Wanted: one name, suitable for a young male pigeon.

The homing pigeon is one of five owned by the PS Waimarie. When he is a little older, the pigeon will be taken with the other pigeons on cruises up the Whanganui River and released to fly back to Whanganui with messages.

Marion Johnston from the Waimarie said a competition was being held to name the pigeon.

"Back in the day, when [the Waimarie] was travelling back and forth between Whanganui and Pipiriki, there were no means of communication. So they took homing pigeons with them, so a message could be sent back to Whanganui. So it's re-creating a bit of that history."

Advertisement

The birds are taken on the boat in a little wicker basket. Kids can write a message which is put inside a small cannister attached to the pigeon's leg. When the cruise is finished, the pigeon - and the message - is waiting for them in Whanganui.

The young pigeon hatched in December, and is definitely a male. He is fledged but can't yet fly long distances.

"We thought it would be a fun thing to do, to get someone to name him," Mrs Johnston said.

The pigeons live in a loft in the Waimarie centre.

Mrs Johnston said Waimarie staff would prefer a name that reflects one of the following: the Waimarie Paddle Steamer, the Hatrick family, or Whanganui and its riverboats' history - although they'd consider something completely different.

Please bring or post your suggestion to Nicki Higgie, Waimarie Centre, 1a Taupo Quay, Whanganui 4500, or email it to promotions@waimarie.co.nz

The winner will receive a reproduction of a map of the Whanganui River from 1903, and a book, Paddle Steamer Waimarie 1899-2000.