Introduction to the Kihikihi Polo Club
Kihikihi Polo Club is one of the oldest polo clubs in the Waikato, being formed in 1892.
The Kay family has been involved since it’s inception with the fifth generation of Kay’s playing today.
In it’s early days, for reason’s unknown, the press refered to the club as the Te Awamutu club, despiote the members describing themselves as Kihikihi and it wasn’t until after World War II in 1946 it converted back to being Kihikihi after playing as Te Awamutu the year before so called Alpha and Omega.
The Club affiliated with the APPA (Auckland Provincial Polo Association) and NZPA in 1910 and at that time they played on William Taylor’s Greenhill Estate, the site of the now Waipa Racing Club.
The club also held sports meetings where the bowling and croquet greens in Te Awamutu are now located.
Later, polo was played at Orakau and was also played at Waikeria. Prior to the second World War, they played on Allan Kay’s property at Parawera and after the War, a meeting held in 1946 suggested the club play polo at the Kihikihi Domain, where their base has been ever since.
The first time the club challenged the Savile Cup was in 1913 when they travelled to Palmerston North via train. They beat two stronger teams but lost in the finals to a more experienced team from Mangahaeia. The club then hosted the APPA for the first time at “Greenhill” and beat Ohaupo for the Provincial Cup.
The club featued strongly in the 1930’s winning a series of cups.
The glory days for the Kihikihi Club were in the ten years from 1952 when they first won the Savile Cup. They went on to win seven times in the next ten years and played in nine finals in that time. It was 30 years before the club had any more success when the next generation won at Tangimoana in 1991.
The players were in many open finals in this period, with only one success. However, they were successful in the Handicap finals and Hamish Wilson Cup.
The prestigious Savile Cup indeed alluded the club for another period of time, with success final coming again in 2008.
In the early years the handicap system rated individual players from 0 to 10 and it wasn’t until the middle 1950’s when New Zealand travelled to Australia 1954, and England 1956, that they found the teams over handicapped by about 3 goals so in 1957, NZPA decided all handicaps be reduced by 3 and so the new system started players at -2 which became universal.
Ponies are an integral part of the polo game and must have the ability to be quick to stop, turn and accelerate when called for and be able to win a “ride off” when demanded.
The club can boast a fantastic line of homebred ponies which have been sort after world wide.
Savile Tournament 1913
Back Row L to R : Orakau Kay, Jim Kay, Willie Kay
Front Row: Frank Taylor, Allan Taylor
Savile Tournament 1952
Kihikihi A Team at Claudelands
L to R: Len Kay, Edward Kay, Allan Elliott, Tony Kay
Savile Tournament 1991
Kihikihi A Team triumphant winners
L to R: Edward Kay, Andrew Parrott, Richard Jolly, Stephen Kay, Paul Kay
Savile Tournament 2008
Kihikihi A Team jubilant winners
L to R: Andrew Parrott, Robert Watson, Hamish Ormond, Barrett Watson
(no Kay’s !!)