Meet Puni Tiakiwai, the horse whisperer of Ruatoki
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Meet Puni Tiakiwai, the horse whisperer of Ruatoki

October 30, 2019


You could call him
the horse whisperer of Ruatoki. Horses are a big part of the life
of Puni Tiakiwai and his family. But as Te Okiwa McLean discovered, Puni is the unofficial
horse ranger’ of the district keeping an eye
on stray horses that have proven to be a hazard
for children and motorists. Taming and protecting horses
is a dying tradition in Ruatoki. They’re not worried
about their animals because they’ve got motorbikes
they can ride instead. Horses will never match the speed
of a motorbike. The children don’t learn
how to ride, they’re always on
their mobile phones mucking around. The way of taming and befriending
horses have gone by the wayside. Now the horses might get ridden
so the people can go for a swim. Puni Tiakiwai is well-known
in the Bay of Plenty district for his passion for horses. He is the one responsible
for rounding up all stray horses roaming the roads
of the Ruatoki valley. The community’s safety
is his priority. It isn’t ok to just let your horse
go around willy-nilly. So if you don’t want your horse, it’s better to sell it
to someone else to look after. Don’t let it roam
freely on the road. In winter there
isn’t a lot of vegetation for it. They also find the roads nice
and warm to stand on because the roads are absorbing
the heat from the sun. All his knowledge around horses was handed down by his father
to him, now, he has handed that down
to his children also. He leads the Ruatoki Horse Sports
Club and Ruatoki Hunting Club. He says horses
are extremely valuable. Horses are invaluable. All they cost is shelter and care. The children of Ruatoki need
to learn these ways so they can also understand
the value of the horse. So when the land has given its best, and there is no more fossil fuel
to run everything, I can still get on my horse. If I want to I can go to the store
by horse. The summer season sees
many of the people from Ruatoki return from the big city
for holidays and riding horses becomes an everyday activity. As summer looms Tiakiwai
has this warning for the residents of Ruatoki. For the people who
complain about their horses being taken to the pound need to think about the number
of people who have been killed or injured
and gone to hospital on our roads because of horses
left roaming around. There are many people who
abandon their horses because they get into trouble with the law. That’s what I want to warn
them about. I know who owns each
and every horse in this valley. As the saying goes what is the most important thing
in the world? It is people, it is people. Te Okiwa McLean, Te Karere.

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