Horseracing in the New Zealand colonial community, 1841-1911 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University

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Massey University
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Apart from the victory of a New Zealand horse at the Melbourne Cup or a million dollar offering paid at the yearling sales, horseracing no longer fires the wider public imagination. This was not always the case. For most of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, horseracing did play a central role in the life of the New Zealand people. It was one of the earliest organized sports introduced to the colony and the first to attract large numbers of participants. Unlike many other horseracing countries, the popularity of horseracing was not limited to certain areas, rather the sport flourished throughout the country. All levels of society found opportunities to participate in the sport and its appeal crossed gender, age and racial boundaries. Men, women, and children, Maori and Pakeha came together at special times of the year to enjoy the colour and excitement of horseracing. Every early colonial race meeting, whether held at a nearby beach, a publican's paddock or at a specially created course on the outskirts of a burgeoning town, reflected the character of the community that created it. There are two key arguments to this thesis. Firstly it contends that the sport of horseracing can be used to gain insight into the colonial community and secondly that horseracing created bonds within that community.
Horse racing, New Zealand