Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


The economic pinch is having far reaching affects, seen in the low number of applications to adopt Kaimanawa horses this year.

Date:  11 May 2010

The economic pinch is having far reaching affects, seen in the low number of applications to adopt Kaimanawa horses this year. Low feed availability from drought conditions experienced in many regions across the country, and tighter budgets generally, is likely to see many horses ending up at the abattoir than can be re-homed.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages the Kaimanawa wild horse herd on the Army’s Waiouru Military Training Area near Waiouru. Left unchecked the herd naturally increases at around 20-25% each year, despite the harsh environment of the central North Island. For the last 14 years the herd has been managed by annual mustering, with as many horses as possible being placed in new homes across the North Island. This has ensured the herd remains sustainable and healthy, and damage to threatened species and ecosystems in this fragile landscape is kept to a minimum. More than 120 horses will be mustered this year, leaving around 300 still roaming wild.

The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust (KWHWT) and the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society (KWHPS) have been working hard all year to find suitable homes for as many horses as possible. Elder Jenks, President of KWHWT, is concerned that even young horses may not find homes. “Last year we had people offering homes for several horses on one farm, but this year most applications are for just one,” says Mr Jenks.

If people are not in a position to keep a horse they can be a sponsor.  The sponsorship funds help to feed and train horses while new homes are sought. It also supports research into immuno-contraception which is likely to be a useful tool in the longer term.

The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group advises and assists DOC in managing the herd. Membership includes the two horse welfare groups, tangata whenua, RNZSPCA, Forest and Bird, NZ Veterinary Association, NZ Defence Force and NZ Army, Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, and neighbouring landowners.

“Adopting a Kaimanawa horse is easy,” says DOC’s Area Manager Jason Roxburgh. “You just apply to either of the re-homing groups, who will talk you through the process and ensure prospective owners have a suitable environment for the horses”. Applications need to be submitted now if you are interested in adopting a Kaimanawa horse from the 2010 muster. Both groups have a similar process to approve owners, and offer follow up and support to people who to adopt horses.

Contact details for the groups are available on the You can help Kaimanawa horses web page.

back to top


Jason Roxburgh
Palmerston North Area Manager

Manawatu Base
Phone:   +64 6 350 9700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   717 Tremaine Avenue
Palmerston North 4414
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11010
Palmerston North 4442

More information:

Kaimanawa horses

Back to top