The NZ Polo Open was created in the 1960s. The event started from the grass roots, and now in its 49th year the annual tournament attracts international polo players, superior ponies, and diverse spectators from around the globe. The Land Rover NZ Polo Open decides the New Zealand Polo Championship and is the premier polo tournament in New Zealand. In 2016, six teams will compete in the 18-goal tournament, which will be held from 16th to 21st February at Auckland Polo Club. There are further 24 teams in the other grades that play throughout the week in the build-up for the Land Rover NZ Polo Open. Hannah Marshall, Auckland Polo Club Event Manager, already presents a forecast of the teams: “We have an exciting array of international players that head to New Zealand to play in the New Zealand Polo Open and this year we have a patron form the UK entering a team. Our teams are scattered from the regions of New Zealand, including two that travel from the South Island.”
The Auckland Polo Club is based in Clevedon in Southern Hills of Auckland. The club was established in 1888 and thus was one of the first polo clubs to be formed in New Zealand. Today Auckland is one of the most important polo centres of the country. Highlight of the polo season is the NZ Polo Open, annually held in February – an international and glamorous event, but at the same time with a family and casual atmosphere. “Our vision is to attract international tourists and players to New Zealand to enjoy the Land Rover NZ Polo Open as part of the global polo circuit. That said we aim to maintain our local grass roots feel to ensure the event is unique to New Zealand,” says Hannah Marshall.
Last year 7,000 people attended the event and were thrilled about the action packed chukkas being held on “Fisher Field”. For the upcoming edition the event organisers are expecting a similar turnout. “If not more, as we have increased capacity for our General Admission area. This year we are encouraging more families to take a picnic and enjoy a day in the countryside, and there is a young hip city demographic too, who adore the change in scenario plus our legendary After Party. Spectators enjoy the sport of polo, and hopefully the tournament might encourage new polo players!“
In 2016, for the first time Land Rover will be title sponsor of the event. “The NZ Polo Open has been going from strength to strength for a number of years. We have been looking to partner with a business and brand that reflects the class and sophistication of our sporting event,“ says Hannah Marshall to explain how the cooperation came about. “Land Rover is the perfect fit, because it has similarly aligned ideals with it’s longstanding relationship with equestrian sports globally.” For Land Rover this new partnership is a win-win-situation as well. James McKee, Marketing Manager at Land Rover NZ: “Sponsorship of events such as the Land Rover New Zealand Polo Open allow us to reaffirm Land Rover’s longstanding links with equestrian sport, but also allows us to engage with customers around the capability of our vehicles in a luxury environment – two things that Land Rovers are synonymous with.”