Goats called to testify in court

In times gone by, the Warkworth A&P show caused a national controversy when the Wechs of Windy Ridge showed off their working team of goats.

Back in the 1920s, Ron Wech, aged 8, and brother Ken had trained a group of goats and harnessed them with specially made rigging modelled on gear used for bullock teams.

The goats had a practical purpose, carting milk and fence posts from the dairy shed to the main road.

Ron’s grandson, George Wech, of Kaipara Flats, recalls being told that the boys would also take their goats to the A&P show and charge other children for rides.

At the 1928 show, the boys were captured by prominent press photographer Tudor Collins and the picture was published in an Auckland newspaper.

The image caused a stir as the law prohibited animals other than horses, bullocks and dogs from being harnessed for working purposes.

As a result, the boys’ father, Robert Wech, was served with a summons from police, charged with animal cruelty.

The boys and the goats were transported by truck down to Auckland to appear in court.

The courtroom heard from Bob Wech that the goats were of a pleasant disposition and if called they would willingly come.

The goats themselves were then called to the stand and the magistrate was so impressed by their nature, that he discharged the Wechs without conviction against advice from police.

Ron and Ken came from a family of 12 children, descended from Bohemian migrants. Members of the family still live at Windy Ridge today.