National | East Coast

Te Kaha horse trekking business asks for help to stay

Standfast Stables is a horse trekking pākihi Māori created by the Grant whānau in Te Kaha.

They teach rangatahi to ride and train horses, as well as run horseback rides along the Kereū River for whānau.

Aroha Grant, one of the stables' founders, says the stables were founded in 2018 solely because of her love of horses.

“We started as East Coast Horse Treks first and that started in 2018 and as a family business, we found and bought horses, saddled them up and went for a whānua ride, anywhere and everywhere.

“One particular ride in 2018, we felt how amazing it was being together, being on horses as a family and we thought, how amazing it would be to share this experience with others.”

Grant says when her whānau were debating how to start their business in 2018, she realised that the best way to do it was to honour their father, who was well-known in the horse industry.

She says the greatest time for their company was in the summer because the weather was ideal for vacationers.

They promoted the horse treks on all social media platforms, and people from all over came to Te Kaha to learn how to ride and trek down the Kereū River, and she says she felt supported by everyone who came.

“Since the establishment of the Standfast Stables, we as a whānau now have Standfast Horsemanship with my brother and Standfast Photography with my sister, so to be doing this with my siblings is a privilege, especially doing it with my whole whānau”.

Rangatahi from all over the East Coast have attended Aroha's horse training sessions to learn how to ride in local contests and to simply gain the skills required to be a competent horse handler.

“We have been training with our whānau and rangatahi all summer, from November till now for horse competitions this year. This weekend we will be heading to Opotiki for the final horse sport event of the season, which is Peggy’s day”.

Grant describes Peggy's Day as a day when many riders travel from everywhere in the region to take part in various horse events.

'Perfect location'

“Peggy’s day was established for a well-known kuia in our region. We use this time to acknowledge and appreciate all our whānau who gather for Nanny Peggy and gather to meet and be together as a collective”.

However, some of the other owners of their whānau whenua want Standfast Stables to relocate their horses and business.

Grant says the possibility of needing to move is unfortunate. She hopes whanau and the community will change her relatives’ minds.

“We don’t want to leave and relocate all of our horses because this is such a perfect location. There's enough room for all of our kids to train, it’s where I whakapapa to and we have such a deep connection with our whenua but, for now, we just need whānau to show support to our business by posting and commenting on all social media platforms.”

“The greatest way for us to stay on this whenua and continue with our mahi is to reach out and share the wonderful effects that Standfast Stables have had on you and your whānau, as well as all of our rangatahi in Te Whānau-a-Apanui.”

Standfast Stables will participate in the Opotiki event today before returning to Te Kaha to continue its mahi of educating and providing opportunities for rangatahi on the East Coast to acquire and build horsemanship abilities.

“Our driving factor is living the legacy of our father and giving our rangatahi opportunities to experience something positive.

“Their eyes, they light up everytime they learn something new and they just love being a part of this kaupapa, they love owning it and claiming Standfast as their own, so we need whānau to see and understand the impact that we are having on our rangatahi.”