Kumara Racecourse Grandstand

State Highway 73, Kumara Racecourse, Kumara

  • Kumara Racecourse Grandstand.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Unknown.
  • Kumara Racecourse Grandstand. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Pam Wilson. Date: 10/09/1992.
  • Kumara Racecourse Grandstand. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 14/04/2015.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1692 Date Entered 2nd April 2004 Date of Effect 2nd April 2004


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the Grandstand building, its fixtures and fittings, and land on part RT WS3B/842 as shown on Plan A of the Registration Report.

City/District Council

Westland District


West Coast Region

Legal description

Lot 14 DP 38, Part Reserve 203 (RT WS3B/842)


The inaugural meeting of the Kumara Jockey Club (now the Kumara Racing Club) took place on Wednesday 27 July 1887. At this meeting the Mayor of the Kumara Borough Council, Mr Henry Burger, announced that the Council had prepared a racecourse on a 60 acre reserve and intended building a grandstand there. These facilities could be leased by the formally set up club. Plans for the grandstand were prepared by Mr James Corbett. Mr Burger became the club's first president and James Corbettt won the contract for the construction of the course. The first race meeting was held on December 28th 1887, and meetings have been held each year within a few weeks of that date since then.

The stand was originally an open structure but was roofed over in 1901 by Mr H. Mordaunt. Following a 1948 report that the stand was unsound, substantial repairs were undertaken and some modernisation was carried out.

The club has battled financial problems throughout its life, and has been threatened with closure on more than one occasion. In both 1905 and 1920, it survived only through the generosity of members. In 1948, the Report of the Royal Commission on Gaming and Racing recommended that the club's licence be revoked. The public rallied around, and the 1949 meeting broke all records. Despite this enthusiasm however, the club continued to struggle against enforced centralisation through the 1960s and 70s. [In the early 1980s Prime Minister Robert Muldoon intervened on behalf of the locals to retain the races at Kumara].

Today the fate of the club rests with the Racing Authority, who hold that if a club is funded and maintained locally, it is not opposed to their continuing. As of 2004, the Kumara Racing Club is still in the running, supported by the entire Kumara community, rather than just racing-focussed persons. The race meeting held on 10th January 2004 reflected the general interest that the event attracts today, with a large crowd patronising what has become an iconic event. Many people journeyed long distances to enjoy the festive, picnic atmosphere. A new feature of the racecourse amenities is the 115 year old band rotunda, donated by the Greymouth Jockey Club and recently relocated from Omoto. The restoration was funded by a former Kumara resident Cushla Martini and her husband Barry Colman (National Business Review owners.) The renowned Kokatahi Band performed here this year as they have done as long as anyone can remember.

The Kumara Racing Club leases the property from the Westland District Council, paying $52 per annum. The club is responsible for the upkeep of all the facilities.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Kumara Racing Club Grandstand has historical and social significance as a reminder of the important place racing occupied in the communal life of late nineteenth and twentieth century New Zealand.

(a) it is a fine representative example of grandstands erected by smaller racing clubs throughout New Zealand in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The stand is a landmark structure on the western approach to the township, and symbolizes the former significance of this once populous gold town.

(e) The stand also has strong community associations as a central focus for the racecourse, which has been kept vital through the ongoing efforts of generations of local people.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Morduant, H

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Corbett, James

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This is a utilitarian grandstand with a single tier of seating, covered by a gabled canopy supported on timber posts. The canopy is decorated with a small central gable at right angles to the roof. Timber brackets form a decorative finish on the supporting front posts and originally there was an open timber balustrading along the front of the stand. This was lost when seating was provided down the slope in front of the stand. There have been several further alterations over the years as the local club has sought to upgrade facilities but the basic form and character of the structure remains unchanged. Service rooms fit under the stand and in the lean-to at the rear.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1887 -

1901 -
Canopy added.

Decorative front balustrading removed.

Extra seating added at front, contemporary windows and doors fitted, weatherboards replaced with corrugated iron.

Construction Details

Timber framed, sheathed in corrugated iron.

Completion Date

7th September 2004

Report Written By

Pam Wilson

Information Sources

Anon, 1987

Anon., An Historical Review to Commemorate 100 Years of Racing by the Kumara Racing Club 1987(?)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust


Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.