR the ongoing welfare costs of Kaimanawa Heritage horses then please note the different account details below. If you require a receipt for your donation or you would like further information regarding the development of the bronze statue than please contact us.
06 0991 0060812 03
Please use WHH as your payment reference.
PO 176 Patumahoe Franklin 2344
12 3107 0020865 00
Please use WELFARE as your payment reference.
PO 133 Patumahoe Franklin 2344