• 1720
    Total Filled jobs in Horse and Dog Racing Activities for September quarter 2021
  • 5,000
    Individuals worked in Equine, Dogs and Racing industries across 2020
  • 175
    Learners enrolled in the Equine, Dogs and Racing specific programmes/qualifications in 2021
  • $307.4m
    Gross betting revenue for racing activities


Horses first arrived in Aotearoa in 1814, when they were introduced by missionary Samuel Marsden. Horse races began with ordinary riding horses, but with the importation of Thoroughbreds, the breeding and racing industry began. The concept of racing horses was imported from England with the first Thoroughbred meeting taking place in Auckland in 1842, followed by the first trotting meeting in Wanganui in 1881. Māori took an early interest in racing, and races held almost exclusively for Māori started in Ōtaki in 1854. Of the small number of Māori clubs that were formed, only the Ōtaki-Māori club remains today.

By 1911, there were over 404,000 horses in Aotearoa – the highest number ever. This began dwindling out, and by 2004 there were fewer than 77,000 horses. 

The Equine, Greyhounds and Racing industry contributes about $1,633 million to GDP annually. In 2020, we counted 5,000 people in the workforce, made up of three racing codes which include Thoroughbred racing, Harness/Standardbred racing and Greyhound racing. Each code has its own governing body.   

Betting has always been an important part of the racing industry, but as it grew throughout the first half of the 20th century, illegal bookies turned over millions of pounds. The Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) was set up by the government in 1950 to try and put some conditions around betting. However, New Zealanders have continued to do some betting or gambling with overseas wagering operators or online casinos, which has meant that not all of the revenue goes to TAB NZ. One of the biggest struggles for the industry is the ability to remain sustainable, with the future of the industry depending on its ability to remain economically viable. This is because most of the revenue for the industry currently comes through TAB NZ, which is used for both prize money and infrastructure investment.  


We highlight the current key priorities and opportunities for each industry, and links back to the supporting evidence base to show why they have been selected as a priority. These opportunities will be updated on an ongoing basis as our understanding of the industry evolves and deepens.

This is our plan to address the opportunities that arose from our engagement, research and analysis. It includes real actions that we are committed to delivering – these are both industry specific and cross-cutting actions across all industries in the food and fibre sector where common themes emerged.

It includes broader areas or dependencies where external parties will need to provide input into solutions with Muka Tangata support; for example, advocacy, engagement, collaboration, and provision of specific expertise or data. We will work in collaboration with those who will need to take the lead in this area. This section will test potential solutions that we’re working on and seek feedback and input into them.