The Tauranga Cup

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Last weekend, a thoroughbred race that dates back over a century was run at the Gate Pa track.

The Tauranga Cup, over one and a quarter miles, was run almost continuously until 1967, when it became the Bay of Plenty Cup.

The first reported running of the Tauranga Cup was in 1898, with the featured events at the Bay of Plenty Jockey Club meeting, being the three mile Hunt Steeplechase of 25 sovereigns and the Tauranga Cup worth 50 sovereigns.

From 1980 until 1997, the Cup raced under various names, before reverting back to the Bay of Plenty Cup in 1998.

The return of the Bay of Plenty Cup in 1998 brought special pleasure to local Gate Pa trainer Jim Pender.

O'Toole, who was raced by Jim Pender and his mother, cruised to a comfortable victory ridden by one of the pioneers of female jockeys in the country in Trudy Thornton.

A Tauranga Cup winner with strong local connections was Surveyor, who won the 1923 event.

Owned by William Paterson, who established a highly successful thoroughbred stud on Motiti Island, the well performed racehorse won 13 races in the Paterson colours including the 1925 Wellington Cup.

Sideline Sid is a history nut who likes nothing better to unearth stories and write about times of long ago.

The running of the recent Bay of Plenty Cup got him thinking about the life and times of Tauranga folk when the Tauranga Cup was first run in 1898.

New Zealand had a population of less than one million citizens, iconic New Zealand politician Richard Seddon was Prime Minister and a small old-age pension was introduced that year.

Tauranga was a sleepy fishing village, with Colonel Gerald Arnold Ward elected mayor, which reflected the towns strong links to the military.

Many of the citizens of the time would go on to experience a similar event to the coronavirus pandemic that we are undergoing at present.

In 1918, the world was decimated by an influenza epidemic that was known as the Spanish Flu.

No sooner than WW1 had ended, the influenza epidemic swept the country, ending the lives of half the number of New Zealand military that died in the entirety of the Great War.

It would be interesting to know how the country coped in 1918, compared with the how we are dealing with the coronavirus today.

While the Bay of Plenty Cup lost its identity in the 1980's and 1990's, it bounced back, just like New Zealand will come back to normality after living our lives in a different manner in the coming weeks and months.


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