Day at the races

By: Blogger

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP

Christmas is just around the corner, and with that comes the summer holidays. Families will gather together, make plans and head out for the fun and festivities of the season.

One of the major events that attract thousands of people and their families is the Tauranga Races for the much-anticipated Christmas Race meet on 15 December. My family looks forward to going to the races as it is a great place for communities, families and friends to gather.

It is also a sought-after event for work functions and corporate get-togethers.

Racing, however, is in decline due to legislative interpretations and previous lack of will by the former government to support an industry that is a poster child for the added-value exports. The racing industry is a large contributor to our economy, adding $1.6 billion to our economy. It also provides employment for over 17,000 people with a volunteer base of over 52,000.

A decade ago we had just under 10,000 brood mares and our racing industry was booming. However, the industry has now reached a crisis point, with around 3000 brooding mares today, which is seriously jeopardising our export potential.

We also need to look at job training and career pathways in the equine industry to once again encourage a once-thriving sector.

With the right support, this industry, with its positive economic and social outputs, will once again flourish. That is why the Racing Amendment Bill is a step in the right direction for the industry.