Pigeon receives illustrious name

By Staff Reporter

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WHAT'S MY NAME: Marion Johnston from the PS Waimarie with the pigeon named Baxter. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
WHAT'S MY NAME: Marion Johnston from the PS Waimarie with the pigeon named Baxter. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

The baby pigeon bred for the PS Waimarie has a name - Baxter.

The name was found through a competition and was won by Alexander Fieldes, with poet James K Baxter in mind.

The Waimarie has homing pigeons, some of which go on board the Waimarie for the two-hour 11am cruise. They are released 14km upriver, near Upokongaro, carrying messages from Waimarie passengers.

The pigeons (with messages) arrive back at the Waimarie Centre, well ahead of the Waimarie's return. Passengers can retrieve their messages on their later return.

Promotions officer for the Waimarie, Nicki Higgie, said: "Within our group of four pigeons in the Waimarie pigeon loft, we have a breeding pair and they hatched out a baby in mid-December, hence the competition for a suitable name.

"Having received some wonderful entries in our name the baby pigeon competition, the team at the Waimarie Centre have a winner."

She said Alexander's suggestion was "a great name in itself, suggesting strength and personality".

"Then there's the very strong connection of poet James K Baxter with Whanganui and with the Whanganui River.

"James K Baxter moved to Jerusalem, up the Whanganui River, in 1969. He lived frugally and made frequent trips to Whanganui. The poems he wrote at this time speak strongly of his social and political convictions.

"He died on October 22, 1972, aged 46, and was buried at Jerusalem.

"Long-standing Whanganui residents remember regularly seeing James K Baxter striding down Guyton St. Some Guyton St residents and businesses are currently raising money for a bronze statue of him to be created and installed on a Guyton St footpath, in his memory and celebrating his having been a local for a few years."

She said the judges were impressed by the suggestions and the reasons behind those names. Some were based on history, both from Whanganui's riverboat era and from World War I. Others referred back to childhood names, Maori names and one had connections with ancient history as well as modern day entertainment and a play on words.

Alexander wins a poster which is the reproduction of a map from 1903 and the book, Paddle Steamer Waimarie 1899-2000 which recounts some of the Waimarie's history, including her early days working on the Whanganui, her sinking, then salvage and restoration.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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