Anzac flags going up in central Greytown. From left: Tony from Greytown Menz Shed, RSA president Bryce Gurney, Greytown Community Board chairwoman Ann Rainford, NZ Pacific Studio 2020/21 Anzac Bridge Fellow Esther Bunning, and Tom from Greytown Menz Shed. PHOTO/TERRY WREFORD HANN
From Eketahuna to Martinborough, flags are flying across Wairarapa in recognition of the horses of World War I.
Artist Esther Bunning created the flags, featuring horses, riders, and children’s art, to be displayed in six Wairarapa towns leading up to Anzac Day.
Originally awarded the NZ Pacific Studio Anzac Bridge Fellowship for 2020, Bunning had the fellowship extended to 2021 due to the impact of the lockdown on her work.
“It evolved and morphed,” Bunning said of the project.
“Obviously covid was a big component of what has happened over the last 12 months, but there have been so many silver linings to that.”
The lockdown meant that last year’s Anzac Mounted Troopers ride from Eketahuna to Kaiparoro could not go ahead as planned.
However, Bunning was able to photograph the riders when they came up for Armistice Day in November instead.
“Had it gone ahead as intended last year, they would have been present for Anzac Day, and of course that would have been the reveal, so they wouldn’t have been included [on the flags].”
Before lockdown, Bunning had photographed Eketahuna Community Board member Denise Clifton and her horse Sahara, with the intention to use them as the main features on the flags.
“I hadn’t really thought about using any other horses or riders for it because of the time factor, really. So, it was really amazing the way it worked out.”
Clifton still featured on many of the flags but was now joined by Canterbury Anzac Trooper Terry King.
One of the flags flying in all Wairarapa towns depicted the Armistice Day riders in formation along the ANZAC Memorial Bridge at Kaiparoro.
“They came up for five or six days and did the ride on the Sunday,” Bunning said.
“It was pouring with rain – it was really miserable. They lined up on the bridge and we got some photographs in the rain.”
Bunning also collaborated with pupils from Mauriceville School on special flags with drawings and stories superimposed over her photographs.
“One of the key components of the whole project was working with the local community, and Mauriceville School is in very close proximity to the Anzac Bridge, hence the reason we worked with them,” Bunning said.
She held an afternoon workshop at Mauriceville School where pupils put their creativity to work.
“The children totally got into the whole persona of either being a World War I soldier, or writing or drawing from the perspective of a horse.”
The collaborative flags would be revealed at Kaiparoro on Anzac Day.
Community groups and organisations had helped to raise the flags in each Wairarapa town: Eketahuna Mellemskov Museum, Masterton District Council, Carterton District Council, Greytown Community Board, Property Brokers Featherston, and Martinborough Community Board.
NZ Pacific Studio chairwoman Jean McCombie said she was grateful for the sponsorship of Trust House, and the help of the various councils, community groups, and corporate sponsors.
“NZ Pacific Studio is proud to have awarded Esther Bunning the Anzac Bridge Fellowship,” McCombie said. “The banners across Wairarapa are a poignant and visible display for all to see and reflect on.”
The Anzac Day service in Kaiparoro begins at 2pm on Sunday.