Armistice Day in Nireaha, West of Eketāhuna, was marked this year with an emphasis on remembering the local horses and local Eketāhuna and Districts' mounted riflemen who served overseas in World War I.
Terry Kingi from Canterbury led the Anzac Mounts Charitable Trust to Nireaha, with an impressive line-up of seven horses ridden by troopers. He works with ex-servicemen who have suffered with PTSD and takes people out with his horses - they learn about caring for the horses and ride them. He even takes the horses into rest homes.
Denise Clifton (one of the troopers) had done a couple of events with Terry before. Being on the Eketāhuna Mellamskov Museum Committee with Karen Barber, she was able to give a recommendation when Karen said "wouldn't it be amazing to have the Mounted Rifles up here".
After some local fundraising to pay for the horses to come up from Canterbury, the Troopers were formed in time for Margaret Parsons' recent Civic Award as a Guard of Honour.
"Terry brings an awareness of the Mounted Rifles - 11,000 horses went into WWI and only a handful came back," said Bridget Wellwood, curator at Eketāhuna Mellamskov Museum.
"Being in the desert, they had diseases. If they weren't shot after their war service, they would have been sold to traders and worked to death. Soldiers preferred to shoot them, given the choice, after serving with them in battles in Sinnai and Palestine in WWI.
"In one battle in WWI the horses were made to lie down with the riders and let a train full of armed Turks pass by at night. One of the Turks spotted them and thought they were rocks.
"Horses went from New Zealand to Cairo into camp. A lot of the Mounted Rifles' men fought at Gallipoli but didn't take their horses with them and went on to fight in Europe.
"Following the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899, everyone rallied to rush to help the Empire. There was a huge wave of enthusiasm for volunteers, they set-up militia groups all around New Zealand with the aim of training men to go to war.
"Because the basic skill of the farmers, big solid farming lads who had a lot of experience with horses - it was thought they'd make good soldiers.
"There were 70 locals in the first call-up, 20 were sent to the Boer War. Fifty were sent away because they were too wild and their horses were too!
"The Mounted Rifles were established, Eketāhuna and Districts wanted to have their own squadron and applied to Wellington. They were told to join Pahiatua or Wairarapa. But no, they wanted their own unit and re-applied, to be granted status as the Eketāhuna Mounted Rifles seven months later. They then became part of C Squadron Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment in 1901.
"All were volunteers till 1911, some had been away to the Boer War. A. H. Herbert went and came back, becoming a colonel. In 1904 they procured their own uniform - bottle green with black facings and a plumed hat. Poncho cloaks were introduced in 1907.
"On the first Dominion Day in 1907 a squad from Eketāhuna went to Wellington to receive the King's colours from Governor-General Lord Plunket. This was on behalf of the entire Wellington Regiment (Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Wellington) Mounted Rifles. They were quite a staunch lot! Those colours ended up in the Eketāhuna Anglican Church.
"There were huge bush fires in 1907, the Eketāhuna Mounted Rifles were involved with fighting the fire. They also spent time as the local militia, they came from pioneering families. There is a list of names at the Eketāhuna Mellamskov Museum, a lot of local names can be recognised.
"They camped on Parsons' Flats where the Golf Club is now. They had to bury a lot of ammunition there because a fire was coming through," she said.
New Zealand horses proved to be the best in the theatre of war.
"Young lads from New Zealand were amazing horsemen," said Terry Kingi. "They could make anything move. The British High Command said in a despatch 'of all the horses that went to the Middle east from Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa - the New Zealand horse was the most superior of them all.'
"It held it's condition due to the men feeding the horses better than they fed themselves. The last drop of water they would give to their horses. They were exceptional in looking after their animals.
"A lot of the horses came from Mount White Station in Canterbury with a big white blaze. When the war was finished, the English paid a nominal fee and took the horses back to England - the best!
"If you look at the horse guard at Buckingham Palace with a white blaze, they are descendants from Mount White Station.
"There were six machine-gun squadrons which could go on full gallop with a strapped down machine-gun. First they were Lewis machine-guns as pictured with a water cooling tank strapped onto the side of the horse, then Hoskings machine-guns. They would ride up to 30 to 40 miles (70km) at night behind the enemy line when they were going up to Jordan.
"Lots of locals from Eketāhuna and District fought at Akakara to take on the Turks who were also on horseback. We lost one casualty. It was the only time in the war that they fought on horseback on both sides.
"For the campaign at Bathsheba to be successful, locals were mounted and took on a hill of which they had to ride up the last 100 metres. They were not allowed to fire a single shot until they got to the Turks who had dug-outs loaded with machine-guns. If they hadn't taken it out within 20 minutes of Bathsheba, the Australians would have been slaughtered in the crossfire," said Terry.