Title: Exotic Intruders

Author: Joan Druett

Publication details: Heinemann, 1983, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Joan Druett

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Exotic Intruders

Chapter Two — The sport of kings

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Chapter Two
The sport of kings

And the animals came in two by two, hurrah, hurrah!

—Negro spiritual

The sea roared : and the stormy wind lifted up the waves thereof.

—from a Prayer at Sea

The great fertility of the valley of the Hutt has often been mentioned,' recited the Honourable Henry Petre, bracing himself against the roll of the ship, 'and I can bear witness that too much cannot well be said in its favour.' The ship lurched violently with a great groaning of its timbers. A cupboard slid ominously and began to lean forward. One of the gentlemen jumped up, and heaved it back onto the level. Mr Petre maintained his balance by running forwards and backwards with little short steps. 'Do go on,' begged one of the lady travellers, clasped hands raised. 'Don't stop, Mr Petre—it's so calming to hear your account of the colony that lies ahead.'

The year was 1842, the ship was the Thomas Sparks, and the Honourable Henry William Petre was reading from his little manual for intending migrants, which he had just had published, and which was entitled, An Account of the Settlements of the New Zealand Company.

'As soon as the woods are cut down, grasses spring up, affording excellent food for cattle,' he began again, but was then seized by a fatal desire to show the lady an engraving of the scene. Incautiously he opened the doors of the bookcase, and in an instant the ship thudded sideways and the whole contents of the cupboard, books parcels, paper and ink, had descended onto Mr Petre's head. Everyone rushed forward, shouting and getting disarrayed, and the ship swung more and more violently, so that more and more furniture collapsed under the strain of trying to maintain the vertical on a base where the horizontal changed by the second. The reading, for the present, had to be abandoned.

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Henry William Petre was the second son of the eleventh baron Petre, a director of the New Zealand Company—Lord Petre's county seat was Thorndon Hall in Essex, and part of Wellington was named after this. Henry came out to New Zealand on the Oriental in 1840; in partnership with Hopper and Moles worth he set up a flourmill, and farmed. He became a member of the Provisional Committee, despite the fact that he was barely out of his teens, and his long lanky figure became a well-known and popular one around the settlement.

When Hopper died Petre became restless, and returned to England on the Cuba, to court and marry a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl, Eleanor Mary Warmesley. Two months after the marriage, on August 1, 1842, the Petres left Portsmouth for New Zealand aboard the Thomas Sparks. They took with them as employees Mr and Mrs Ditchon, Jack Cubby, a valet boy, Mr and Mrs Ridler, and Wintringham, a groom. Wintringham's job was no sinecure; he was kept thoroughly occupied on board, along with his master, in caring for the horses that Henry was transporting to New Zealand. He must have been a very efficient lad with the horses, for Henry had time enough to spare to read to the other cabin passengers, reason with the most unreasonable captain—and learn to play the clarinet.

Black and white reproduction of portrait of Henry William Petre
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The wooden sailing ship, in which the travellers of those times had to spend many months while journeying to the new land on the other side of the world, had changed very little in the preceding hundred years. Cabin passengers, like the Indian officers of the eighteenth century, had to pay large sums for the use of the cabins, particularly the big stern cabin like the one that the Petre family had hired on the Thomas Sparks. They had to furnish the cabin with their own belongings, which made it certainly more convenient for carrying the furniture for the projected home in the colony. Some passengers who booked the big cabins even took grand pianos and drawing room harps. Steerage passengers rarely had any possessions, or the room to carry them, except for cooking and eating implements and anything that could be packed in a single chest. However sleeping berths were provided for steerage passengers; cabin passengers had to bring their own beds.

Petre had made his first journey to New Zealand in the Oriental in 1840, with the first set of colonists from the New Zealand Company, when he was 20 years old. His father, Lord Petre, was a director of the New Zealand Company, and his county seat, Thorndon Hall, Essex, provided the name for part of Wellington.

Young Mr Petre, in partnership with Hopper and Molesworth, set up a flourmill in the settlement, and farmed. Young as he was, he proved his enthusiasm sufficiently to become a member of the Provincial Committee in 1840. He bought land in the Wairarapa, and then returned to Britain, saying, 'With respect to my very favourable opinion of New Zealand as a field of emigration, I have to offer as a proof of at least my own sincerity, the statement, that I have revisited this country (England) merely for the purpose of making arrangements required for carrying out my plans of settlement in New Zealand, whither I am about to return as a colonist.' While in England he married, and then he packed up his bride and entire household to embark on the Thomas Sparks.

'I have not the least doubt that the feeding of stock will become a profitable occupation in New Zealand,' he went on at a later reading, doubtless before the admiring eyes of his new wife and all the other cabin passengers. 'Preparations are already making for some establishments of this kind . . .' And then the Honourable Henry spoke on, like so many of the influential colonists of that time, about the advantages of bringing in livestock and other animals.

Petre was following his own advice. Between decks, in special pens, and in two more special crates on deck, he was carrying some brood mares and thoroughbred stallions, and a collection of peacocks and pheasants. But for the average colonist, taking animals on board the average sailing vessel was a task more easily contemplated than achieved.

Carrying animals on board ship was by no means a new idea. Wealthy travellers had to decide when booking, between the stern cabin (where the motion of the vessel was magnified by being at the extreme end of the ship) and the roundhouse cabin on the poop, where there was constant commotion—either from seamen on the poop working on the mizzen-mast sails or from the pecking and crowing of the poultry kept in cages there. Every sailing vessel, faced with a passage of more than four or five weeks, carried poultry on the poop. They were kept there because that was where they were safest from sailors who felt like a tasty egg, or even a bit of poultry.

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Transport of livestock

Domestic animals were first carried to Britain about 4000 BC, by neolithic farmers who transported the stock in their frail skin-covered kayak-like craft. In these boats, which were about twelve metres long, the farmers would have been able to carry two or three cattle, or about ten pigs, sheep or goats. The legs of the animals were tied and they were laid on furs or brushwood in the bottom of the boat. The length of the journey must have been limited to short distances, as the livestock could not have been fed or watered while on board. Later, in their oak-plank galleys, the Romans and Norsemen carried more animals around Europe.

William the Conqueror used oar and sail-propelled ships to carry his warhorses across the Channel to England, as shown on the Bayeux tapestry. Then, during the Crusades, the transport of horses became a recognised business, with the spaces between the decks being divided into temporary stalls with hurdles. The horses boarded the ships through a loading door in the port side of the hull, which gave access to the lower deck, which part of the ship the horses shared with the ordinary pilgrims who could not afford passage in the much more spacious aftercastle. The food supplied on these ships was extremely bad, so many pilgrims carried their own hens, wine and cooking utensils. The medieval ships were usually ballasted with sand and the passengers could use this for storing eggs and wine.

Medieval ships were also used to carry more exotic animals, as contemporary manuscripts illustrating the life of Marco Polo show his little carvel-built ship loaded to the gunwales with camels and elephants.

Cortes carried horses for his Spanish cavalrymen when he invaded Mexico, and it was the shock of seeing these huge four-footed beasts that helped him win a psychological battle against the Indians. The horses were stowed in the central hold of his caravels, rigged in broad leather slings throughout the journey, so they would not damage themselves by falling over in the unstable craft. Their hooves barely touched the planking of the hold as they swung from the slings like pendula; the poor animals must have been most uncomfortable, and it is improbable that they could eat much while in this position. Some of them certainly died of haemorrhaging during the voyage, and this page 23
Horses being loaded for the journey to New Zealand.

Horses being loaded for the journey to New Zealand.

could have been due to rupture of intestines or the caecum. Boarding the vessel must have been a terrifying experience in itself, as the horses were lowered into the hold by winch and pulley—a procedure that was repeated with horses being loaded and unloaded for the journey to New Zealand over three hundred years later, as we see in the drawing from the diary of an early settler, William Webster Hawkins.

The practice of carrying livestock in sailing ships to provide fresh meat, milk and eggs was firmly established by the seventeenth century, and continued throughout the nineteenth. When the East Indiaman Wentworth left London in 1699, it carried fowls, hogs, sheep, geese, turkeys, and a couple of live bulls. Mr Barlow, who kept a journal while on board, complained that if the bulls sustained bruises during a rough spell, the flesh when butchered was not nearly as tender. Carrying livestock for food was important at the time, as the taking on of fresh provisions during the voyage was not an event that could be relied upon; the Dutch did not enjoy particularly good relations with the British, and yet controlled many of the south-east Asian ports.

Even when safely in New Zealand, animals were destined to be carted from place to place. With the establishment of stud farms for thoroughbred race horses in the upper North Island, the Waikato River became a route for transport of horses to and from race meetings. In a photograph from the Roose collection (held by the Waikato Art Museum) we see the five-year-old Funny Fox being carried by a paddlesteamer to a meeting. The complications of such a journey turned out to be worthwhile in this case, as Funny Fox finished third in her race.

Another picture from the same collection shows some intimidated-looking cattle being loaded onto an even stranger craft—an LST, a wartime troop landing craft. These animals were being transported to the Pacific Islands. This export of live animals to various parts of the Pacific basin still continues today, but now under much more convenient conditions by air. This means of transporting stock was pioneered by the Ruakura Research Station, which used the plane pictured to take a trial shipment of calves to Fiji. This venture was most successful and air transport of livestock is becoming more and more common today.

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Hens were not the only livestock carried as a matter of routine on longer journeys. Cows and their calves, sheep and goats, pigs and geese were carried for milk and meat. They were kept below decks, and their quarters became rather steamy at times—once so much so, on an east Indiaman in the tropics, that the captain sent a message down enquiring whether the ship might be on fire.

Some captains even did a little gardening on the side. If one took the manure from the livestock and mixed it judiciously with the top layer of ballast soil in the hold, one could have a nice little hothouse down there. Leslie wrote in Old Sea Wings, Ways and Words in 1890, 'It was not unusual for the captain to do a little practical farming in the hold of his ship by planting out upon the freshly trimmed ballast cabbage, lettuce, spring onions, or any edible root that was likely to thrive in the soil.' The vegetables would have been forced, with the close conditions, and blanched, because of the lack of light, but a tasty change from salt beef and ship's biscuits.

'Most ships,' Mr Leslie went on, 'had a small kitchen garden planted in boxes of earth in the jolly boat, which boat was further crammed to the gunwhales with green groceries of every sort, and, weather permitting, this little garden was a source of great pleasure to a solitary skipper on a long voyage.'

Apparently ship's pig was an excellent dish, what with the lack of exercise and dry fodder. As one colonist from the Blenheim reported, in 1840, 'It was delicate as lamb, so different from the pork on shore.' Another sailing ship of the time, the Arab, carried on a trip to Tasmania 13 sheep, 13 pigs, 120 fowls, 12 geese and 12 turkeys, 24 ducks and a goat—and this was for fresh provisions for five cabin passengers, the captain, the chief officer and the doctor.

Funny Fox on paddle-steamer.

Funny Fox on paddle-steamer.

The migrants, who were given free passage by the New Zealand Company, were not as well fed by any means. Like the crew, they subsisted mainly on salt beef and ship's biscuits. The salt beef was not attractive; the seamen swore it was horse, and called it 'salt-horse' and called the cask it was kept in the 'harness cask'. They also used to get what they called 'plum duff, a sort of dumpling, and porridge with no milk. A doctor was required to be on board, responsible for the diet of the migrants; he had also to ensure an adequate supply of fresh water. It was his task to issue lime or lemon juice at regular intervals to stave off the dreaded scurvy. He was encouraged to take an active interest in the diet and health of the migrants by the fact that he was paid ten shillings for each adult migrant landed in New Zealand alive.

All migrants were required to have their own knife, fork, spoon, plate and drinking mug. Cooking was done by two male passengers who received about £5 for their trouble. They had to do this on deck, under a shelter, and for four meals a day. Some migrants had the foresight to improve their lot by taking certain provisions on board. The conditions were not however as bad as they may appear to our twentieth-century eyes. If you had lived in a small thatched cottage with a privy down the bottom of the garden, drawing your water from a well and cooking your food over an open fire, then the conditions on board ship were no great contrast. But that did not make it any easier for the assisted migrant to follow any well-meant advice about taking livestock with him on the long voyage. Some may have managed to carry a cat, or a docile small dog, or even some small birds in a cage, but cattle and horses were out of the question.

Cattle on LST.

Cattle on LST.

The plane which took the first load of calves to Fiji.

The plane which took the first load of calves to Fiji.

The length of the voyages—13 to 17 weeks—tends to horrify people nowadays with the implication of absolute boredom. But life moved much more slowly in those days, in a world without labour-saving devices such as gas stoves and automatic washing machines. Sewing without a sewing machine filled up many hours, while washing clothes by hand with little soap in salt water used up many more. The men tended to drink and gamble, although this was very much frowned upon in New Zealand Company ships.

The cabin passengers entertained each other by making up little plays, playing cards and occasionally flirting. William Deans wrote in 1840, 'You are aware that the Adelaide left England on the same day with us, or rather the day before we did. The lateness of her arrival caused strong fears to be entertained of her safety, and everyone was deploring her supposed loss as a sad blow to the early prosperity of the colony. Her arrival was welcomed by everyone, and particularly by those who had relations on board. The fact is that jealousies arose on board amongst the ladies. Parties were formed on board ship and the captain put into the Cape to fight no fewer than four duels—he himself one of the principals.'

Other cabin passengers entertained each other by reading or reciting aloud.

' . . . agriculture will rank high among the resources of the Port Nicholson district,' read the Honourable Henry William Petre. 'The wheat grown upon the banks of the Hutt from seed obtained from the Cape of Good Hope yielded well and was of excellent quality; and barley grown from some seed which I brought from New South Wales, where it had been raised from Cape seed . . . ' The ship rocked, shook page 27 itself and lurched, with a groaning and grating of timbers. 'Oats yield abundantly, and Indian corn or maize is universally cultivated by the natives. Potatoes are produced in great abundance . . . ' More lurching and creaking, hollering of sailors and roaring of the sea. The passengers of the Thomas Sparks, cabin passengers and migrants alike, had a problem. Their captain, Captain Sharp, was a maniac.

Earlier in the voyage, when a migrant called Etheridge irritated him, Captain Sharp had wanted to have the offender lashed to the rigging but Mr Petre managed to dissuade him. The punishment was reduced to no rations for a week. Presumably the other migrants gave him a share of their food, as there is no record of the hapless Etheridge starving to death. On another occasion the migrants, en masse, irritated the captain so unbearably that he fetched out all the muskets and pistols and loaded them, muttering to himself in brooding tones. When Mr Petre led a delegation of the cabin passengers to plead for moderation, the captain retreated to his cabin with the assorted armoury and locked himself in for 24 hours. When on deck, he insisted on carrying what seemed to be far too much canvas. Mr Petre, fearing for his horses, tried to remonstrate with him. This merely led to a quarrel. The canvas stayed up and spread, willy-nilly. For obvious reasons, the atmosphere in the cabin where Mr Petre was reading from his book was fraught with tension.

The rain began to fall and the wind began to rattle through the ropes like thunder. The tumult increased, until the thunder itself could hardly be heard in the midst of the tremendous roar of the wind and the sea. Some of the passengers began to pray. A big sea hit the ship, the vessel heeled over—and with a crack like the knell of doom the jib was split and the fore-top-gallant was carried away.

Utter terror reigned. The captain was so delighted at the general abject state of his passengers that he reduced canvas for the first time in the voyage. He justified their trepidations later, however, by sailing the ship onto a rock near the Cape of Good Hope, on a dark night in October. A few moments of uproar ensued, but Mr Petre, showing the stuff of which seasoned colonists are made, organised the passengers into groups to man the pumps and the ship limped into port.

The repairs to the ship took two months to complete so Mr Petre's horses benefited from a spell of grazing under the kindly sky of South Africa. Mr Petre enjoyed the break also, riding and racing and inspecting bloodstock. He couldn't resist it—he bought some more horses. Room in the pens there was not, so the Chief Officer had to make shift. Eight passengers were put into odd berths around the ship, one family taking over the hospital, and the horses were given their cabins.

This was not the first example of ships carrying livestock in odd places. The longboat was often used as a pig pen. Richard Dana, of the Alert, wrote in his Journal, ' . . . our livestock, consisting of four bullocks, a dozen sheep, a dozen or more pigs, and three or four dozens of poultry, were all stowed away in their different quarters: the bullocks in the longboat, the sheep in a pen on the fore hatch, the pigs in a sty under the bows of the longboat, and the poultry in their proper coop, and the jolly boat was full of hay for the sheep and the bullocks.'

Right from the time that sailing ships first took off on lengthy voyages, the poor quality and unattractiveness of ship's supplies had prompted sea captains to carry livestock. Turtles and tortoises were favourites, needing no feeding or cleaning up of manure. Many ships picked up animals along the way, collecting them at the whim of page 28 the captain at each landfall. According to Harry Morton, in his delightful book The Wind Commands, llamas, buffaloes, albatrosses, monkeys, rabbits, swans, penguins, tortoises and lizards were included in the manifest of some of these sailing vessels. The llamas, he says, were not popular with the crew, as they smelled as rank on board ship as they do on land.

All ships carried at least one cat, to help keep down the ever-present rats; some ships also had a dog—the Roebuck had a water-spaniel which retrieved seabirds that the men shot. The men were often very fond of these shipboard pets: the Joseph Conrad hove to when their cat fell overboard, so that he could be rescued.

Cattle and sheep were a nuisance on board ship. Such animals need a lot of bulky fodder. They get seasick, although they cannot vomit. They were thought to be prone to scurvy. Scientists believe now that only man and the guinea pig can get scurvy, but there were many accounts of animals' teeth falling out and their gums becoming blue and swollen. They were miraculously cured when given fresh vegetables to eat.

So, given the privations and pecular nature of this particular voyage, the fact that Petre's horses arrived well—Jerningham Wakefield recorded that the animals 'arrived in as sleek condition as though turned out of a London stable'—was a tribute to either Mr Petre's force of character, or the devotion of his groom. And yet it was by no means an isolated case. New Zealand is about twenty thousand kilometres from Britain, the sea journey crossing some of the widest and roughest stretches of water on earth, and yet hundreds of horses, cattle and sheep survived the journey.

The crates for the animals had to be closely boarded with dressed timber, or else the stock damaged themselves on rough edges. There had to be plenty of ventilation—a difficult task when the pens were below decks. The food and water had to be fresh and of good quality; almost impossible, in view of the few landfalls made on that route. Ruminant animals get gastroenteritis, and die from it very easily. They also catch colds. They get nervous if they see too many people, so need to have the same men tending to their feeding and watering. Best results were assured if the animals were 'trained' for the journey, becoming accustomed to the crates and the sort of food they would be given on board ship. They had to be starved for a day before the start of the journey, to minimise the first symptoms of seasickness. And, above all, if the animals were in pens on the deck, and were cute in the slightest degree, they had to be protected from kind and curious passengers, who patted them and upset them and gave them strange tidbits to eat.

So it was no mean feat when, on the 31st January, 1843, the Honourable Henry William Petre arrived in Wellington with his new wife, his entire household, nineteen brood mares, some peacocks and pheasants, a mule from the Cape of Good Hope, and two thoroughbred English stallions, Aether and Riddlesworth.

New Zealand has been declared the perfect place to breed the thoroughbred because it has the sunshine of California, the grass of Kentucky and the rain of Ireland.

—Miriam Macgregor Redwood

The two stallions were the first to be imported from England. Aether was by St. Patrick from Pastille, and Riddlesworth was by Emilius from Bee-in-a-Bonnet.

Aether was a very valuable horse indeed, so was sent to Sydney for some years before returning to New Zealand, when he remained in Auckland until his death. Riddlesworth stayed in Wellington for some years, and then went to Bidwill's Pihautea station in the Wairarapa, where the first acknowledged thoroughbred to reach this country, Figaro, was already stabled.

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Bullock-Webster Diaries.

Many of the drawings in this book are from a set of diaries written and illustrated during the 1880s by Harry Bullock-Webster, who travelled around the Waikato as an agent for a nineteenth century 'Queen Street farmer', Thomas Russell. Between 1881 and 1884 Harry Bullock-Webster travelled around the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Coast and Wanganui districts visiting the large agricultural estates in which Russell had interests. Bullock Webster was a very keen huntsman and was responsible for the formation of the Waikato Hunt Club in the 1890s. He published an abbreviated version of his diaries in 1935, and wrote, 'I have consistently loved the things which, as a boy, my Dad taught me were best worth caring for—HORSES AND HOUNDS.' His diaries are now held by the Waikato Art Museum. While his drawings are of no great artisitic merit, they convey a lively picture of the people and animals of colonial New Zealand.

Getting the horses on baord ship in London.

Getting the horses on baord ship in London.

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Getting the horses across the river.

Getting the horses across the river.

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Early horse racing in the Waikato.

Early horse racing in the Waikato.

The first horses to arrive in New Zealand were a stallion and two mares, landed from the Active on Christmas Eve 1814. These accompanied the Rev. Samuel Marsden, who came to set up a mission station in the Bay of Islands. The mission party also brought sheep, cattle, poultry and tools on their own account, but the horses were gifts to the Maoris from Governor Lachlan Macquarie of New South Wales. Some Maoris had travelled to Australia as crew on whaling vessels and had returned with strange tales of huge dogs. Nevertheless, when the horses were landed on the beach at Rangihoua, the local natives were stricken with astonishment.

Marsden's friend J. L. Nicholas wrote an account of this in his book Voyage to New Zealand saying that the Maoris 'appeared perfectly bewildered with amazement, not knowing what to conclude respecting such extra-ordinary looking animals . . . their astonishment was soon turned into alarm and confusion', he went on, 'for one of the cows that was wild and unmanageable, being impatient of restraint, rushed in among them, and caused such violent terror . . . they all immediately betook themselves to flight.' However they soon returned, hypnotised, to this historic sight. Mr Marsden then mounted one of the horses and rode up and down the beach. 'To see a man seated on the back of such an animal,' wrote Mr Nicholas, 'they thought the strangest thing in nature, and following him with staring eyes, they believed at the moment that he was more than mortal.' page 32 The Maoris soon adopted the horse, recognising quickly that travelling through the bush was going to be a much more convenient affair with this labour-saving device. Up until then they had been forced to rely on the canoe for long-distance travel, and settlements therefore were always close to a river or the coast or a lake. More horses were brought into New Zealand in the next few years for the use of missionaries, but these were quickly 'liberated' by the natives of the neighbouring pas.

The first formal race meeting in New Zealand was held on a beach in the Bay of Islands in 1835. The participants were local Maoris and sailors from whaling ships. The first official horse race was held on the first anniversary of the arrival of Aurora, the earliest New Zealand Company ship to arrive in New Zealand. Two sets of people organised celebrations: the 'Selects', who gave a ball, and the 'Populars', who provided more earthy amusements, on the 25th January, 1841.

'On Monday,' wrote Jerningham Wakefield, 'the 'Populars' presented a much more extensive bill of fare. The weather having declared fine by ten o'clock, flags waved over many of the houses and masts of the shipping, and a spirited race between four whaleboats round the vessels at anchor started the proceedings. Then came a hurdle race by four horses, over some level ground at the back of Te Aro pa, for a purse of fifteen guineas, and the name of 'Calmuck Tartar', ridden by Mr Henry Petre, deserves to be recorded as the winner of the first race in New Zealand.'

From the horses that were carried across the ocean in the swaying small world of the sailing ship have sprung bloodlines that are renowned throughout the racing world, and that the well-trimmed stud farms of today are proud to advertise on their title boards.

From the horses that were carried across the ocean in the swaying small world of the sailing ship have sprung bloodlines that are renowned throughout the racing world, and that the well-trimmed stud farms of today are proud to advertise on their title boards.

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Horses on the farm

Black and white photograph of horse team pulling a loaded wagon.

Horses on the farm.

Until the arrival of the European the Maori people used the waters of New Zealand as highways: the denseness of the bush meant that making walking tracks was an arduous business. Because of this the advent of the horse was very welcome, and the Maoris eagerly adopted the animal. The European, likewise, was very dependent on his steed and his packhorses for getting around the country.

As well as being the chief means of transport, the horse helped the farmer in the breaking in of the virgin ground, often ploughing through clumped soil matted with fernroots and dangerous with hidden stumps. Horses, with bullocks, drove the first small threshing mills.

The steam traction engine began to take over the role of the horse in 1878, with the advent of the first traction-engine-powered threshing mill. Although horses were seen doing draught work on farms until the 1930s, it was the beginning of the end of an era. The steel-wheeled tractor replaced the horse in heavy farm work in the 1920s, and then, in the 1930s, the gradual introduction of the small three-point-linkage tractor meant that the horse was finally divorced from the New Zealand farm. It was the first machine to have the versatility of the horse. Clydesdales, which had been worth about £65 in the 1920s, became devalued to about £15 in the next ten years.

An era was over. The horse, a farm necessity when John Deans imported some for ploughing in 1843, became a plaything only, the hobby of children and equestrians.

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Horses on the farm.

Horses on the farm.

The first thoroughbred to be imported was Figaro, brought in by Mr James Watt. Figaro was bred in New South Wales by Operator out of Adelaide. Operator was by the 1823 Derby winner Emilius, so was a half-brother to Riddlesworth. 'Among the importers of stock,' Jerningham Wakefield wrote, 'was Mr James Watt, from New South Wales. He brought with him two horses; one of which was a young thoroughbred, Figaro, which afterwards became the sire of many New Zealand-born steeds.'

During 1842 more horses arrived in Port Nicholson, including several brood mares imported by Mr Bidwill. A grand race was organised on the beach at Petone. 'Nine out of the best horses had been entered some months before,' wrote Jerningham, 'at 10 guineas each, and now all was bustle of preparation. The horses were in regular training; jockey jackets and caps were in the process of manufacture; top-boots and whips were actively sought after; and betting books were pulled out at the hotels, the club and at other lounges.' The weather was not promising, but nevertheless there was an air of festival and excitement. Mr Petre, grappling with Captain Sharp on the Thomas Sparks, would have been most envious if he had known what he was missing. 'Clodhoppers, dressed in their best, were coming down the path along the riverbank, with their wives and children; for a general holiday had been agreed upon.

'Seven horses started; as one had paid forfeit, and another had been unfortunately killed some weeks before by a bullock which had gone beserk on the beach after page 35 landing.' Calmuc Tartar, which Petre had sold to Mr Molesworth, was a hot favourite, while the more knowledgeable punters placed their money on Figaro. Figaro won easily. He was eventually sold by James Watt to Bidwill, who took him to the Wairarapa.

Horse racing was a feature of the Auckland, Nelson, Otago and Canterbury first anniversary celebrations as well, and race meetings quickly became important social events. The first informal meetings were held at Auckland by soldiers of the military garrison using their own troop horses. The first official race meeting there was at the Epsom Downs, on the 5th January 1841. In Wellington race meetings took place at Hutt Park and Burnham Water, at Miramar.' The Burnham Water course was probably the first proper race course in the country. A hurdle race was held on the first anniversary of Nelson, on 1 February, 1843. There was a regatta of whaleboats, sailing boats and Maori canoes, followed on the next day by a horse race. Four horses competed on the course, which ran 'uphill and downhill, through flax and fern,' from Trafalgar Street round Church Hill and south to the Waimea Road. George Duppa won, his Hairtrigger beating Captain Wakefield's Slyboots by a length.

Nelson was the first seat of thoroughbred horse breeding. This was chiefly due to the efforts and brilliance of one man, the 'father of the New Zealand turf, Henry Redwood. According to Miriam Macgregor Redwood in her history of racing in New Zealand, Proud Silk, he arrived in New Zealand in 1842. He was only twenty, but already knew how to handle horses, and in England had owned and raced a good mare called Tixall Lass. Before he left for the new country he sold this mare to the Duke of Norfolk for the very healthy sum of one hundred sovereigns, after winning a wager that he couldn't put her over a five-barred gate.

Horses on the farm.

Horses on the farm.

By 1851 Henry Redwood was making trips to Australia to buy bloodstock, bringing back such horses as Spray, Symphony and Sir Hercules, travelling with the animals and caring for them on cattle-ships. Sir Hercules was bought in 1852 from T. Icely, who had been the breeder of Figaro, and who had bought Sir Hercules from another prominent breeder, Charles Smith. Sir Hercules was one of the most notable sires ever to be imported into the country. 'His stock,' says Mrs Redwood, 'who were all famous as great stayers, did more towards making the name of New Zealand horses famous than did any others among the early importations. The best of his sons was Cossack, who won the St. Leger at Homebush, while two other sons, Yattendon and The Barb, both won the Australian Jockey Club Derby.' Some years after the death of this legendary horse, the Australian wrote, 'No family has gained such a reputation as that which descends from the Colonial-bred Sir Hercules. In contests of every description the representatives of this line have achieved more than their share of popular triumph.'

When Canterbury held its first anniversary celebrations the racing took place in a patch of tussock in Hagley Park. The event was such a success that a race meeting was arranged for the following Easter Monday. However it was not until 1862 that the notable Canterbury stallion, Traducer, arrived. This thoroughbred was shipped on the sailing ship Kensington, with other valuable bloodstock, by his owner, Lancelot Walker. Mermaid, a fine brood mare, was also on board. It was a rough voyage, and the owner and the trainer, both of whom cared for the horses, were not up to the special demands of a long sea journey with livestock. When the horses arrived they were in pitiful condition; several times during the journey their owner had contemplated putting them overboard to relieve their misery. Walker was so pessimistic about their future that he was pleased to sell them to a fellow passenger, a Mr Innes.

Mr Walker must have rued his mistake many times. During his stud career Traducer sired great horses and great mares. More than a hundred of his progeny gained distinction including Sir Mordred, who was one of Canterbury's great horses, winning both the Canterbury Jockey Club Derby and the Dunedin Cup, and the Canterbury Jockey Club and Dunedin Jockey Club Champagne Stakes. Sir Mordred was later the champion sire of America.

The development of racing and horse-breeding was delayed in the Waikato because of the Maori Wars. It wasn't until 1873 that the Waikato Turf Club came into being, but in the meantime the area had had the rare luck of importing one of the great sires of all time.

Musket at birth was not considered to have a vestige of possible talent. His sire, Toxophilite, bled at the nostrils after any sort of workout. His dam, Longbow, was a roarer—a horse that has so much trouble breathing during galloping that it makes a roaring sound. By the time Musket had reached two years he had shown no sign of form at all. However as a three-year-old he ran in nine races and won seven; as a four-year-old he gained places in the only two races he ran; and at five years old he won the only race he entered. For the next six years he was at stud but was not in demand at all, as breeders could remember the defects of his parents. At this time the Waikato Agricultural Company wanted a stallion for the breeding of coach horses. They sent a man to England: he fancied Musket, and brought him back to the Waikato at a price of 520 guineas.



For a while Musket was at stud in the Cambridge area, and then he was bought by the Auckland Stud Company. In 1879 he was mated with Sylvia, a thoroughbred mare from Sydney. The result of this union was Martini-Henri, who in 1881 became the first New Zealand horse to win the Melbourne Cup. In 1885 Musket was mated with a brood mare from the Hampton Court Stud. This royal stud had just been re-established by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. The mare's name was Mersey, and on 18th September, 1885, at the Sylvia Park Stud in Auckland, she foaled a colt called Carbine.

Carbine was the horse that gave the horse-breeding industry in New Zealand a world-wide standing. His strain was to prove the most significant in the world of the thoroughbred; his stock dominated the world racing scene for many generations. He was sold as a yearling to Daniel O'Brien for 620 guineas, and after winning all of the five races he was entered as a two-year-old, he was taken to Australia. After a brilliant career across the Tasman, winning the Melbourne Cup in 1980, he was sold to the Duke of Portland for 13 500 guineas and made history by being the first horse to be imported by an Englishman to improve the English strain. His son Spearmint, his grandson Spion Kop, and his great-grandson, Felstead, were all Derby winners.

From the turn of the century horse racing prospered. The harness sport of trotting became more and more popular; today, with the possible exception of America, it is more popular in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world. The breeding of great horses went from strength to strength, producing such horses as Phar Lap ('the page 38 racing phenomenon of the century'), Kindergarten, who had legendary powers of acceleration, the champion mare Desert Gold, who set a record of 19 successive wins, and Mainbrace, who gained 23 wins out of 25 starts in his racing career.

And so, from horses that were carried around the stormy oceans in cramped and hostile conditions, brought to New Zealand by men who gambled not only on their bloodlines, but on their steeds' ability to survive an uncommon ordeal, has come a line of aristocratic bloodstock. This line has created not only an enormously profitable industry, but also an intangible export—the transmission of their genes to countries throughout the world.

Meanwhile, back in the 1840s, while the wealthy cabin passengers on those early sailing vessels were coping with their luxurious exotic intruders, the migrants in steering were preparing to cope with the problems of breaking in the land, in the new country.



Phar Lap.

Phar Lap.