Pauline Teki holds a very special piece of New Zealand equestrian history.
In 1967 as an 18-year-old, Pauline became the first woman to win the prestigious Olympic Cup – quite the feat – steering Lucky Steve to a very popular victory ahead of Joe Yorke a board Challenge. Joe went on to represent New Zealand at the 1976 Olympic Games on his legendary mount Big Red.
Pauline Jane Pakiakiterangi Teki (now Mowat) grew up with horses in Whanganui, Karioi and Tangiwai. Her mother Joy Teki (nee Stephens), grandmother Patohe Stephens (nee McDonnell) and great grandmother Tarihira McDonnell (daughter of Kereti Te Hiwitahi) owned Kimberly Farm at Tangiwai. Much later, from about 1992 to 2002, Pauline lived on and managed Kimberly Farm.
Pauline is one of five siblings, three of whom have died. Amira ‘Mids’ Teki was well travelled and spoke multiple languages. She died in 2008. Their brothers Ernest and Randall Teki died together in 1978 near Te Kaha, East Coast. The brothers were in a dingy attempting to clear crayfish pots when they fell overboard.
At just nine years old Pauline had lessons with Coloman Bolgar and she used to say much of her success was thanks to his rather strict ways.
Pauline’s father Rupert ‘Bully’ Teki bought Lucky Steve as a four-year-old. Lucky Steve who was by Impression, was bred by Mrs C Robertson of Taihape and in the hands of Pauline proved to be a very versatile horse, winning everything from round the ring to puissance and speed classes.
They were on a number of winning teams for Central Districts, and for the North Island on tours of the South Island. A memorable outing was at the 1968 Otago Area Show where Pauline and Lucky Steve won the Grand Prix, notching eight clear rounds for the day.
The family were well respected horsemen and travelled to many shows around the country. When Pauline and Lucky Steve won the Olympic Cup in Levin, riding the Coloman Bolgar designed course to perfection, they received a standing ovation from the crowd.
In 1970, Pauline had Graeme Thomas ride Lucky Steve to victory in the House of Blackmore Cup six-bar competition. She also did very well with her sister Koria’s horse Blaze. Koria was also a very accomplished rider, and her daughter Keri McNamara (nee Hourigan) won the Somerset Fair Cup for Pony of the Year in 1976 aboard Esprit.
At 18, Pauline did a European tour with her grandmother Patohe Stephens bringing back beautiful memories of riding at a Swiss school in Geneva and attending the Greater London Horse Show.
Pauline (Ngāti Rangi, Tūwharetoa and Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) is now in her 70s and while affected by dementia is happy and content, living in Whanganui. Her daughters say every now and again she will surprise them with stories of her younger days, including delightful memories of her riding and of course, Lucky Steve. Holding pride of place on her wall is a photograph of her and the horse who many still remember so fondly.