A social and cultural history of the New Zealand horse : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
Both in the present and the past, horses have a strong presence in New Zealand society and culture. The country’s temperate climate and colonial environment allowed horses to flourish and accordingly became accessible to a wide range of people. Horses acted as an agent of colonisation for their role in shaping the landscape and fostering relationships between coloniser and colonised. Imported horses and the traditions associated with them, served to maintain a cultural link between Great Britain and her colony, a characteristic that continued well into the twentieth century. Not all of these transplanted readily to the colonial frontier and so they were modified to suit the land and its people. There are a number of horses that have meaning to this country. The journey horse, sport horse, work horse, warhorse, wild horse, pony and Maori horse have all contributed to the creation of ideas about community and nationhood. How these horses are represented in history, literature and imagery reveal much of the attitudes, values, aspirations and anxieties of the times. Yet despite the clear significance of horses to this country, no one breed of horse has emerged to represent the country as a whole. Unlike many other modern nations, New Zealand has not identified a national horse. Close allegiance to the British heritage as well as a strong sense of local and regional identity has meant that there is no New Zealand Horse to take its place beside the Australian Stockhorse, the Canadian Horse or any of the other national horses.
Horses, New Zealand, History