Waikato Hunt on the move

Waikato Hunt Huntsman, Lauryn Robertson, at the new hunt kennels near Tirau. Photo: Catherine Fry.

Following a carefully thought out plan, a long search and a lot of time and effort from the hunt committee and wider circle of hunt members, the Waikato Hunt moved its kennels to a new property near Tirau.

Current Master of the Hunt, Andrea Miller, has played a role in the move, especially during the last two years.

“Our kennels had been at their Fencourt Road location in Cambridge since 1968 when it was a very rural location.

“Over the past 54 years the town has slowly crept nearer and nearer, until we were right on the boundary of the rural/residential area.”

Knowing that long term the hunt would have to move, forward thinking committee members lobbied the Council to have their land changed to rural/residential zoning.

This was successful and in the early 2000s, the Hunt subdivided their land into seven titles. Over the next two decades they looked at around 30 properties, but they didn’t cash in on the potential of their seven titles until an opportunity arose.

Andrea explains that an unexpected bequest to the Hunt of a property in Ohakune by a past member, Richard Bates, triggered a chain of events making the complex move possible.

“The existing tenant in Ohakune wanted to buy the house, so that funded us being able to subdivide eight acres we had opposite the main hunt property, which when sold gave us a healthy deposit for another property.”

New property

Initially the Hunt bought 35 hectares in Roto-o-rangi, but there were difficulties with the planning. However, there was a silver lining when the 2021 crazy housing market prices benefitted the subsequent re-sale.

“We decided that a small dairy farm would be a better option and bought the 70 hectare Tirau property in 2022. The developer who purchased Fencourt Road was willing to give us a long settlement period.”

The calf shed was stripped and fitted with covered horse yards, tack and feed rooms. Photo: Lisa Reid.

The race was then on to build new kennels and move the hounds to Tirau in 2023.

Sixty hectares of the farm is leased to a neighbour for dairy grazers and maize, and the main house is rented out. This generates a good, steady income for ongoing expenses.

The focus turned to the remaining 10 hectares, building kennels for the 30 strong pack of hounds, and renovating the second house for the current Huntsman, Lauryn Robertson.

“We decommissioned the cow shed and gutted it to build the kennels complex, using most of the existing structures and concrete areas. The calf shed was stripped and fitted with covered horse yards, tack and feed rooms.”

There are plans to extend the calf shed to make a memorabilia room to house the many years of history of the Waikato Hunt.

The kennel complex included ideas from other hunt kennels, making the most use of the existing structure and input from the hunt community to build something that was future proofed and would stand for another 50 odd years.

The spacious runs have shelter and day benches. Photo: Lisa Reid.

The design has eight runs, six large ones to house six hounds in each, and two smaller ones to house bitches on heat or puppies.

The remodelled cowshed has a good overhanging roof that offers a shaded area in the runs and accommodates insulated sleeping quarters for the hounds.

“We’ve brought in two shipping containers and use one as a freezer for the meat and one for dry food. I feed the hounds in a designated feed room and hose down the concrete floor,” says Lauryn.

A big move

Lauryn has been Huntsman with the Waikato Hunt and based at the Fencourt kennels for 25 years, so the move was a big one for him, as well as the hounds.

“The shift happened right in the middle of the 2023 hunting season, and we did it in one day.”

Lauryn transported his own four horses and the hounds to the new property and concentrated on settling them in. His sheep and beefies were trucked over by hunt members.

He says he wasn’t involved with the house move at all and other hunt members packed up his old home, brought everything over, and by the end of the day had everything pretty much set up and livable in the new house for which he is very grateful.

Ex-Master (1980-1983) and Patron of the Waikato Hunt, Jim Keyte, and current Master, Andrea Miller officially open the kennels. Photo: Lisa Reid.

“It takes a lot to shift a pack of hounds as they are initially unsure and don’t know the routine or what is expected of them, but they were pretty good and adapted well.”

At the start the raised wooden day beds for the runs weren’t ready but as soon as they arrived the hounds jumped on them.

“They love being higher up and sunbathing, watching the world go by.”

Ex-Master (1980-1983) and Patron of the Waikato Hunt, Jim Keyte, cut the ribbon at a Grand Opening of the Tirau kennels on October 7, 2023. Around 100 past and current members and neighbours attended.


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