At Horse of the Year 2013, Sergeant Nigel Hurley recognised a health and safety issue that was begging to be addressed.

Competitors were not wearing helmets as they rode their quad bikes around the Hawke's Bay showgrounds.

When about 700 horse trucks assembled at Horse of the Year, the showgrounds became "a village within a town," said Mr Hurley. Riders used quad bikes to get from their horses to their trucks, turning the roads that criss-cross the grounds into dusty thoroughfares.

Pressing the need for change, Mr Hurley worked with Horse of the Year director Kevin Hansen, along with Equestrian New Zealand, Federated Farmers, FMG, Young Farmers groups, rural police staff, Ericksen Honda and Worksafe.


Together they devised systems to encourage helmet use and prevent head injuries in the agricultural and events arenas. Before Horse of the Year 2014, riders were advised that police would be monitoring helmet use at the event.

The work had paid off, Mr Hurley said.

"Last year, 5 per cent of people on bikes were wearing helmets. This year, it's 1 per cent who aren't wearing helmets."

Mr Hurley, who is the community relations sergeant in Napier, is in charge of monitoring quad and motorbike safety at Horse of the Year 2014.

"We've seen a huge reduction in people riding without a helmet and it has been 12 months in the making," he said. "We're hoping this will contribute to a wider awareness of quad bike safety."

Kevin Hansen was more than happy to co-operate with police efforts to encourage helmet use.

"I used to be one of the worst offenders. I grew up in an age where a helmet wasn't needed. These days, it's different."