Dog trial forefather says sport is ‘looking great’

Merv King watches the Hilton-Gapes Valley dog trials from his former property. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK
Merv King watches the Hilton-Gapes Valley dog trials from his former property. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK
Merv King’s lengthy involvement with dog trialling has led him to some interesting highs.

A life member of the Hilton-Gapes Valley Collie Club, the sport’s Canterbury centre and the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association, the 76-year-old former Southlander would prefer to highlight the best parts.

Enjoying a beer on the back of a Toyota Hilux, watching the world — and some trials — go by, Mr King said the Hilton-Gapes Valley course was familiar territory.

"This is my farm but my son, Logan, runs it now. I help here and there but he gets it to tick along quite nicely. Looking for a new place to hold our event years ago, I had a wander down to this spot and thought you know what, we could have a trial here, a trial over there ... not many spots where you can stand in one place and watch three or four trials."

The list of Mr King’s achievements is long.

He was NZSDTA president for four years, vice-president for four years and also served as Canterbury centre president. He was also secretary for 14 years of the Hilton-Gapes Valley club.

"Look, the camaraderie in this sport is unbelievable. There are never any arguments around here mate ... Makes it very easy to stay."

His biggest highlight was when, during his tenure as New Zealand president, he got into the New Zealand long head run-off in Blenheim.

"Another one was getting a South Island placing at Waitaki in the long head. Possibly an Island zig-zag run-off in St Bathans. To get in those run-offs, in something like 200 runs is a pretty good effort."

His property, which had been used for dog trials since 1973, was all gorse before he planted 13,000 trees and thinned them out.

"I actually bought the farm as a stepping stone and I am still here."

Mr King moved from Southland to the North Island for 7 years in 1966, before returning in 1973 to buy the property the Hilton-Gapes trials are run on today.

"It has been a great life. I have enjoyed everything I have done so far. Now my son runs the place and he is pretty good at it."

Mr King is semi-retired and lives just out of Geraldine, and helps around the farm where he can.

"Fatting a few lambs, run a few cattle. Whatever Logan (my son) wants from me I come down and help. What is next? I do not know really," he said.

"We have done all the overseas stuff we have wanted to. I have just finished building a bach in Twizel and it is coming together quietly. Between bowls and dog trials and race horses, I am flat out, it keeps me busy."

He is grandfather to five grandchildren: four young boys and a girl. His daughter lives in Orari and his eldest son flies helicopters in Alaska.

"It is 12 years now since I was president but the role was full-on. Always a crisis arising somewhere but it was pretty rewarding too," he beamed.

"I am happy someone else is having a go ... Yeah mate, it is all looking great."

 

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