Bees & Trees is a small, family-owned business. At the heart of our business we do things a certain way. Not only do we do our best to bring you the highest quality Manuka honey on the Earth, we also do our best to respect the land we use and the communities in which we participate. One of the ways we do this is by sponsoring local organizations.
One such organization is the Eltham Takau Sheepdog Trial Club, located in the scenic Mangamingi valley on the North Island. Here’s a bit about the Club as described by Matthew and Jackie Francis, Glen Nui Station, Vice President & Secretary for Eltham Takau Dog Trial Club.
“To the uninitiated (which is anyone outside of New Zealand farming) most farmers in New Zealand who run sheep and cattle rely heavily on dogs to help muster or gather stock of their hills and paddocks and drive or herd them to other parts of the farm.
New Zealand farm dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but there are two main types, which is what the trials are based around. You have the heading dogs, which are generally smaller and sleek and quick on their feet. Their main skill is to control stock with their ‘eyes’ and mesmerize them in almost a hypnotic way to gain control. They are generally black and white in color, but sometimes can have a bit of tan coloring through them, then known as a tricolor.
Heading dogs in New Zealand have been widely regarded to have their origins from the Border Collie Dog. The Huntaway is a New Zealand specifically bred dog known for its big bark, generally a bigger dog than the heading dog. The power in its bark is what it uses to push stock around the farm. They are generally either black or black and tan color and can be rough or smooth coated.
The competition for the two different types of dogs is for the two heading events. The man stands at the bottom of the hill and sends his dog away to retrieve three sheep and bring them down to him and put in a ring or pen. For the Huntaway events, the man stands at the bottom of the hill and uses his dog to push three sheep up a hill through a series of flags.
All events have a time limit and as always, when you have man, dog, and three sheep, you have five different individuals sometimes wanting to do five different things, so the trust between man and dog is very important.
Sponsorship is a huge thing with small rural clubs in New Zealand, so we ask local businesses to help out, hence the Bees & Trees sponsorship. The company has partnered with quite a few farms in our valley for land use, so it’s a way of giving back.
Over the weekend we also run a fully catered cook shop that sells anything from sandwiches and cups of tea to full meals. A BBQ is provided both evenings serving up prime New Zealand beef steak. We also have a licensed bar that serves a range of drinks and that is generally where everyone ends up at the end of the day for the social side of the event.
So hopefully this gives you a bit of an insight into dog trials in New Zealand and how our club operates.”
Matthew and Jackie Francis
Vice President & Secretary
Eltham Takau Dog Trial Club
Glen Nui Station