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Great initiative to preserve racing clubs' history given the changes being planned.
Bill Colgan
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Great initiative to preserve racing clubs' history given the changes being planned.

Archivists with a passion for racing have commenced digitally storing the records and photos of the NZ Racing Clubs including many that have already stopped racing. Photo highlights racing at Rawene in 1955.

An announcement last year that there will be dramatic changes from 2019 to New Zealand’s

thoroughbred racing industry including decreasing the number of racing venues, has raised

questions as to the future of racing club records which in some instances cover more than a



With a scholarship from the Ian McLean Wards Memorial Trust, Wellington archivists

and photographers Seán McMahon and Dylan Owen will this year be researching and

publishing a specialist records and archives guide for New Zealand thoroughbred horse

racing clubs.


The guide will offer practical advice on best practice for the long-term identification and

preservation of racing club records important for ongoing business and historical

research. It will also include a repository register which will make racing clubs aware of

 local historical repositories should they wish to deposit their archives with these



Given the longevity and local community importance of many racing clubs,

there is likely to be a wealth of documentary heritage material, representing an

invaluable resource for local researchers, historians, scholars and genealogists.

By preserving their racing archives, clubs will help keep alive the local history and spirit

of their communities.


In addition to preparation of their guide, Seán and Dylan will be conducting a nationwide

photographic survey of New Zealand racecourses, recording their current social, cultural and

historical features. Images will include architectural infrastructure, racetrack landscapes and

race day participants, including the thoroughbreds, their jockeys, trainers and owners.

Where appropriate, the photographic record will be deposited in local and national

repositories as a record of current racing activity.


The link below captures some of the work already established and depicts photos/records of many Clubs no longer racing.


The Chair of the Wards Trust, Dr Brad Patterson, expressed the Trust’s pleasure at being able

 to assist in the initiation of such an innovative project, one aimed at proactively encouraging

the preservation of a class of historical documents often overlooked by researchers and

collecting institutions. It was hoped that the project would also draw support from the wider

racing industry.



For further information contact:

Sean McMahon,

Dylan Owen,


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