A horse and its jockey have galloped onto Matamata’s main drag, reining in a crowd of close to 250 people.
Standing 20 per cent bigger than your average horse, and weighing 2.5-tonnes, the $250,000 metal horse statue was unveiled on Thursday evening.
The statue represents the town's long-standing history on the racetrack and is aimed at reminding Matamata locals and visitors of its horse racing roots.
After two-plus years of being tied up in Adrian Worsley’s workshop, the Te Aroha artist was finally able to put down the tools.
“A holiday, definitely,” Worsley told Stuff.
It started in late-2018 when Worsley began researching and taking advice from people in the horse racing industry.
“I had some major challenges along the way, I needed to nut out how horses work and how they operate.
“I knew nothing about horses and the biggest challenge was getting the proportions and muscles right.”
The hardest part?
“All of it.”
The statue is made from 100 per cent locally sourced scrap metal.
“To look at the horse it looks quite simple, but when you start getting into detail there’s a lot more to it.”
The jockey, for example, is made completely out of hot water copper cylinders,” he said.
“I've allowed for everything, no one will be able to damage it.”
Keep Matamata Beautiful helped bring the statue to fruition, but it took some time to settle on the final idea.
Chairperson Robin Burr said the committee considered a bronze statue, like the mare and foal in Cambridge.
She said they even considered having horses around the town like the cows in Morrinsville.
Eventually, they settled on a large horse statue and commissioned Worsley in 2018 to do the work.
It took two years of fundraising and sponsorship to fund the quarter-million-dollar showpiece.
“It’s great we can celebrate and acknowledge the town’s 100 plus years of racing,” Burr said.
“Thirty per cent of the people in Matamata are employed in horse racing.”
Horse racing has been part of the town since the 1870s, initially involving Māori and European employees on the Firth Estate competing on their stock horses.
Matamata Racing Club chair Dennis Ryan said when the club was established in 1919 it was well on its way to becoming the country’s largest combined racing and training operation.
Over the decades people and horses have bought fame and fortune to racing and breeding in the region, exemplifying the slogan “Matamata, the town that’s racing ahead.
“The Matamata Racing Club is proud to be associated with the superb sculpture of a racehorse and jockey in full flight.”