A right royal gong this time for longtime equestrian volunteer

If good things really do come in threes, Christine Hartstone must be wondering what on earth next.

The near-70 year old was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) at an investiture at Government House in Auckland last month.
Barely a year before she’d been honoured in the New Zealander of the Year Awards, in the Kiwibank Local Hero category for community service.

Christine’s chuffed all over again with the latest accolade, which acknowledges her work for half her life as a volunteer in equestrian sport – a 35-year stint which began at Te Uku Pony Club when daughter Jody, who’s now in her 40s, first wanted to ride.
Jody, who went on to become a top Grand Prix dressage rider and international coach, was there at the investiture to see her mother receive the Queen’s Birthday Honour.
“The whole family got to go which was very special,” Christine told the Chronicle.

She joked she had hoped Prince Harry might have been able to present the badge of honour but “unfortunately” he wasn’t quite in the country at the time.

Instead it was Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy who officiated at what Christine described as a “lovely, relaxed” afternoon ceremony. “And thank God there wasn’t a step up (to trip on),” Christine added.

Christine started out in 1981 as secretary/treasurer of the local pony club she co-established, moving on to treasurer of  the Hamilton club – where she was also the district commissioner for a time – and treasurer of the Waikato area clubs.

Then when Jody was a teen Christine supported her by getting involved with Equestrian Sports New Zealand in the dressage and eventing disciplines, travelling tirelessly around the country for years while relishing working for up-and-coming riders like her daughter.

Christine has now retired from administration of most equestrian events although is still event secretary for the KihiKihi International Horse Trials and for Dressage New Zealand. She coordinates resources for the volunteer group and competitors for the dressage section of the annual Horse of the Year Show.

As if that wasn’t enough “Jody also got me involved in the NZ Warmblood Association (a group which promotes good breeding)”, she adds.

Christine was delighted with the lapel badge she was awarded on the day, along with a royal  warrant signed “for real” by the Queen and which she’ll now frame.

Nineteen people from the wider Waikato were recognised in the  Queen’s Birthday Honours. They included one-time Whatawhata resident Deborah Challinor, who like Christine was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit – in her case for services to literature and historical research.

Edith Symes