Publication: NZ BookLovers
The Kaimanawa horses – New Zealand’s wild horses living in the Kaimanawa ranges – hold an important place in New Zealand’s post-colonial history. With the first horses introduced into New Zealand by Samuel Marsden in 1814, the horse population steadily increased under the efforts of people like Sir Donald McLean, who did his bit to bolster the local breeding by importing two Welsh stallions, and then releasing one of the progeny stallions and several mares on the Kaingaroa Plains in the 1870s.
This first small herd of feral horses are said to be some of the ancestors of the horses that roam the ranges now, in an area that is used by the New Zealand Army, and looked after by the Department of Conservation. The bi-annual muster of these horses ensures that the horse population does not exceed three hundred, and for many years this muster – organised by the Department of Conservation – has meant the wholesale slaughter of many horses, who were mustered down from the ranges without a place to go. In recent years awareness has grown around the need to protect the horses, and thanks to organizations such as the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, a wide-spread effort of re-homing (and re-training) these horses has been increasingly successful.