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My Journey with North Shore RDA

 by Colleen Masters

My journey with NSRDA started at the beginning of 1998, after moving to Browns Bay, and meeting one of our neighbours at the Christmas Street BBQ who was a volunteer at NSRDA.  As always, they were looking for volunteers. I had no experience with horses (apart from falling off one) or with Special Needs Children. 

A little background on NSRDA which was before my time. The late Pam Martin started NSRDA with her own horses and a band of volunteers at Rosedale Pony Club grounds not sure of the year. Certainly, well before I became a volunteer. With money raised by Rotary Clubs, the pony club graciously allowed NSRDA to erect a barn on their grounds. Sometime later the ASB were instrumental in helping move the barn from the pony club to leased land on Oteha Valley Road (no power and a long drop toilet). 

Once more on the move again as the council required their land for improvements, land was leased on Woolly Bear Farm in Albany, (same situation with no power- long drop toilet- cold water). This is where I started volunteering for NSRDA in 1998. 

Colleen Master Volunteer of the Year - cropped.jpg

More money was needed for improvements, so NSRDA applied to the ASB Community Trust for more funds. It became apparent to qualify for larger grants NSRDA must become a charitable trust which we did with the help of many good people. This is when we moved to Stillwater and with the help of the ASB bought 10 acres of land and built a new barn and have progressed in leaps and bounds since. Enlarged the barn – built inside and outside stalls – a fantastic arena – leased an adjoining 7 acres. 

The expansion of these facilities and the hard work and dedication of volunteers has enabled us to expand riding from 2 days a week to 4 days.  We access our funds from Riders fees -donations -grants -and bequeaths. In my 24 years as a volunteer, I have worn many hats- Committee – Trust – Training – NZRDA Volunteer of the Year in 2012.


I am so very glad I became a NSRDA volunteer. My 24 years have been very rewarding in all aspects.  I have met so many wonderful people, and value the friendships of many. The additional experience and fellowship I have gained is invaluable. There is so much more I could write it truly has been a wonderful journey. 

The following is a quote from one of our amazing volunteers I would like to share with you: 

“My commitment to Riding for the Disabled is reinforced every time I step through the gates of the North Shore Group, where I volunteer. Here you will see the very best of humanity. You will see smiles and laughter shared. The joy of succeeding when milestones are reached. You will see bravery, strength, courage and perseverance exhibited by our riders. You will see victories large and small. 

You may catch a glimpse of tears: tears of joy when a parent or care giver is caught off guard, overwhelmed at a rider’s triumph. 
You will see tireless dedication from my colleagues and our precious ponies patiently providing much needed therapy to our riders. The therapy provided by Riding for the Disabled is invaluable.   The progress made by our riders is truly measurable and the lives that are enhanced are priceless.”

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