Forty-five years since the beginning of the NZ Hanoverian Society

By Judith Wear, November 2023.

From left – Bridget Sutton, Judith Matthews, Judith Wear and Gaye Withers

In 2007, after 30 years of breeding registered Hanoverian horses, the members of the New Zealand Hanoverian Society continue their success. Breeders are producing top quality foals, and many are growing into high performance horses competing in dressage, eventing and showjumping.

With the ability to use frozen semen from approved stallions and the approval to produce quality blood lines using embryo transfers we are seeing some world class youngsters on the ground for our visiting Verband classifiers to judge and make comments.

Each year at the AGM our Society has been awarding top studbook mares with framed certificates.  For the fifteen years between 2007 and 2023 nine mares have won studbook awards. Since 2017 (after Rheinland mares were added to the studbook) seven Rheinland mares have won one of these certificates. Matthews’ Hanoverians have six of these top mares and Stoneylea have five.

Prize giving table at AGM

In the early years, New Zealand had classified Hanoverian stallions that were used mainly to produce dressage horses but some of the horses born here were trained and went on to become international eventing competitors and showjumpers.

After 2007 Landro L was imported. In 2009 Prestige VDL KWPN was licensed in New Zealand with Jocken Wilkens as head of the commission. Royal Mirage W and Prestige VDL were imported and then in 2012 two Holsteiner showjumping horses Corofino 11 and Andretti, were licensed with Jurgen Rump as head of the commission. Worldly, a licensed Hanoverian dressage stallion, was also added to our stallion list when he was imported from Germany by Renai Hart.  Ludwig Christmann was head of the commission that saw the Hanoverian stallion Doringcourt licensed in 2013. Another showjumper, Eurosport Heartbreaker, was licensed in New Zealand in 2015 with Hartmut Wilking as head of the commission and Whisper IV was imported from Germany as a licensed dressage stallion in the same year.

Doringcourt (Dressage Royal/Landadel) – at licensing day

Prestige VDl KWPN (Silvano N/Good Times) – at licensing day

Eurosport Centavos arrived in 2016 as a showjumping sire and the next year Swarovski (Oldenburg) was imported from Germany by Renai Hart to be another dressage sire. In this same year three more stallions came to New Zealand.  Pennsylvania (Grand Pilot 1) Bavar, Lordano (Holsteiner), approved for Rheinland progeny and Lingh11 KWPN, imported from The Netherlands, and also approved for Rheinland foals.  In 2018 Daminos (Holsteiner) was imported from Europe.

Swarovski (Old.) Sandro Hit/Don Douglas

Four stallions were provisionally added to the New Zealand studbook in 2019. They are still pending performance requirements. Eurosport Kalaska, Eurosport Diamant B (licensed in Verden 2018), SWE Dempsey (Rheinland), Bellario, imported from Australia and Royal Oak also from Australia. 2019 was the first year New Zealand was able to do stallion licensing.

Licensing Commission  of Nicole Fife (test rider). Robin Potter (studbook classifier), Marges Carline (dressage discipline expert) and Furst Hit EDH Rhein. (Furstenball Old. /Sandro Hit Old.) Victoria Wall – breeder and owner.

SWE Dempsey Rhein. (Damsey/Sir Donnerhall Old. ) licensed in New Zealand

Dr. Ludwig Christmann has been a regular visitor from Germany over many years since his first visit in 1997. He has been a loyal guide and teacher for our breeding decisions, for our classifiers and for the development of our studbook.

Peter and Judith Matthews with Dr Ludwig Christmann

Other visitors from Germany since 2007 include Dr Jochen Wilkens four times, Hartmut Wilking, Manfred Lopp, Gerhard Senckenberg, Jurgen Rump, Volker Ehlers twice, Dr Werner Schader, Jens Meyer and Maren Schlender.

     From left – Heinrich Heemke, Hartmut Wilking and Volker Ehlers and Dr Werner Schade at Seaforth Farm 2019

From left Dr Wener Schade and Volker Ehlers with classifier Angela Smith at Westbury Stud 2019, Jens Meyer with Angela Smith and David Woolley in 2020, Maren Schlender with Dave and Bridget Sutton in 2023.

Bridget Sutton, from Henton Lodge, became our president in 2006, a position she held until 2013. She had been secretary of our society for several years.  As our second president, Nick Williams would have said, “These were years of valuable consolidation”.

John Smith, from Stoneylea Farm  was our next president. This was his second time as our president, and he held this role for the next five years before Renai Hart was elected for the position. In 2021 Judith Matthews of Matthews Hanoverians became president for her second time.

During the fifteen years 2007 until 2023, we lost several prominent and long serving members.

Nick Williams, one of the founding members, was the second president after Eric White. He was an international dressage judge.

Sue French was editor of our newsletter and she looked after the website in its early days. She was a great researcher of the Hanoverian breed and wrote in depth for the newsletter about her findings. She was a Hanoverian breeder in the early nineties and travelled to Germany for one of their orientation tours.

Eric Ropiha ONZM, a founding member, was invited to Germany in 1978 by the German government to learn about the Hanoverians. Herr Manfred Lopp trained Eric Ropiha and Eric White at Adelheidsdorf with the bereiters for three weeks and instructed them on the classification of mares. They were the first NewZealand classifiers.  Eric helped choose and then looked after Witzbold, the licensed and syndicated stallion that replaced Winnebago. Eric bred some notable horses. He was a rider his whole life, a trainer of Thoroughbreds in early days, an event rider, showjumper, dressage rider and teacher.

Tiny White MBE, another of our first members, and the wife of Eric White the first president of the NZHS, lived in Otane, Hawkes Bay. She was one of New Zealand’s first riders to compete for dressage internationally, was a committee member, a dressage judge, Hanoverian breeder and Patron of the New Zealand Equestrian Federation.

Tony Vallance was another knowledgeable horseman. He was a classifier in the early days and imported Distelfink, a showjumping licensed Hanoverian stallion from Germany.

Pat Dalrymple, a life member, was the driving force behind the purchase of the stallion Anamour. He was syndicate owned and was looked after by Gary and Wendy Freeman at Bilbar Lodge near Palmerston North. Pat was also a founding member of the HNZ Society and was on the committee and an active breeder. She was a senior dressage judge. Pat bred Valdebago, by Winnebago, and he was the first NZ bred Hanoverian to go to England where he competed in dressage with Katherin, Pat’s daughter, at Goodwood. Among other good horses that Pat bred was Dancealong by Dreamboy, ridden by Susan Tomlin. Pat and the Dalrymple Family gave the lovely mare and foal bronze model that is awarded annually for the best Hanoverian foal.


Kalman de Jurenak was another of great influence to New Zealand. He was the one responsible for starting the breeding of registered Hanoverians in New Zealand. He saw all the good things about our country, and he persuaded the Verband to visit. As a result, NZ became the first daughter society of the Hanoverian Society and Germany helped us to set up the stud book and accept classified Thoroughbred mares and import licensed stallions.

Sarah Williams, a founding and life member, was the first secretary and she looked after the stud book as well,  written by hand in those early days. She had a very good knowledge of Thoroughbred blood lines and was an early breeder.

Rita and Neil Fox, both life members, lived in Southland. They went to Germany to buy a stallion and found Genius. He sired some of our best competition horses and some of our top brood mares.

Bernie Maubach was a prominent member and breeder of Hanoverians. He imported Dynamit and Worldwide. He was president for five years.

Kevin Cholmondeley-Smith imported Allermund in 1982. After initial discussions with Herr H. J Kohler and Kalman de Jurenak he was shown a collection of young stallions at Adelheidsdorf, the training and testing centre, and he chose Allermund. Kevin showed the horse at several shows and Philipp Oxenius was his rider for demonstration purposes. A few of Allermund’s progeny lived in New Zealand but many were sold to America.

Over the years New Zealand has bred some internationally recognised competition horses. Mosaic, Bago, Writzmarc, Monopoly, Waikare, Gabana and Antonello have all competed at the Olympic Games while Henton Attorney General and Clifton Signature (bred by Angela and John Smith) have been successful international eventers.

From left – Gabana (Genius/ Winnebago) in Athens, Henton Attorney General (Anamour/Distelfink) in Boekelo, Antonello (Anamour/Winnebago) at NZ Horse of the Year Show (London Olympics with Louisa Hill)

Since 2007  several Hanoverians bred in this country  have reached  high standards in performance, De Ja Vu MH, Winter Acacia, KH Arvan, Dancealong, Domino MH, Graffiti MH, Henton Faberge, Avante Guard, Leo Dreams of Gold, Letty Lei, Parkridge Disco, KH Ambrose,Don Vito MH, Bon Jovi MH, Aphrodite, Hapsburg PHS, Laila Dawn, Fanfare MH, Stoneylea Felicio, Dance Hit SW, Henton Executive, Henton For Glory, and Enya MH.  The list goes on into the future with numerous exceptionally well-bred young horses performing consistently in New Zealand, Australia and The United Kingdom.

Although not a competition result, the fact that in 2010 Limonit was paraded in Auckland Central to advertise The Melbourne Cup was a remarkable test for any stallion. Andrea Banks, colourfully decked out in showbiz costume and feathers rode him in the parade down Queen Street.  He behaved beautifully with calm impeccable manners.

Robin Potter has looked after the New Zealand stud book since John Smith handed it over in 2006.      It is a demanding task ably carried out. She is also one of our two classifiers and the one of the organisers of our annual tours with the German visitors from the Verband.

Angela Smith is our other classifier. She and husband John run Stoneylea Farm in South Auckland. Foals born there are of high quality, particularly bred for dressage and mainly descend from EM Stoneylea Lusenka by Lauries Crusador xx, the mare imported from Germany.

Judith and Peter Matthews live in the far north and are the biggest breeders of registered Hanoverians in New Zealand. They have also imported state premium mares from Germany. Their home bred horses are registered with the suffix MH. Many of them have been champions ridden in dressage at all levels. In more recent years show jumpers are being bred as well.

Wendi Williamson has bought and schooled some of Judith and Peter’s youngsters. She has competed overseas in dressage at top competition levels, and this has been great publicity for our New Zealand bred Hanoverians.

Bridget and Dave Sutton have been breeding registered Hanoverians since the early days at Henton Lodge in South Auckland. Their eventing horses have the prefix Henton and they are well regarded by the world’s top riders.

Spin Sutherland, has been a member since 1977 and a member of the committee as well as a syndicate member of early stallions.

Saskia Brosnan, one of our younger members, has spent several years on the committee as well as some time as secretary and newsletter editor.

Nicolette Rendle is another long-time successful breeder. She breeds mainly showjumpers but dressage bred horses as well and these horses have the suffix PSH. (Phoenix Sport Horses). Nicolette has been one of our younger committee members for a long time.

Julian Aaron has been a great supporter of HNZ. For many years he has organised the distribution of our Hanoverian prize ribbons to all the major competitions for the top Hanoverian winners.

Sash winners at Wellington Championships 2022 – Nicki Sunley and Ann Webster

Renai Hart lives in Riverhead, northwest of Auckland, on the family property named River Park.Renai has owned the classified stallions Worldly (Hanoverian) and Swarovski (Oldenburg) and now has Limonit (Hanoverian) in retirement. In 2015 Renai was elected as Vice President of Hanoverian International and then re-elected in 2023. In 2021 she became Vice President of WBFSH, in charge of the Department of Development.

The year 2017 was notable  in the growth of the society. It saw the integration of the Rheinland Stud Book with the positive benefit for breeders all around the world. New Zealand became a full member of the WBFSH (World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses.) We introduced foal assessments and in 2019 gold medal foal plaques supplied by Hanoverian International were awarded to the very top foals born outside Germany.

Recording, communication and travel have all developed and become more sophisticated over the past 15 years. Judith Matthews, Robin Potter and Renai Hart have travelled to Europe for International meetings and Renai is now vice president of the General Assembly. In 2023 Renai and Robin attended the WBFSH meeting in Orlando, Florida.

From left – WBSFH General Assembly in Saumur 2018, World Young Dressage Horse Chamionships in Ermelo 2023 (Maren Schlender, Judith Matthews, Renai Hart and Katy Holder-Vale UK) and WBSFH General Assembly BBQ in Ocala, FA 2023

45 Years Of Hanoverians in New Zealand – by Judith Wear