War service of animals honoured

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Memorable tribute . . . Wreaths laid at the foot of a plaque honouring the wartime service of animals. The plaque was unveiled at the Rangiora War Memorial Cenotaph last Friday. Photo: Katrina Templeton

By SHELLEY TOPP

A flurry of feathers .Pigeons find their wings after being released during the service in honour pigeons and their war service. PHOTO: ARTHUR LINNELL

A plaque honouring the wartime service of animals has been unveiled at the Rangiora War Memorial Cenotaph.

The granite plaque was unveiled by Waimakariri District Mayor, Dan Gordon and one of the organisers, Thereza Rosanowski, of Okuku, last Friday evening.

It features a war horse, a camel, a donkey, a dog and a pigeon and is inscribed with the words: “Dedicated to all the animals that served in wars and conflicts. They died for our country. We honour and thank them”.

A flurry of feathers . . . Pigeons find their wings after being released during the service to honour the war service of pigeons. Photo: Arthur Linnell

Seven wreaths were laid, including one from the Rangiora RSA, the Rangiora RSA Women’s Section, the Rangiora Pony Club, NZ Service Animals and Memorials, NZ Veterinarians, the Waimakariri District Council and the Canterbury Regiment.

At the end of the ceremony Rangiora pigeon owner Tony Hyde, helped brother and sister, Juliana Carter, aged seven, and Kelekolio Carter, aged five, of Okuku, release 40 pigeons while their sister, Haylley sang the National Anthem.

It is believed honouring the war service of animals in this way is a first in New Zealand. A war horse, a donkey and a dog, plus Tony’s pigeons, were at the ceremony to represent them.

Thereza says the event had been planned since 2015 and would not have happened without help from Ann Stewart and Clare Hammond plus the RSA national president, Barry Clark, Rangiora RSA president, Ian Thompson and the Waimakariri District Council.

“It takes a community to organise something like this,”Thereza said.