The East Coast cowboys in full flight at Kaiaua

Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • Te Tai Rāwhiti

Age is no barrier for 83-year-old Dinah Atkins, competing in multiple races at the Tolaga Bay Beach Races now in its 50th year.

The East coast cowboys are in full flight and master horsewoman Dinah Atkins still holds a firm grip on the reigns.

Dina Atkins of Ngāti Porou says, “Well I hope I can reach the next year, I'm getting old you know, never know when I'm going to go perhaps today I might fall off the sharks will get me, no I love it”.

Over the year Dina Atkins has participated 18 times, this year aking part in 5 races.

“Because I love riding horses and I've been riding horses since I was a four year-old girl and then I got married, had children, but every time they grew up I got back on the horse again and come race”, says Dina Atkins.

Horse racing in Tolaga Bay has its roots in Wharekaka, North of Tolaga Bay from around 1876. The iconic event is a calendar highlight for the Uawa community.

Roxine Moran Haybib of Ngāti Porou says, “They're on horses they're not on the streets, not on video games, they're outside riding, they're in the bush, they're by the sea. The main thing for us, the horse riding families of Uawa, is to look after the next generation on the rise”.

Today, races are run mostly over 800m with a new breed of successors in the line-up.

Shanaia Lee of Ngāti Porou says, “So I'm 17, I've been doing it for three years and my horse has been doing it longer than me but I've been wanting to do it since I was 12”.

Roany-Lane Waru of Ngāti Porou says, “It's something that has just been a part of me, part of how I've been brought up OLAY it's our way of life aye”.

The Tolaga Bay Beach Race is an annual event.