Bu­reau­cracy catches up with GY races


Talk about bu­reau­cracy. This year Glenorchy Race Day or­gan­is­ers had to ap­ply for re­source con­sent for the first time.

‘‘It’s pretty frus­trat­ing. When you’re get­ting a bit older you don’t like all these rules,’’ mut­ters chief or­gan­iser and Lake­side Rugby Club pres­i­dent Bruce Douglas.

It’s not the first time bu­reau­cratic change has been thrust on the pop­u­lar an­nual event, which has main­tained the same for­mat for its 55-year his­tory, and lived by its own rules at the re­mote head of Lake Wakatipu.

Back in 2003 a re­porter dis­cov­ered the to­tal­isator was be­ing run with­out a li­cence and pub­lished the fact, draw­ing it to the at­ten­tion of the Depart­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs.

‘‘We were pretty pissed off. We thought it would de­stroy our bloody races,’’ Douglas re­calls.

There were threats to tar and feather the re­porter, but ul­ti­mately the or­gan­is­ers had to ac­cept that if the event was to con­tinue it would have to change to a le­gal equal­isator sys­tem where you can’t pick your own horse and odds are set.

Douglas says it did kill the big prof­its made by the club, all of which went back into the com­mu­nity, but it is still a great day out and plenty of money con- tin­ues to be spent.

For the small town, pop­u­la­tion 363 at the 2013 Cen­sus, it is the big­gest day of the year and the largest fundraiser.

Up to 3500 peo­ple at­tend, with about 60 horses and rid­ers.

Lo­cals are the main ben­e­fi­cia­ries, with or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the First Re­sponse, fire brigade, swim­ming pool, school, mu­seum, church and the skate board park get­ting large amounts of fund­ing.

The ‘‘dozen-or-so’’ mem­bers of the rugby club look af­ter it and run the event, but the club doesn’t re­ally ben­e­fit. It is the only rugby club in New Zealand with­out a team - a fact now the sub­ject of a Speights bot­tle top ques­tion.

The other sig­nif­i­cant year in the event’s his­tory was 1994 - the only year the event was called off part way through due to flood­ing.

Gary McCormick just hap­pened to be film­ing that year and then be­came stuck in the town af­ter the road washed away, along with hun­dreds of other pun­ters.

About ten days later the Earnslaw was sent down to shift peo­ple out.

Douglas says the or­gan­is­ers will be stick­ing with their usual for­mula on Jan­uary 7.


Com­peti­tors in ac­tion dur­ing the 50th An­niver­sary Glenorchy Race meet­ing, 2012.

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