Descendants of Canterbury Mounted Rifles Brigade pay homage to fallen ancestors

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was one of WWI's most fierce horseback units.

Today, descendants of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Brigade paid homage to their fallen ancestors with 100 men and women riding 100 horses, some of which trace their lineage to those very horses that went to war.

They rode, they fought together and they died together.

Orders that were commonly heard by the saddled soldiers of the Canterbury Mounted Rifle Brigade at war.

Flynn Crean says, “They came from all around, you could get in if you had a horse and a rifle and you could afford a uniform, so they just met up and trained and they got shipped away.”

Terry Kingi says, “The men of the High Country here they all come from many walks of life, they had hopes and dreams and they didn’t come home.”

Among these 100 riders, 6 direct descendants of the returned soldiers took to the saddle.

Atea Titikaaroa-Raea says, “Pretty proud of it today. I’m actually pretty stoked when I got approached to be a part of this. So I did everything I can to make sure everything goes smoothly today with all the training, the practice and just getting to know everyone around here.”

Crean says, “They were about my age, maybe a little younger. I've heard stories about people being 15, 14 getting killed over there so that’s another reason for me.”

525 soldiers left, but only 334 returned, the 100 riders are a tribute to the fallen soldiers.

Now the small town of Waikari will ensure the legacy of the men and their horses will live on.