19 Dec 2014

Waireka Polo Farm

From Country Life, 9:40 pm on 19 December 2014

Roddy Wood

It took Roddy Wood (above), one of New Zealand's top polo players, several years to convert a block of bare land near Sefton, into a tree lined equestrian centre that's now home to 70 well groomed polo horses. The property also has its own polo pitch, an elegant spectator pavilion and several stables.

Roddy is a former manager of the prestigious Guards Polo Club in England, the home club of Prince Charles and his sons, William and Harry. For many years he was the polo manager of the Palmera Polo Team for Sheikh Mohamed Alhamrani and, at the peak of his professional playing career, reached a six-goal handicap.

With the help of his three, polo playing sons, Charlie, Jimmy and Henry, Roddy offers coaching to international visitors wanting to improve their game.

He is passionate about encouraging young people into polo.

The New Zealand Polo Association has initiated a programme called Supa (Schools and Universities Polo Association) to introduce newcomers to the game and to break down the perception that you needed a lot of money to play the sport.

Roddy says, "I would just like to have five times as many people playing, I want more polo fields, more people joining and playing at clubs so we can become a much more competitive country".

The South Island programme is based at Waireka and students from at least 12 schools attend polo classes. Roddy provides the field, equipment and the horses so there is no costly outlay for the participants.

(Below) Henry Wood, Lizzie Odegaard, Ang Tshering and Glen Armstrong (photos by Cosmo Kentish-Barnes).