Some of the best horsemanship skills in the country were on display at the national polocrosse championship which returned to the Mid North for the first time in nearly three decades last Friday and Saturday.
Event spokesperson Rhonda Zielinski described the two-day championships as "absolutely awesome" from the organisers' perspective.
"It went really, really well. Everyone [who came] from down the line enjoyed the atmosphere, the venue, everything," she said.
From a local perspective, the highlight was seeing Northland take out the Division 3 title, a great effort for a very young team in which most of the riders were under 16.
"That was the one final we made which we knew we had a shot at," she said.
It was also pleasing for two local riders, Kyla Zielinski and Tawa Holyoake, to be selected for the New Zealand team heading to Australia to compete in the Albury junior championships next week.
Overall, the event attracted 19 teams representing the various districts across New Zealand competing over four divisions (divisions 1, 2 and 3 and mixed) with several of the 114 riders in action having competed at elite level nationally and further afield.
Once again, the Waikato team's pedigree at the equestrian sport came to the fore, winning the division 1 and 2 titles. Rhonda singled out the Shane Hill/ Beth Peaker whanau who rode for Waikato as did their children, Jesse and Kyla. All featured predominantly at the event prizegiving on Saturday evening.
The nationals were held at the Kaikohe Showgrounds and run by the Kaikohe Polocrosse Club and Northland Polocrosse Association. Rhonda said the support the nationals received from the Far North business community had been "amazing".
"When they read out the list of sponsors, it was just businesses from Kaikohe and Kerikeri and it just went on and on and on.
"Local businesses really got behind this. We are just so grateful."
Results from 2017 PoloX Inter Association Championships in Kaikohe, March 31 and April 1:
Waikato beat Auckland, Best one (a player's position in polocrosse which Rhonda said could be likened to a netball goalshoot): Jason White, best two (akin to a centre in netball): Sarah Peaker, best three (similar to goalkeep): Martin White, best pony: Jelly ridden by J White.
Waikato 3 beat Wanganui Waimarine 1, best one: Jesse Hill, best two: Cilla Kenny, best three: Zane Neill, best pony: Pogo ridden by Z Neill.
Northland beat Central Plateau, Best one : Kayla Murray, best two: Melissa Marlow, best three: Ty Murray, best pony: Shazza ridden by T Murray.
Waikato beat Central Plateau, best female one: Kyla Hill, best female two: Mirren Tye, best female three: Beth Peaker; best male one: Shane Hill, best male two: Regan Gloyn, best male three: Damien Harris, best pony: Cyclone ridden by B Peaker.
Other awards were, (best) ASHS female horse: B Peaker's Cyclone, ASHS male horse: S Hill's Blue, Peter Tye Memorial Trophy (for best horse and rider combination) S Hill on Blue, Best Veteran Player: Jill Hearsey.