Tokomaru Bay horseman Tui Teka has been crowned champion of this year's The Way of the Horse challenge at the inaugural Equitana Auckland Festival after successfully breaking in a wild horse over four days.
From horseman to champion, Tui Teka has become the first Māori to win The Way of the Horse challenge at the internationally acclaimed equestrian event.
Teka says, “It’s been an amazing journey for me. It's the first time and I've really enjoyed this week and getting to meet everybody and that's what it's about. I'm the first Māori to win this challenge. It's an honour to show my family and our people my abilities to work with a horse. That's been the main thing."
The 24-year-old won over judges including New Zealand Olympic Showjumper Andrew Nicholson, Natural Horseman John Lyons and world renowned German gold medal dressage coach John Hilberath proving he had gained the trust of his horse leading it successfully through a set of obstacles in the final challenge.
Teka beat out his three competitors, Australian duo Brett Davey and Sharna Little, and New Zealander Emily Weibel.
Nicholson says, “They were all very special horse people, they understood what they were doing and they did it very well."
But Lyons says Teka demonstrated he had more control of the horse.
“He did have a very good lesson plan. When he ran into problems he had enough control on the horse to be able to stop the horse bucking so he did a very good job.”
The title comes with international recognition. Equitana, being one of the world's biggest equestrian trade shows held in major cities in Europe, Australasia and the USA.
Teka says, “Just getting my name through the door, just getting exposed to who I am and obviously being a Māori. That's not exposed a lot in these types of events, but here we are. Champion.”
Teka carries the title into the New Year.