Waikari is a
sleepy hamlet off the main highway. One could say it is a 'one horse
town' where the horse bolted many years ago. ANZAC day 2015 saw the
situation reversed with the appearance of 100 horses!
The tale behind the ANZAC
day (25/04/2015) 20km trek by 100 horses and riders to honour their
Anzac war dead has galvanised rural communities around Waikari,
north Canterbury, even after the worst drought for 60 years.
On Anzac Day, a spectacular remembrance called '100 Years, 100
Horses', will see 100 riders in formation - dressed in replica gear
from World War I. They will pay tribute, not just to the fallen, but
to the community spirit behind the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.
The story of the Rifles, part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle
Brigade (Canterbury Mounted Rifles) which left Lyttelton in 1914 for
the conflict in Turkey with just under 2000 men and over 2000
horses. The north Canterbury townships of the Hurunui district -
Waikari, Hurunui, Mason Flats, Peaks and Hawarden - provided 187 of
the riders, 42 of whom did not return. No horse returned.
The 100 horses started out
from a dawn service at the site of a local fallen soldier, Thomas
Crean, at the Peaks hall and then the 100 'soldiers' rode in
formation towards Hawarden and then complete the 20km to Waikari,
where the annual Anzac service was held. Forty two crosses were then
placeded at the cenotaph to commemorate the fallen. Section in
italics based on news item from the New Zealand herald, BUT with a
lot of editing!
of horse parade Waikari 2015
Actual Canterbury MR
riding to Lyttleton port for embarkation to Egypt 2014
Section of commemorative
Main ceremony for horses
Note Maori chap has his
Taiaha (fighting staff) slung over shoulders rather than customary 303 rifle.
Also note the two riders with feathers in their hats. These are 2 of
the 3 people representing the Australian Light Horse. NZ and
Australian forces combined in the Middle East as the ANZACs.
Every small town in New
Zealand and Australia has its war memorial following WW1 and sadly
added to after WW2. The actual ANZAC service had a ceremonial placing
of a cross for each of the local fallen.
In addition to the actual
memorial most small towns built, or renamed their local halls as
'War Memorial Halls'. Within such halls would be the 'Honour Board'
listing all those that had served from the region with annotations
for those that had fallen, or died of wounds. Waikari Hall was home
to the static display oragnised by the NZ military history group. The
above table displays souvenirs brought back by locals from Waikari
and still remaining with the descendents.
These displays came from the
private collections of the people shown. These items are all genuine
and in pristine condition considering the age. Of interest is the
battledress top worn by the person on the right. This was his
grandfathers jacket which was worn at the battle of Paschendale in
Belgium. Very rare to see something in such good condition. Brent's
(from Passport Travel) grandfather was also in the same battle.
Assorted static displays;
Left-German Maxim machine gun. Top right- British Lewis machine gun
- Brents grandfather was in a Lewis squad. Bottom right- WW1 nurse
Typical peaceful scene from
Waikari and the Hurunui region of Nth Canterbury