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Cowboy relives his rodeo past

By Hayley Gastmeier
[email protected]

A bull rider in a Masterton rodeo held 26 years ago has now reached out to reclaim a spectacular Wairarapa Times-Age photograph of himself – after once trying to destroy every copy.

Long-time subscribers of the newspaper may remember the image, taken at the Wairarapa Rodeo by Garry Norman, which appeared on the front page on November 19, 1990.

“Initially I was really embarrassed about it and I destroyed every copy I found, much to the amusement of my fellow cowboys,” said Paul Mclauchlan, star of the picture.

“Nowadays my ego is much smaller and I can see the funny side.”

Mr Mclauchlan, who then lived in Rotorua but now lives in New South Wales, Australia, recently contacted the Times-Age in an attempt to track down the image of him at age 20.

Copies of the paper are kept at Wairarapa Archive and within an hour of the reporter approaching archivist Gareth Winter, he had put his hands on it.

Mr Mclauchlan has often thought about the photograph taken at Solway Showgrounds, wishing he had a copy to show his children.

“I never kept a copy because at the time my focus was to ride the bulls and not to get hung up on them,” he said.

“Being hung up on a bull is probably one of the most dangerous situations a cowboy could be in and I remember being swung around and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness came over me. I figured I was done for and for some unknown reason I decided to smile and wave. The photographer was right there to catch the shot – it was pretty good timing.”

Mr Mclauchlan had been riding in the novice bull ride and his younger brother, there too, had also planned to have a go.

“After seeing me hung up and dragged around he changed his mind. I remember clearly being hung up and that I really thought I was done for when I lost my footing. When the bull started spinning I started to laugh – I’m not sure why – and then I thought I’d just wave out for the hell of it.”

In hindsight waving out had been a “really dumb and dangerous” thing to do, Mr Mclauchlan said.

“Not only for me but also for the rodeo clowns who were risking their safety to get me out. They are a bull riders best friend and I owe a lot of them for getting me out of many a sticky situation.”

Following the Masterton rodeo Mr Mclauchlan continued to ride bulls for a number of years until he suffered a bad accident in Canada on a bull named Quintana.

After that he stuck to riding horses bareback.

“They say it’s pretty hard to come back from a serious injury and that unless you are able to conquer the fear factor you might as well quit. Looking back I figure I never really was a bull rider, although I did make the New Zealand finals one year.”


  1. I remember as a kid in maybe the late 70s being in the back of some people ute sleeping with my nose near a hole where I breathed in carbon monoxide so much that I went into a coma. Im sure it was in the front page of the times age. Im about 50 now so cant remember too much. Any chance you could find something?

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