Rodeo community celebrates matriarch

By Taroi Black
  • North Island: East Coast

The Ōpōtiki community has commemorated stalwart Peggy McDonald in a horse sports event named for her.

Late last August the life of the much loved matriarch of the rodeo community was cut short. Peggy helped build Māori horse sports to benefit riders from around the country, work that began 16 years ago.

Friend and event organiser Tina Peters says Peggy was dedicated to the community, "She was just one lady that was there unconditionally."

The event has honoured the rodeo legend by adopting her name to replace the old. It is now called Peggy McDonald Horse Sports, or Peggy McDonald Day.

Her twin daughters, Vanessa and Filma remember the many causes their mother gave her time to.  

"She helped a lot with horse sports but she knew a lot of people in the farming world, she was a farmer," says Vanessa McDonald.

In the competition, 10 teams vie for top honours in six disciplines. Bill Peters says competition is fierce regardless of the age, "It's very fast. It's all done on speed and from kids to adult, it doesn't really matter, they can all do the same."

But for Tina Peters it's the cultural character of the event which makes it unique.  

"It's a totally different environment to pony club, it has its own cultural component to it for us as Māori," says Peters. 

For more on the Peggy McDonald Horse Sports held at the Ōpōtiki Rodeo Grounds, tune in Te Kāea at 5:30pm.