Prince Philip's death sparks call to reinvigorate the sport he loved

The death of Prince Philip may have prompted many kiwis to delve into their memory bank or maybe even their VHS stash to recall moments they met him over the years. 

One such recording is the talk of Taupō this weekend, as the sport which the Duke of Edinburgh invented holds its annual carriage driving championships. 

When Prince Philip was forced to give up polo at age 50 because of arthritis, he began carriage driving which fulfilled his love of sport for the next 50 years and became a feature at his funeral. 

The sport is in need of reinvigorating, and now carriage driving enthusiasts are hoping recent attention will spark a renewed interest, including here in New Zealand. 

Isabel Cochran from the Carriage Driving Association of New Zealand says the sport was established in New Zealand in the early 1980s.

"As a sport, we've been going since the early 80s but quietly developing."

A group of about 80 has held steady over that time - some who were here when Prince Philip visited the Taupō National Equestrian Centre 26 years ago are still driving now. 

The rules are still the same as they were when Prince Philip wrote them, and in 1995, he happily spent four hours at the national Kiwi championships when he was only meant to visit for an hour. 

"We were still finding our way a bit as far as competitions, international competition went anyway so he was very like a father figure," Cochran says. 

It looked like a relaxed scene as he gave tips to each of the drivers, but as Cochran explains, behind the scenes it wasn't. 

"Security men [were] practically climbing trees and looking after every cone in the cone course after they'd moved them."

The road cones were a touch of Kiwi ingenuity by the course designer Gordon Burr and yes he is related to Newshub's Europe Correspondent Lloyd Burr. 

Lloyd's grandad had to break the news to the Prince that the official British cones were too expensive. 

Burr family footage above shows the two of them wandering just like two great mates and Prince Philip preferred it that way. 

Carriage driving gave Prince Philip licence to mingle with people from all walks of life, those people now determined to champion the sport in his absence.