Club set to move
It's taken nearly 40 years but the Papakura Pony Club is finally about to get its own home.
The club, which has been around since at least 1961, has been using back paddocks on land on Rosehill's Walker Rd since 1975.
The landowner let members build a clubhouse and a jumping course and have up to 120 riders and their ponies trekking all over his land.
But the club has been less welcome since a new owner moved in, vice-president Rudi Kats says.
“And you can understand that, to a point, because every Saturday and Wednesday night there's people invading your property."
Its uncertain future reduced the club's membership to 10 at one point, Mr Kats says.
When the former Papakura District Council bought 100 acres (40.4 hectares) at Opaheke, the club saw its chance and applied for a resource consent to use the land.
That was granted last year but parties as diverse as orienteering and model aeroplane flying are also keen to use the reserve land.
The Auckland Council also wants to develop temporary accommodation for rugby and soccer clubs while their fields are refurbished.
Mr Kats says the council has to be as efficient as possible with the land.
Instead of just giving the pony club a site, it is possible an extensive equine facility could be built there - which he believes the club would support.
“You could get together with horse and cart riding people, adult riding clubs, riding for disabled, the schools - they could all come and use the facilities.”
Whatever the long-term future of Opaheke Reserve, for now the pony club will have a home.
Spokeswoman Charlotte Haycock says the council is pulling together a land owner consent which will allow the club to use the area. Long term the council will keep working with the club and other equestrian groups and sporting codes “to develop the land for a range of recreational purposes”, she says.
Mr Kats is aware the club “may well have to give up some of our land at some stage but take some other land somewhere else”.
The club wants to get on the land as soon as the weather warms up - the pony club season normally runs from September to March.
Mr Kats says he had seen the value of the club since his daughters joined two years ago. “Parents like me get sucked in on the basis that girls fall in love with the ponies and then they don't look at boys."
Club member Kelsey Ross, 16, agrees. “In pony club season you don't really have any time to socialise.”
The Rosehill College student says the club has taught her responsibility and how to look out for younger kids. She's also made some great friendships.
“Having a home will make a big difference to the club - we'll be able to go during the week and use it as much as we want," Kelsey says.
Mr Kats agrees there are many benefits to having a home.
“You can grow, you can plan, we can get funding."
He is also hoping membership will increase once the consent is finalised.
New members - who must be under the age of 25 - can apply through the website, by calling Jo Baker on 294 6626 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Equestrian clubs interested in using facilities at Opaheke are also encouraged to get in touch with the club.
For more information see: papakuraponyclub.org.nz