A reminisce as read by Te Anau Rodeo Club life member Bruce Campbell during the Grand Entry at the 50 th Anniversary Te Anau rodeo held 30 th December 2017
I was at the first meeting that formed the Te Anau Rodeo Club; little did I know that I would be standing here 50 years later talking about it.
It was held in the first woolshed up the Kakapo Road. George Pantling was the first president. In those early years the Lands & Survey was in full swing and every shepherd had a horse or two. We all thought we were great riders till we had a go at the Rodeo. Southland had a lot of rodeos years ago; there was Waikaia, Waikaka, Otautau, Queenstown, Mataura and Invercargill.
There were some good riders in those days like Sandy Irwin, Lyndsay Tweedie, Barry Cox, the late Carly Russell, Eddie O’Connor, Brownie McDonald, Lyn Morris, the Ryan boys, the late Harry Neylon, the Robinson boys. Geoff Lamb on Buster was the pickup rider.
We had a lot of novelty events, greasy pig, catch the rooster and those two could certainly run, wild cow milking, there used to be a waterhole at the end of the arena and many a time they all finished up in it, as well as sheep riding and calf riding.
In those early years we used to ride horses down to the lakefront and Main Street followed by someone on a loudspeaker the night before the Rodeo. Some past presidents have been George Pantling, Lindsay Wheeler, Brownie Macdonald, the late Ron Galland, and our present President Sandy Tee who has been there 18 years. Over the time we have lost a lot of good members whose contribution was invaluable. The late Jack Orlwski was first announcer.
Dave Harroway’s hack that he thought was too old to ride was put into the Rodeo string. His name was Spring; he was bucked out 14 times before he was written. In those early years West Dome Station owned by the Taylor brothers supplied most of the rodeos horses. They had quite a mob of them, mainly roans and there were some great escapades rounding up these horses before the rodeos.
One was we had the horses at the yards but Percy Taylor didn’t have the gate open so we lost them. We had to put some hacks out to get them back in. Once we got the horses from Te Anau Downs they certainly bucked and we got replacement hacks out of other horses that didn’t perform. One was called Manuka a skewbald and toughest horse you would never ride. Slowly over the years we built up a string of horses and they used to run up Sinclair Road on Te Anau block, strangely it is where I live now.
Over the years we have had lots of ups and downs, one down was we were talked into contributing along with other clubs to buy a set of portable yards for the rodeos, except they somehow went to the North Island never to be seen again.
A lot of farmer club members used to graze cattle to help the finances. Which seemed to rise and fall regularly but slowly we got to the stage where we could buy the first lot of new yards. We got the embankment built then the new chutes last year. We must thank all the farmers who grazed horses, supplied steers, calves etc. without their support we would not be in the position we are now. And to you the public who have been marvellous with your support through thick and thin over 50 years.
The Te Anau Lions Club have been with us for many years doing the gate of which they get a percentage and they reckon they have put back into the Te Anau community from the Te Anau Rodeo about $85,000 and The Fiordland Rotary Club with their food wagon will be about the same. So once again to you the public many thanks and thanks to the Te Anau Lions and Fiordland Rotary club for their continued support. We are one of the few rodeo clubs to make a profit out of running the national finals which we did in 2011 again it was from community support which made it happen.
To all our sponsors over the 50 years whether they are big or small we are indebted to you for your unfailing support. Hopefully you will be able to support us in the future.
Rodeo has changed over the latter years, quad bikes have replaced horses, it got harder getting bucking horses. A lot of farmers sold to dairy so we lost grazing, new health & safety rules, and new welfare codes make Rodeo a very challenging sport these days.
Myself and some of the older members have some great memories from over the past 50 years and we support the younger brigade who are taking over from us to keep it going for another 50 years. So thank you one and all for your support and if you have any early stories about the Te Anau Rodeo club please pass it on to a member. Finally to all the competitors over the 50 years thank you without you there would be never be rodeos.