Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

BRIGGS, MARGARET JANE (MAGGIE)

 

Maggie Briggs was born at Otakeho, South Taranaki* on the 17 April 1892 to Robert Ephraim and Linda Elsie Briggs nee Stevens.  Maggie’s father was drowned in a boating accident on the 29 November 1896 off Ohawe Beach (see Clara Crowhurst), and in 1898 her mother married an Inaha (Manaia) farmer John Robertson.  Maggie’s childhood was spent near the top of Yorke’s Hill, near the old Riverdale Dairy Factory on South Road.

 

John Dryburg Mitchell, a noted Clydesdale breeder and sportsman of “Burnbank”, Mitchell Road, Manaia had a little pony Czarina for whom he wanted a rider worthy of the mount.  He watched the children riding to school, and chose six year old Maggie Briggs.  Before she was allowed to ride Czarina in competition she had to be tutored in the art of riding and this job was given to J D’s son Alex Mitchell, himself one of the finest show ring riders in New Zealand.  Under his tuition, Maggie began to learn the rights and wrongs of show ring riding.  Fortunately, she had a innate love of horses and she enjoyed every minute of the time she was asked to give practice.  Maggie was one of the first to ride astride.

 

Eventually after two years of tuition, Maggie made her debut at the Egmont A & P Show, Hawera in 1902, when mounted on Czarina, she won eleven first prizes.  In addition, competing on another mount she took third place in the women’s jumping event.  Maggie was quickly dubbed the “Maid from Manaia”.  For six years Maggie and Czarina were unbeatable, and when Maggie became too old for the children’s events, the pony was retired from the ring with more than 100 first prizes to her credit.

 

For Maggie’s twelfth birthday she was given another horse, Rawhiti, by Gus Sole of Bell Block. On this horse, Maggie began beating the finest women riders in New Zealand as well as winning at open hunting, wire jumping and other equestrian events.  Later she proved herself outstanding in Australian competitions, making her first appearance at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1923.  Invited by American millionaire Guy Woodin to visit Los Angeles, she ended up riding Rudolf Valentino’s Arabian stallion making her “one of the most envied women in Hollywood”.  Maggie found America disappointing as show ring riding was almost unknown there and she suffered a hip injury which incapacitated her for some years.  In her recovery period she began writing and publishing poetry under the pseudonym “Pakeha”.

 

Maggie returned to New Zealand in 1948, and her interest in show-jumping never waned.  She donated almost all her trophies as prizes to encourage others.  Maggie Briggs died on the 5 November 1961 at Otaki, New Zealand’s first international equestrian.

 

* Some sources say she was born at Otahuhu (Auckland) but her birth entry has been sited as Otakeho, South Taranaki.

 

SOURCES

The Book of New Zealand Women

Legends in their Lifetime by Wally Ingram

 

 

Return To HOME

FAMILIES I AM RESEARCHING | MISCELLANEOUS GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH |NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES | NEW ZEALAND AND WORLD WAR ONE | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR – BY LOCATION | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR – BY CONFLICT | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR – MILITARY NURSES | PAKEHA/MAORI TRANSLITERATIONS |PASSENGER LISTS TO NEW ZEALAND | SHAND – FAMILY HISTORY | SPONDON, DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND | TE PUKE, BAY OF PLENTY, NEW ZEALAND | WOMEN OF SOUTH TARANAKI