A 10-year old boy has died after being dragged by a bolting horse just before sunset yesterday. His family in Waiomio, Northland, were in shock last night and trying to understand how the tragedy could happen.
Wiremu Mahanga, 38, last night told the Herald on Sunday the lad was his cousin. "It's really sad," Mahanga said. "I knew him ever since he was two or three. In the summer, when the grass was high, you'd see these little heads pop up and he was one of those kids. The horses would be running around them."
Mahanga said his cousin loved horses and was not afraid to break in wild ones. "I'd say he was still in the paddock trying to maybe catch one of the horses. As young as he was, he was really confident."
Mahanga said most kids in the small, rural settlement had their own horses. It was not clear if the horse had been broken in.
"He loved the horses. He used to live out here but he moved back to his parents' in Whangarei. But every holidays, every time you saw him, he was always out their on the horses," Mahanga said.
Mahanga said the accident was a mystery."There are a few wild stallions, and that's what I was trying to find out. Was he on one of the wild ones? Was he trying to break in one of the wild horses?"
He said whanau had gathered at Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa to support one another last night. Close family members were too devastated to comment last night.
Mahanga said his cousin's grandmother had been his caregiver when the parents were away from the area for work.
"His grandmother stays just down the road. I saw some lights outside my front gate and it was the ambulance.
"The horse had dragged my little cousin through about two fences and stopped at my driveway."