Merran Hain receiving the Pilmer Plate Award from ESNZ & Jumping Board Member, Malcolm McKee at the ESNZ AGA.

The Pilmer Plate is ESNZ’s Volunteer Lifetime Award and it is awarded to a volunteer or technical official who, throughout his or her career, has exemplified the highest ideals of good sportsmanship through commitment, dedication and the pursuit of excellence in the service of ESNZ. 

The recipient of this year’s Pilmer Plate is an ESNZ Honorary Life Member and is best known for her dedication to Jumping – Merran Hain.  Hain was very humbled by the award and in true Merran style, informed the Annual General Assembly that she had already won the Pilmer Plate before in 1970, when it was previously awarded for the Puissance competition at the Horse of the Year Show. 

Hain is the personification of hard work and dedication to the sport of both Jumping and Show Hunter in New Zealand and is a much loved personality within New Zealand’s equestrian community.

Hain who hails from Gisborne is undoubtedly one of ESNZ’s most renowned figures among all disciplines and is quite possibly the only person in New Zealand who has been competing at the top level on the show circuit, for over 50 years. She is notably the only rider to have represented New Zealand in all three Olympic disciplines – showjumping, eventing and dressage. She has won all the major Horse of the Year titles and holds the honour of having ridden more horses in more competitions than any other rider. In recent years, Hain has been enjoying the National Jumping Series and National Show Hunter Series and proves she is still at the top of her game with placings on the series leaderboards over the past few seasons.

Her contribution to the sport outside of the competition ring is perhaps most worthy of recognition. Not only is she a formidable competitor, she has held countless volunteer roles with ESNZ Jumping and Show Hunter as an area delegate, selector, Show Hunter Judge and a course builder. Furthermore, she is always generous with her time and energy and willing to pass on her vast knowledge to assist others; whether that be walking a course with young riders or working through technical issues with course builders.

Hain received top honours for her volunteer work in 2003 when she was awarded The Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for Community Service and she was also inducted into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame in 2014. But the Jumping Board feels she is also worthy of recognition from ESNZ for her services to both the organisation and wider equestrian community as a long serving volunteer.

Hain’s involvement in the sport at grassroots level is also exemplary. She is an active show organising committee member for the Gisborne Area and served as chair of the committee for seven years, is a life member of the A&P Association and a dedicated Pony Club supporter. She is also incredibly generous as a sponsor of classes, a regular contributor to fundraising auctions and even donates her Thoroughbreds in Equestrian Sport (TiES) prize money to the CatWalk Trust.

Hain’s contribution the sport at every possible level is proof that she is not only extremely capable, but willing to go above and beyond no matter the job. Her tenacity, drive and passion for Show Jumping and Show Hunter in New Zealand is unmatched and evidenced by her rich legacy of contribution at every level in and out of the arena – in nearly every equestrian discipline.

Merran embodies the essential qualities of volunteers who make up the backbone of show jumping in New Zealand – commitment, passion and generosity.