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The thrill of the hunt

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Arguably the oldest sport of all, Hunts hark back to Saxon times when the Kings of England presided over royal deer forests which were a veritable larder for feeding the monarch’ s households, and the lords of the manor had stag hounds for hunting de

Fast forward hundreds of years to the other side of the globe and a vastly different societal framework and we find Hunts continue to play an important part in rural communities from the tip to the tail of New Zealand. Country editor Jody Robb takes a look at why hunting still resonates with farming folk and increasingly, has an evolving membership across the generations.

Hunting to hounds is a sport which is thriving throughout rural New Zealand and finding favour with a broad cross-section of participants indiscriminate of age, gender or background – despite originally being the preserve of English royalty and aristocracy.

The traditional English hunting scenes immortalised through framed paintings or prints hung on so many home walls, are played out across New Zealand in autumn and winter as the 28 Hunts ride out with the hounds. In some families, the baton of hunting has been passed from generation to generation with the expectation it will continue through the family line.

Hunting in New Zealand was introduced by this country’s early settlers keen to uphold some of the traditions from their homeland. They formed the first Hunt, the Auckland Hunt Club, in the 1860s.

The New Zealand Hunts Association (NZHA) which today oversees all elements of the sport, outlines on its website that as foxes or hares had not been introduced to the country at that stage, the sport was a variation on the English tradition.

Designated mounted riders – often dashing young officers of the garrison – were chased by a field of riders on horseback.

Many of these participants went on to establish the Pakuranga Hunt in 1872 – now the oldest Hunt in New Zealand.


As the New Zealand Herald reported in May, 1879 the Hunt was quite the sporting and social occasion.

"The Pakuranga Hunt opened the hunting season on Saturday at the estate of Mr W. McLaughlan, the Master of the hounds. People arrived from town in buggies and on horseback, and for several hours troops of horsemen and carriages could be observed coming up the straight avenue, a mile in length, which leads to Mr McLaughlan’s residence...” Read full article here

This article is from the latest Country Magazine.

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