Pounding hooves in the Porirua Harbour derby
Hold your horses – forget sandcastles and walks at sunset. The shores of Porirua Harbour were once used for horse racing.
The earliest recorded race meeting was reported in March 1862. Nearly 500 people, many on horseback, came to watch seven races along the harbour mudflats.
A newspaper report described the course as ‘‘… a good one, although rather heavy for the horses’’.
In the 1870s Jos Prosser and his brothers were operating Prosser’s Coaches which ran a service between Foxton and Wellington.
Prosser settled in Porirua and established himself as one of the best horse racing trainers in the Wellington region. His horses and jockeys won major jumping and handicap events in New Zealand and Australia.
Prosser and William Jillett organised early race meetings on the shores of Porirua Harbour and trained horses there.
Some residents recalled being able to lean out of their bedroom windows and hear the horses race up and down the beach. Prosser was reputed to have had a racecourse marked out and a spectators’ stand on his land in Porirua.