The show must go on: president

Canterbury A&P Association president Chris Harris has represented New Zealand in showjumping...
Canterbury A&P Association president Chris Harris has represented New Zealand in showjumping grand prix international events and in tests against Australia. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Chris Harris has been looking forward to presiding over the New Zealand Agricultural Show for longer than most.

The Canterbury A&P Association president was ready to step up for last year’s show, until it was cancelled due to Covid-19 uncertainty.

While the country was thrown into lockdown again last month, Mr Harris said the show committee and management team were pressing ahead with preparations in the hope the region would return to Alert Level 1 in time for the November show.

‘‘It’s been dragged out, so as long as we get to do it this year, we will be happy.

‘‘We are moving ahead in the hope that it’s going to happen, but we have access to a loan which we hope we won’t have to access.

‘‘The biggest worry for a show president is normally a wet show.’’

The Christchurch City Council, which owns Canterbury Agricultural Park, has agreed to make a $1million loan available to the association in the event Covid-19 forces the cancellation of the show for the second year running.

‘‘The council recognises how important Cup and Show Week are to the region and they want us to put on the show.’’

The past 18 months had been a challenging time for the association, with the show being cancelled last November, Mr Harris said.

‘‘We are here now because of the work of the various committees and the generous support to our ‘show saviour’ campaign and from our sponsors.’’

Despite the uncertainty, Mr Harris said the show committee and management team had opted not to scale back, and the show would have the variety people had come to expect.

‘‘In the woodchopping there probably won’t be as many competitors, because they won’t have the Australians, and there’s unlikely to be any overseas judges unless they’re already in the country.’’

Living on a 4ha lifestyle block at Aylesbury, between Kirwee and West Melton, Mr Harris and his wife Maria have had a long association with horses.

‘‘I’ve been with horses my whole life. We used to have racehorses, gallopers, and I’ve always been involved in the equestrian section, predominantly in the showjumping.

‘‘This show will be the first year since I was 15 years old, 36 years ago, that I haven’t been competing.

‘‘There’s just too many jobs as president, so I will be watching this year.’’

Mr Harris has represented New Zealand in showjumping grand prix international events and in tests against Australia.

In recent years he has been a New Zealand showjumping selector, although only elite teams have been selected in the past two years, due to Covid-19.

The former racehorse breeder is now a contract mower.

The couple have cut back on the horses and now have just five showjumpers.

As Mrs Harris worked for Harness Racing New Zealand, she would be unavailable for most show events this year, leaving the couple’s 14-year-old daughter Kimberly to tag along with her father at the show.

The New Zealand Agricultural Show is due to be held at Canterbury Agricultural Park from November 10 to 12.

Tickets are now on sale. Children can attend the show free, thanks to the support of the Kiwi Gaming Foundation.

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