DOGS, SHEEP-DOG TRIALS
New Zealanders began this unusual sport at Hakataramea, South Canterbury, in 1889, only 13 years after the first recorded public sheep-dog trials at Bala, Wales. The first trials in the North Island were at Porangahau in 1892. A national controlling organisation, the New Zealand Sheep-dog Trials Association (Inc.), was formed in 1957 when the North Island Association (founded 1910) and the South Island body (1932) were amalgamated. By 1965 there were 187 affiliated clubs, 107 in the North Island and 80 in the South, with about 9,000 members. Clubs are grouped into 13 centres, each with from 11 to 20 clubs. Each centre appoints two delegates to the national body, which is the sole authority for rules and bylaws governing all sheep-dog trials. One delegate also represents his centre on the association council, which is responsible for finance, arranging championships, appointing judges, and general administration.
National championships, of which the first was at Hawera, have been held every year (except during the war) since 1936, an unincorporated association having been formed in 1935 to run them. England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand are the only countries following the sport, and there has been little international competition because of quarantine regulations which restrict overseas movement of dogs, and because of differing standards. Individual New Zealanders have, however, done well in Australia.
New Zealand trials have kept their original character as tests of practical shepherding, the task set shepherd and dog being similar to those they meet in every-day work. Since ability to work at a distance and over difficult terrain is of prime importance, trial grounds are usually located where steep hillfaces meet convenient flat land. As these are usually far from towns and cities, many New Zealanders know very little about a sport which has become a distinctive and valuable part of their country's life.