New On-Course Photographer

New On-Course Photographer

Bruce Stewart

3rd July 2020

Bluff photographer Monica Toretto started earlier this month as the Southland Harness racing on-course photographer, and is enjoying her new role.

Born in Holland, Monica came to New Zealand as an eleven year old. She’s been a professional photographer for eighteen years and has been in Southland for twelve years.

She has a strong connection with both standardbreds and thoroughbreds, owning her first standardbred when she was just sixteen.

“I’ve grown up with them and I just love them. There’s something about them,” she said.

Monica lived in Canada and America for a while and has worked in stables in New Zealand.

“I used to work for Doug Gale and Colin Jillings. Right throughout everything I’ve done I’ve always taken photos. While I was in America I injured my back and a friend of mine gave me her old camera, and it was my first digital camera. I worked on a big training farm there and I just went around taking photos of horses training.”

During her time with Gale in the early 1990s he had horses like Perfect Byrd and San Sabriel in his stable. Both won eight races.

She’s also adopted a standardbred named Duffle Bag (Noodlum-Western Innocence) the winner of five races for Gale.

“I bought the mare and bred a horse called Satchel, then sold her as a package.”

Monica is also the official photographer for the Southland Shark Basketball franchise and she takes photos at rugby, wrestling and football events.

Fashion is another interest. “I went back to SIT and did a degree in fashion. I now do fashion photography. We’ve set up a whole bunch of models and photographers and do a whole bunch of shoots.”

She had entered the Hokonui Fashion Awards this year, but unfortunately the competition had to be called off due to Covid-19.

Monica posts her photos on her website and she puts a smaller selection on her Facebook page.

“I found in America they just sell the prints. Then people can organise their own frames, depending on what they like and on their decor.”

Monica’s website is