The history of the Taumarunui Racing Club is a fascinating story of over 100 years to the present day.
Please note that we are still actively researching historical material and will add more interesting material as time goes by.
Mr Jimmy Ansford a surveyor makes a sketch map of a racecourse in the general area of what is now the Tarrangower Golf Course. Mr Ansford’s notes record that the track was first used by the Māori people of the area and then by a majority of people from the Taumarunui area. The riders would race for boxes of matches and similar prizes with the prize for the major event of the day being a packet of cigarettes.
On 29 August 1906 the Taumarunui Racing Club was formed. For details of the members of the inaugural (first) committee see.
On 9 November 1906 the Taumarunui Racing Club held its first race meeting at the Taumarunui Rangaroa Domain which is now the Tarrangower Golf Course and Tuhua Domain. See here for an interesting account of the meeting.
Race meetings were held on the Taumarunui Rangaroa Domain until 1909 when the bookmakers calling was taken away by legislation and the Taumarunui club had to cease holding racing meetings for a few years as it did not hold a totalisator permit.
The first totaliser meeting was held at Claudelands Racecourse sometime in 1915. It was reported that the Club made a satisfactory start with a profit of something over four figures.
On 3 February 1917 the Taumarunui Racing Club held its first “home” meeting at its newly acquired and fully developed racecourse right alongside the railway track between Taumarunui and Manunui which was donated by the government of the day as a “racecourse reserve”.
1932 – 1933
During this period the Taumarunui Racing Club became insolvent. The licence to hold meetings was taken over by the Ohinemuri Jockey Club and efforts were made to pay off the debt out of the personal pockets of the guarantors, albeit during the time of the Great Depression.
On 5 July 1939 a meeting was held of the Taumarunui Picnic Hack Racing Club. The organisation used the Manunui track and held its first race meeting on Labour Day, 23 October 1939. Races were held annually after that date.
On 6 December 1950 a resolution was passed to change the name of the Club from the Taumarunui Picnic Hack Racing Club to “Taumarunui Racing Club Incorporated” which came into effect in May 1951 following which formal negotiations were held with the Taumarunui Borough Council to lease the Manunui course.
Due to what is understood to be a lack of facilities at the Manunui Racecourse, negotiations took place for the renting of the Waipa Club Racecourse and races continued to be held each year thereafter until 1971.
On 29 July 1972 a very successful Jackpot Meeting was held at the Waipa Racecourse with a total of about 33,000 attending. The on and off-course turnover was $1,090, 858 with the total jackpot investment being $831,564.
Racing was moved from the Waipa (Te Awamutu) course to Te Rapa in 1986 where it stayed until 2015.
In 2016 the Taumarunui Racing Club moved its race meeting to Rotorua Racecourse where it remains today.
The members of inaugural committee of the Taumarunui Racing Club formed on 29 August 1906 were:
Patron: Mr J D Louch, President: Mr H de Vere Hunt, Vice-Presidents: Dr Cairns, Captain A Marshall, Messrs C J Ryan, A Bell, C L Innes, J Coutts, F Shellack, E Simmons.
Judge: Mr C Ryan, Starter: Mr C Dunster, Clerk of Scales: Mr A Dallas, Clerk of Course Mr H Smith, Treasurer: Mr C Steadman, Handicapper: Mr R Wynard (Auckland)
Stewards: President, Vice-Presidents, Clerk of Course, Clerk of Scales, (ex -officio) Messrs A Riches, C Dunster, M Hickey, C Steadman, T Taylor, T Dickson, G Dunlop, J Grogan, H T Guilford.
IT RAINED IN TORRENTS
This was how the “Taumarunui Press” reported the result of the first race meeting in their issue dated November 13th 1906:
The Taumarunui Racing Club was unfortunate in striking a very wet day for its first meeting.
Friday morning gave some promise of a fine day, but at 1 o’clock, however, rain was coming down in torrents, and during most of the races the course was a quagmire and necessarily very heavy.
Rain and cold atmosphere spoilt what would undoubtably have been a very pleasant and profitable gathering. Scratchings were rather too numerous to be pleasant. A number of bookmakers were on the ground and did fair business.
12.30 Manunui Hurdle Race of fifteen sovereigns, second 3 sovereigns from stakes. 1¼ miles over six flights of hurdles each 3′ 6″ high.
1.15 Maiden Race of 10 sovs. 7 furlongs.
2.15 Taumarunui Cup of 25 sovs. 1¼ miles.
3.00 Rangaroa Hack Welter Handicap of 7½ sovs. 1 mile.
3.45 Matapuna Handicap of 12½ sovs.
4.30 Forced Handicap of 10 sovs.
The Taumarunui Cup was won by H. Hunt’s Matahura. Second was J. Bellis’ Hokio. Third was P. Crosby’s Agrapus. Lunette and Stepney were left at the post. Hokio led til entering the straight, when the favourite took the lead and won by a length without the whip. Stepney was well backed. 10 horses were nominated; 5 accepted. The race was run in heavy rain.