Heading and hunting for 125 years

Simon (left) and Keppel Taylor look over Waitaki Collie Dog Club memorabilia. Photos by Sally Rae.
Simon (left) and Keppel Taylor look over Waitaki Collie Dog Club memorabilia. Photos by Sally Rae.
The Waitaki Collie Dog Club will hold its 125th anniversary trials at Hakataramea tomorrow and Monday. Sally Rae meets some of the people involved with the club, which has a long, proud history.

Three generations of the Taylor family could well be running dogs at the Waitaki Collie Dog Club's 125th anniversary trials.

• Life member still loves trials and 'having a yarn'

Young Matthew Taylor (10), who lives on a farm in the Hakataramea Valley, is planning to have a go.

If he does, then his grandfather, Keppel Taylor (66), has said that he will, too - although he expected his grandson to beat him.

Matthew's father, Graeme, and uncle Simon, who are both on the committee, will also be running dogs, while grandmother June will be whipping up her "signature" custard squares and date scones to help feed hungry trialists and workers.

Simon Taylor will also be supplying about 500 Corriedale ewe lambs for the two heading events, a tradition started by his father probably about 30 years ago.

Medals which belonged to Ted Russell will be on display at the trials. They date back to 1911.
Medals which belonged to Ted Russell will be on display at the trials. They date back to 1911.
Keppel Taylor, a life member of the club, has been busy compiling its history in preparation for the 125th anniversary trials.

Originally known as the Waitaki Dog Trial Club, [the name was changed to the Waitaki Collie Dog Club in 1889] the club's inaugural trials were held on March 13, 1886. A special train ran from Oamaru for the event.

There were only two classes - a heading event which attracted 15 entries and a huntaway event which attracted five - and competitors competed for prize-money of 10, 7 and 4 respectively in each of the classes.

They were not the first recorded trials in the Waitaki district - earlier events were understood to have been held at Waitangi North in 1871 and at the Duntroon racecourse in 1878.

However, the Waitaki Collie Dog Club has the distinction of being the oldest dog trial club in the southern hemisphere and is believed to be the only club in the world to have run competitions every year since it was formed.

Over the years, the club has hosted the North Otago Championships, the South Island Championships and, in 1986, the five-day New Zealand Championships. A highlight was the club's centenary, also held over five days, in 1985.

Electricity was connected to the club's buildings in 1983, to the relief of the club president - before power arrived he had had to arrive early to light the copper and coal range, before the women arrived to start work in the cookshop.

June Taylor, who is a member of the ladies committee, recalled the "old days" when the building's walls were not lined. A working bee had to be held before the trials to wash the dishes, stools and tables, as birds lived in the building.

The copper had to be kept boiling, whereas nowadays, if hot water was required, it was ready at the flick of a switch.

To mark the 125th anniversary, prize money has been substantially increased, with the winner of each open event receiving $500, compared with $80 last year. Dog trial sticks, greenstone shepherd's whistles and belt-buckles will also be on offer.

Each year, 22 trophies are competed for and Keppel Taylor has managed to contact 16 of the families who originally donated the silverware and they have agreed to give a one-off trophy for the anniversary.

A dinner and prizegiving to mark the milestone will be held in Kurow in May.

The trophies will all be on display at the trials, along with medals won by Ted Russell, which date back to 1911 and have been mounted and framed.

Keppel Taylor is only missing 10 programmes from 1940 until the present day - 1940, 1943, 1948, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1985, 1993, 1997 and 2000 - and would be keen to hear from anyone who has them.

This year's judges are past club members Andrew Boys - now living in Invercargill - Tony Wall (Tekapo) and Kevin Lamont (Loburn), along with New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association president Merv King, from Geraldine.

Simon Taylor, who described the Hakataramea courses as some of the hardest in the province, enjoyed attending trials. Those competing all had similar interests and were there to "have a bit of fun".


Add a Comment