About Us

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Horse Trekking – Experience the beauty of Waiheke Island on horse-back

Waiheke Horseworx is a family business, owned and operated by couple Karina and Paora, a modern day blended family!

Between them they have 5 beautiful girls, Zoe, Tara I Te Rangi, Asha, Macy and Kahurangi. So we have a busy life to say the least!

Our horses are (almost) famous having featured on some well-known movies, which means they are well-trained with quiet natures to cater for all levels of ability.

A bit of background from Karina…

I have been horse-crazy ever since I was old enough to know what a horse was! Growing up with parents who were not “horsey” in any way or form they did their best to support this passion.

I was born in Canada and as a child I lived in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. There was a small ranch at the bottom of the road and I remember spending many hours standing on the side of the road watching horses in the field, dreaming about being close to them.

In 1982 we moved to New Zealand. Even as a child I felt like I was returning home. After a short time living in Devonport, Auckland we moved to New Plymouth, Taranaki and to my delight there were ponies everywhere!

At 10 years old, after a year of riding any horse or pony I could possibly get my hands on, I thought I knew how to ride, so I finally convinced my father to buy me a pony.

Bonnie it was!

Bonnie was an older pony, a 12hh pinto mare who knew all the tricks of the trade and she had it all over me…. for a while anyway! She had the typical mischievous pony nature and with no saddle, merely a bridle and my helmet, let’s just say Bonnie taught me a few hard lessons, including how to land well properly when biting the dirt, maintaining balance while pig-rooting (bucking) and holding on for dear life while being side-swiped and clothes-lined! Needless to say, Bonnie was one of those ponies that had managed to get her own way a lot and had developed a few bad habits!

However, call it passion or stupidity, I persisted and she started to settle down. Bonnie was a good teacher! By the time I moved onto my second pony I had had a good start and I was still as passionate as ever!

After Bonnie came Prince, a lovely station-bred gelding and then Bubs, followed by Lady.

After travelling and giving horses a break for a few years, I returned to NZ and purchased an appaloosa gelding called Buddy. And a buddy he was, my best mate. I had a connection with Buddy I could not explain but sadly he fell ill and passed on 3 years later. I still miss him every day. By then I had bought Kaiya a lovely standard-bred mare that was retired from the track. I put her to a Clydesdale stallion and 11 months later Shaman was born. The bug had started, I had begun to collect horses…

I then purchased Pouakai (Shaman’s sister), a pure Clydesdale weanling filly sired by the same stallion as Shaman. She was beautiful in every way but sadly Pouakai has now passed on.

I was then given a rescue weanling filly, Gypsy — the herd was growing. Then came Tigger. Tigger is a New Zealand Kaimanawa Pony (NZ wild horses). I purchased Tigger as a weanling from the wild muster. He has a heart the size of the sun.

Dofus came to me through a close friend, originally named Tex but it never stuck! He always was, and always will be, a Doofus! That same friend Sheryl has supported me for many years and many horses have gone between us including Kaiya, Tango, Doofus, Mercedes, Cash and Poppy.

Most of the herd are still with me today. Shaman, Gypsy, Kia and Mercedes have all had foals which are also now part of the family. Shine is Shaman’s filly, sired by a Percheron stallion, and Rango is Gypsy’s colt (now a gelding!) also sired by the same stallion. Mercedes is Poppy’s dam and Kaiya is also Tango and Cash’s dam. Poppy, Tango and Cash all have the same sire.

In addition to this I have acquired Deago, Zeal, Kepa, Giddeon, Cheyanne and Chester. Chester is a miniature pony with a huge personality, he may be small on the outside but in his eye’s he stands 18 hands high!

A bit about Paora…

Paora was introduced to horses when we met. He had not had much previous experience around horses but was instantly drawn to Gypsy who is a bit of a misfit! Gypsy is not nasty but an incredibly sensitive mare who is also very dominant. Not always a good combination!

Gipsy is, and always will be, only for a capable rider with a soft hand and a gentle heart.

To begin with I was a bit anxious around this unusual connection as Paora had not had a lot of experience. However it soon became very clear that the connection between Paora and Gypsy was mutual. Paora has a natural ability around horses, unusual in someone who has not been around them for a lifetime.

As a clinical psychologist, Paora appreciates the sensitivity of horses and how intuitive they are.

Paora has spent many years of his life travelling to different corners of the world including time studying Buddhism with Tibetan Buddhist Monks in Nepal and India. Paora has practised as a clinical psychologist since 2000 and in recent years connected with the work of Byron Katie.

As a Maori clinical psychologist who speaks Maori Paora has been involved in taking workshops all over New Zealand in remote Maori communities, addressing social issues and historical trauma. He has worked for many years in youth development, and through this became inspired to make a film about youth at risk, developing their creative potential rather than their using drugs and alcohol.

‘Hiding Behind the Green Screen’ was the first of many films. Following this came ‘Tatarakihi: The Children of Parihaka’ and ‘Te Awa Tipua: Voices From The River’.

Paora’s latest film ‘Maui’s Hook’ has been completed and is due to be released in early 2018. Maui’s Hook is a feature film which communicates a strong message on the prevention of youth suicide.

Paora is very passionate about humanity and its connection with the natural world, which brings us back to horses!

Together we, alongside our equine team, are developing a range of programmes and workshops using equine-assisted learning and equine therapy.

These programmes include; youth development, youth at risk, confidence building, team building, leadership, connecting with nature, understanding body language, building resilience, community riding programmes, school holiday programmes and Cultural Marae experiences.

During the peak summer season on Waiheke our team of horses are available for trail rides so people can experience the beauty of Waiheke Island, the whenua (land), the culture and history, past and present from the back of very special creatures, horses.

Tikapa is the sea, Moehau is the mountain, Waiheke is the land, standing for all time. To you people from all parts of the world, carried here by the four winds. We welcome you with open arms to our home.

Ko Tīkapa te moana, Ko Moehau te maunga, Ko Waiheke te whenua tū tonu, tū tonu. E ngā iwi, E ngā waka, E ngā hau e whā, nau mai haere mai ki te manākitanga ō mātou kāinga.

A bit about Karina continued…

I have a fierce passion for these incredible animals; I see them as teachers. I love to be in their presence and share this experience with others. Horses have a close relationship with nature and I am awed by their ability to bring one into the moment, to be present, to breath and to simply be alive.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to work in the film industry with horses which was a great experience and learning opportunity. I worked as a horse and animal wrangler for Warriors Way, Kingdom Come and The Hobbit Trilogy.

Some of my herd have also had a bit of a film career. Shaman first worked on 10,000 BC, followed by Warriors Way and then The Hobbit Trilogy. Tigger, Doofus, Gypsy and Giddeon have also flirted with the bright lights as Hobbit horses!

During the pre-production and the filming of The Hobbit I found myself surrogate mother to a little lamb I named Rocket and a piglet called Sweet Pea. Rocket and Sweet Pea are still part of the family although they are not so little anymore! I also adopted Fred the Goat (also from the Hobbit) and newer additions are Precious the pig and young goats Tiger and Raphael.

On occasion I still work for the camera as an animal wrangler and trainer. In recent times I worked on the NZ tv series The Cul de Sac, a NZ teen drama with a dog called Ewya, a beautiful white shepherd who belongs to a friend. The most recent to date was a lot of fun working with Fred the goat on NZ web series Ahikaroa by Kura productions.

I moved to Waiheke as I saw an opportunity to start a new business, Waiheke Horseworx, and to raise my children on this beautiful island. This is when I met Paora.

Paora and I are blessed to have our 5 gorgeous girls as well as the horses and animals and we live in paradise! I am very grateful for my life and everything in it.