Horse racing is a sport where you seldom find Māori. But one Māori apprentice jockey in Pukekohe is paving the way and taking it in her stride.
Some would say Zinjete Moki was born to ride race horses.
Moki says, “The first horse I ever rode was a race horse, so it was a lot of falling off and bolting and all sorts.”
She started riding at the age of 18 and now eight years later is in her second year as an apprentice jockey. She's achieved a lot already.
“I rode a horse last year called 'Adrenaline Rush' and I won on him 3 times in a row. One on Boxing Day which is a premiere day, like quite a big deal and I was the only apprentice on that day, so I felt pretty cool.”
Her love of riding started when she saw her older cousin, Harmony Moki hit the race track.
“She always used to be going off to the races and stuff while I was at school and I just thought oh god that is so cool. She gets to ride horses instead of doing school work.”
5am training and cleaning the stables is all in a day's work for a young jockey. But it's her nutrition she struggles with.
“My weight for me, I'd be the heaviest girl in the jockey room and looking at me I'm not even the biggest. I've got quite a lot of muscle on me everywhere and I struggle with that a bit.”
Moki rides six days a week, which can take its toll on the body.
“You've got to have a little bit of grunt, little bit of dirt in you, because you can't go riding around the race track like la de dah. Nah you have to have a lot of aggression.”
Now Moki is preparing to ride at the Thames Cup on Sunday, where she will ride in three races.