A hush fell over the crowd at the Otago Taieri A&P Show
as a rare native falcon soared over their heads and down into
the main ring.
It was a unique experience for many people while for the
falcon's handlers it was the first time they had exercised
the birds at an A&P show.
Wingspan chairman Noel Hyde, of Rotorua, and member Dean
Thomas, of Otago, allowed the crowd to see two falcons in
action as they flew from each handler to the other in an
effort to catch their lures, baited with meat.
It was the ideal opportunity for the Wingspan Bird of Prey
Centre in Rotorua to show off its work to increase the
population of the native birds as two of the falcons bred at
the centre were to be released in Central Otago after the
''This is a great opportunity, as we need all the help we can
The birds, Cazador, a 2-year-old male raptor, and Ota-Go, a
juvenile female about 7 weeks old, were due to be released on
Peregrine Winery in the Gibbston valley.
In preparation for their release, the birds were exercised to
build their muscles for life in the wild.
Mr Hyde said throughout their training the birds were handled
regularly, so they would be acclimatised to humans and the
crowds at the show would not bother them.
''Once the birds are set free they'll quickly revert to being
wild birds as they're naturally bold birds.''
The organisation's patron, ''bug man'' Ruud Kleinpaste, was
the commentator during the display, telling the audience
about the birds, including that they flew at up to 200kmh,
had amazing eyesight, were ferocious predators and hated to
fly into the wind.
There was something special about the birds and the history
of falconry, so it was important people were aware of that,
Otago Taieri A&P Society president Steve Quin said the
falcon demonstration was one of many activities to entertain
the crowd at the 153rd show, which went ''fantastically'' at
''We've had an excellent grand parade, bigger entries than
we've had in quite some time.''
The gate takings were ''excellent'' but it was difficult to
estimate numbers, he said.
The work of the committee and the judges had all made it a
great event and it would only get ''bigger and better'', Mr
Best exhibit was won by the New Zealand Fire Service, with
the New Zealand Contractors' Federation runner-up and the
best stall was won by Red Rock Hats, of Christchurch.