Dannevirke: Horses pulled from parade plans

By Christine McKay

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Tararua district mayor Roly Ellis.
Tararua district mayor Roly Ellis.

News the Dannevirke World War I committee has changed direction and will have no horses in the military parade on August 6 has become something of a skirmish in itself.

The World War I committee had originally planned a full horse parade on that Saturday to highlight the commitment of the Wellington Mounted Rifles in the Battle of Ramadi in the Sinai, part of the Mesopotamian campaign of World War I.

However, when Tararua district mayor Roly Ellis offered a charter of freedom to the First Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, based at Linton Army Camp in Palmerston North, the committee decided to incorporate their horse parade with the military occasion, with two riderless horses, stirrups reversed, led by handlers in appropriate military uniform to honour our Dannevirke men who were members of the mounted rifles.

Either embroidered saddle cloths or a banner would have been used to remind the public of the names of these men.

But when it was announced the committee had decided to withdraw the horses from the military parade, disappointment was expressed by councillors.

"I'm particularly disappointed because as a member of the cavalry regiment The 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars I would have liked to see horses represented in the charter of freedom parade in Dannevirke," Mr Ellis said.

However, Tim Delaney, chairman of Dannevirke's World War 1 committee, said he was surprised by the reaction.

"What originally was meant to be a horse parade the World War I committee was organising, kept getting negotiated down, until there was the suggestion that just a single horse at the end of the parade and a poster in a shop window naming those who served with the Wellington Mounted Rifles would be it. So we decided to pull the plug.

"It had become apparent the involvement of horses in the charter of freedom parade was becoming problematic.

"Instead it has been decided to give proper honour, recognition and dignity to the Wellington Mounted Rifles at another time and in another way."

Giving regiments the freedom of a district gives them the right to march through the streets, with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.

Mr Ellis said it's important to remember the charter of freedom is a Tararua-wide recognition and he expects a parade will be held in Pahiatua in two years' time, with parades rotating between Dannevirke and Pahiatua in the future.

The August 6 parade will leave The Hub at 12.30pm, accompanied by the Dannevirke Highland Pipe Band and then proceed to the clock tower on High St where the Dannevirke Brass Band will play, as part of the handing over of the charter.

The parade will then travel up High St to Ballentynes corner, before turning right and making its way to the former railway station.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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