The North Otago A&P Show is being held for the 155th time at the Oamaru Showgrounds today and tomorrow. It would have fizzled out decades ago without volunteers like equine convener Elizabeth Prentice. In her lunch break from her day job as teacher in charge of agriculture at Waitaki Boys’ High School, she spoke to reporter Sally Brooker.
Q: Are you snatching time out from teaching 14-year-old boys?
They’ve been great. I must acknowledge the school – it’s very supportive of the show. I’m bringing 20 boys to help out. They will build the showjumping arena and help a lot of the competitors on show day. Last year they dug out all the old stables. I give them lots of lollies.
Q: How long have you been in North Otago?
The first time, the second time, or this time? I got here in May 2014. I taught at St Kevin’s College in the 1990s and I was a Maf farm consultant here in the 1980s. One of my work colleagues then was (A&P stalwart) Murray Elliott. I’m teaching the grandsons of clients from the 1980s.
Q: How did you get involved with the North Otago A&P Association?
I was sitting around at a meeting with [A&P steward] Murray Isbister. He roped me in, when he realised I had a long history with horses. I said, “I think I’ve just done something very, very silly.” I’ve had both hips replaced, so because I couldn’t ride, it wasn’t such a sacrifice as it would have been.
Q: Have you always ridden?
I’ve been riding all my life. I always wanted a pony.
Q: Where did you grow up?
We moved a lot. My father was the head designer for Bata. He designed the Red Band gumboots. I competed [at riding] here in the 1980s. I’ve still got horses – way too many of them. I’ve got a 10-acre block just out of Maheno.
Q: If you were prime minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
I probably wouldn’t get pregnant.
Q: If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be?
Alois Podhajsky, Andrew McLean, and Darwin. If there could be a fourth, it would be Billy Connolly. Alois Podhajsky was the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. He was one of the first to see the horse as more than a machine, as part of the dance. Andrew McLean is an Australian animal behaviourist. He has a PhD in animal behaviour and was a competitive horse rider. I’ve been to his lessons. He brings in the science. I love it.