Kaikōura honour mounted rifles during ANZAC service

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Kaikōura has marked the centenary of the end of World War I with a special dawn service. 

Local Mounted Rifles troops and a Light Horse Regiment rider from Australia formed a guard of honour to commemorate the ANZAC veterans who fought 100 years ago.

“It would have been hard yards I'd say back then,” says Kaikōura Mounted Rifle, Cowan Wards of Ngāi Tahu, “Stepping out today is a great thing for what they've done for us and the way that they've shaped history over the years for our freedom”.

In 1918, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles and 7th Light Horse Regiment from Australia were dispatched back to Gallipoli to bury their fallen comrades following the signing of the armistice.

Today, two descendants also honoured their efforts.

“I think it's a great honour for my family to keep that tradition going,” says Terry Kingi, ride organiser and descendant of John Coppell of the Nelson Mounted Rifles, "Even though our family took a high price and a lot of them didn't come home”.

Joseph Robert, a descendant of a rider of the Light Horse Regiment says, “It means a lot for me to come to another country and represent us Australians who rode, fought and died alongside all of the New Zealanders, Māori, and keeping the ANZAC tradition alive”.

The effects of the earthquake which rocked the tourist town two years ago can still be seen, but the spirit of remembrance is alive and well among the many locals.

“The community has united since the quake affected us.  Adults, school children, and families are here, Māori and non-Māori,” says local, John Tait, “We're still connected in that spirit”.

“The up-thrust of the seabed ground through this area here,” said Kingi.  “We were planning on having the waka come in but we ran into a lot of major problems not knowing where the reefs had popped up”.

Kingi's next project is to create a feature film around eight Māori soldiers and their horses, including his ancestor.