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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 15, June 1971

by W.W. Christie

As a boy reared in the Ohinemuri Goldfields, I have a story to tell of the wild horses which roamed over the hills and plains of that vast block of virgin country known to us as the Pukehanga. Through fern and scrub, meandered streams running into the swamps, eventually into Piako River. Bounded on the other side by the Ohinemuri River, it is extended from Paeroa at one end to Te Aroha on the other. From the hills you looked over the Hauraki Plains, in those days untouched by man. Little did we realize that some day it would be one of the richest farming districts in the world.

Of greater interest to us were the droves of beautiful wild creatures with their flowing long tails and manes and their coats shining like silk in the sunshine. Mostly we hunted them just for fun but every boy longed to possess one in spite of the fact that he knew how savage they could be with hooves flying, eyes glaring, nostrils distended, ears laid back and teeth bared. The first procedure was to spy out where the mob was grazing and not disturb it till everyone was in his allotted position on hill or track. Your duty was to turn the horses when they tried to break out of the encirclement and this you did by shouting or waving anything available. Hour after hour you kept them on the gallop until they were ready to drop from exhaustion. A capture was followed by a patient period of "breaking in" and sometimes we were even dealers, horses bringing between 5/-and 15/-. (abridged).