Ben Jamison, General Manager & Project Manager at Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club  Photo:

Q&A - Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club's Ben Jamison

16 September 2021

To continue our celebration of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, we caught up with Ben Jamison, General Manager & Project Manager at Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club. Ben shares his pepeha (introduction), what he loves most about his mahi (work), and his favourite whakataukī (proverb).

What makes the Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club so unique and special?

There are a number of traits unique to our Club, but perhaps most notably is the fact that our committee is now the only one in Aotearoa (New Zealand) that is made up of individuals who whakapapa (geneology) to the three iwi (tribe) in the region, being; Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Ati Awa. How we operate is effectively governed by representation from those iwi. Our committee and staff also uphold tikanga Māori (customary practices or behaviours) and use Te Reo Māori as much as possible in everyday situations. It is important that we continue such tradition as the only Māori racing club left in the world. 

What is your role at Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club?  And what do you enjoy most about your mahi?

Initially I was contracted in 2017 to assist the Club through a number of challenges. Since then I have taken on the mantle of General Manager and oversee all racing operations, as well as the formulation and implementation of a number of non-racing projects to ensure the longevity and sustainability of our historic Club. The thing I enjoy the most in this environment is ensuring the legacy of our tupuna (ancestors), all previous committee members, staff and officials, is safeguarded, and that the efforts they made in the past are not wasted.

How did you get involved in racing? 

I grew up around the Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club as my Father has been involved in the racing industry for many years. It wasn’t until I completed my previous mahi (work) in Wellington in mid-2017 that he tapped me on the shoulder to assist the Club. I was, and am still, honoured to do so.

What is one kupu (word) everyone stepping on-course should know?  

One particular kupu we focus on at the Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club is ‘manaakitanga’ – which embodies kindness, generosity and support. It essentially outlines the process of being kind to people, and they will be kind in return.

We’ve been asking some of our participants to share their pepeha – we would love to know yours!

Tēnā tātou katoa (Greetings)

Ko Tararua te maunga (Mountain)

Ko Ruamahanga te awa (River)

Ko Tainui te waka

Nō Ōtaki ahau (Town)

Ko Jamison tōku whānau (Surname)

Ko Ben tōku ingoa (Name)

What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to learn Te Reo?

Don’t be scared to learn it – it really isn’t as daunting as many believe!

Proverbs play an important role in Māori culture – do you have a favourite whakataukī and what is the translation?

One of my favourite whakataukī is “Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi” which translates to “Without foresight or vision, the people will be lost” emphasising the importance of looking ahead, and not just what is in front of you at the present time.

Interested to know more about the history of Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club, visit

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