PongaRoar 2024 – Pongaroa’s Annual Hunting Competition

Every year at Easter, the sleepy rural village of Pongaroa comes alive with the annual ‘PongaROAR’ Easter Hunting Competition, raising funds for the Grassroots Rescue Helicopter – a service we are very grateful for out here.

This Easter seemed to be one that gave us a few challenges – with Easter falling early in late March and a lack of cool mornings, any roar had not properly started. Topped with the very dry conditions, the pigs were even more challenging for the dogs to find. We had rain, we had wind, and we had one beautiful clear night with the stars out, which led to a gorgeous morning – an ideal dew on the ground, clear skies showing signs of a beaut day> Yet no pigs , so it’s safe to say, for the locals at least, some serious efforts were required to make an appearance with an animal at the weigh-in! Thankfully, come weigh-in time on Sunday at the Pongaroa Hotel, the weather behaved, and no tents or raincoats were needed. Even the notorious Pongaroa wind stayed away!

This year, the PongaRoar received the most entries we have ever had, with over 330 people entering – the kid’s section where rabbits, hares and turkeys are gathered, right through to juniors, Women’s, and Open. The team’s event – ‘The Roar 4’ – teams of up to 6 hunters, must weigh a Red, Fallow, boar and goat head. Sunday saw all these people arrive with trailers and ute decks loaded to the brim! With the deer still in pretty good condition, the animal weights were impressive, with the heaviest red being over 160kg, and the fallow, a whopping 78kg – 77kg, was the heaviest boar. Not to be outdone, the kids arrived in their masses with almost more animals than the trailer could cope with! The heaviest turkey was a massive 8kg! I’m sure there are some very happy farmers out there with all those pests gone.

We had our usual Kids Pig Carry competition, where we set up an obstacle course. The quickest time, carrying the pig, wins. They must weave through the scrub, push through vines, climb over bales of hay, and lastly, get across the pool full of water without falling over. We have four different age groups, and the younger kids are welcome to carry a rabbit or hare around the course. Competitors were putting in an extra effort here this year, with the TV crew from Kea Kids News making an appearance. They did a fantastic job showing our part of the country – how we can make something like hunting a great community event, raise funds for the Grassroots Rescue Helicopter, and put food on the table.

Everyone had decided to stick around for prize giving. With the help of Wairarapa Hunting and Fishing, we were able to give away a monocular thermal—its value is a huge $1,400. Hamish was a very happy man to win this, and so was his son, judging by the hands holding onto the box after they received their prize.

The new publican, Keith, and his team did a remarkable job keeping us all fed and watered – we are incredibly fortunate to have such a dedicated group supporting us and our fundraising cause. All of our sponsors, including Wairarapa Hunting and Fishing, went above and beyond this year. We had cube rolls to auction off, vouchers for Taxidermy, a Rugged Valley voucher, and a bunch of Bean Bags from Big Save Furniture, among other generous contributions. Sponsors play a crucial role in events like this, and despite the challenging economic conditions , their generosity was overwhelming, and we are truly grateful.

This year, we are able to donate a substantial $6,000 to the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter. It makes all that effort and organising so worth while when it goes to such a great cause . We are so very lucky to have them come and “save the day” out here! A big shout-out to the PongaRoar committee. You guys are a really wonderful bunch of people, and it wouldn’t be the same without you. Well done, team!

We look forward to Easter 2025 – you can follow us on Facebook, ‘The PongaRoar

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