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File:Drovers rest their horses and dogs (11313111916).jpg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Until the First World War, when motor vehicles became more widely available, New Zealand's development relied largely on the power of horses. While early economic development was based on income from meat and wool, it has been said that ‘New Zealand was built as much on the horse’s as the sheep’s back’. The first horses in New Zealand were a stallion and two mares, brought from Australia by the missionary Samuel Marsden. They arrived at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands on 22 December 1814.

Marsden's companion J.L. Nicholas believed the settlers would benefit greatly from 'so serviceable and necessary an animal as the horse'. Draught horses were used for heavy work such as hauling and ploughing. Light horse breeds are more active, and were used mainly for riding or pulling light loads. Ponies, which are able to thrive on poorer quality pastures, were bred for driving and hauling. According to Nicholas, the local Māori, who had never seen such animals, ‘appeared perfectly bewildered with amazement’, and regarded them as ‘stupendous prodigies’. Another account, possibly apocryphal, tells of the first time a group of Māori saw a horse. It was swimming ashore from a ship. ‘We who were gathered on the beach immediately ran for our lives, for we knew a great taniwha [water monster] was making straight for us.’ After the chief Tāringa Kurī rode the horse, the tribe bought it and ‘all the members of the tribe … took a ride on the taniwha.’

It was not until the 1840s that the importation of horses began to gain speed. By 1900, there were more than 260,000 horses in New Zealand. By 1911, the horse population reached 404,284 - about one horse for every three people.

The image above shows drovers resting their horses and dogs, c.1900 - 1947 Archives Reference: AAQT 6539 38/A2892 R21011144

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Information source:
Source Drovers rest their horses and dogs
Author Archives New Zealand from New Zealand


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Checked copyright icon.svg This image was originally posted to Flickr by Archives New Zealand at It was reviewed on by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.


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10 December 2013

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