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Animals role remembered

Shelly Render and Prue Hunter with donkeys Roxy and Charlie, and Grant Ogilvie and Rebecca Kent with donkeys Winter and Pippi. PHOTOS/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

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For those at the Carterton Anzac service on Thursday morning, it was not only about honouring brave men and women who served, but also about recognising the contribution of their equine counterparts.

In addition to the usual military representatives, the parade also included both a horse-drawn surrey and a drove of donkeys.

Mr Chips made his final appearance at the Anzac parade, with Pete a rescue horse set to replace him as the new Carterton surrey horse after his retirement.

Pete had been neglected to the point where he was “just skin and bones”, and was originally rescued from a property in Hawke’s Bay before being brought to Wairarapa as a potential replacement for 26-year-old Mr Chips.

“That’s why we wanted to start bringing in a younger horse,” Eion Clarke, who built the surrey carriage, said.

“We want this to go into the future.”

It took the former wheelwright around 800 hours to build.

He said he learned the craft when he first started as an apprentice blacksmith.

“Horses were just going out as I was starting.”

The surrey has been a Carterton Anzac service staple since 2015.

He said it was fitting, as it recognised the important role horses played in WWI.

More than 10,000 horses were acquired by the New Zealand Government from 1914 to 1916 for the war effort – only four returned to their homes.

Donkeys similarly played an important role as stretcher bearers in WWI – of 34,000 donkeys used in the army by Allied forces, only 1000 or so survived.

The story of real-life Private Simpson and his donkey, Murphy, carrying injured soldiers to safety has taken on legendary status.

Also making their first debut at this year’s parade were rescue donkeys Roxy, Charlie, Winter and Pippi, who recognised the contribution of earlier donkeys by following behind St John Youth Carterton.

Owner Grant Ogilvie said it had been lovely to take part in the parade.

“It’s great for the kids. It helps educate them about the history of donkeys in the war.

“It’s a real privilege to show our respect this way.”

He donned his great-grandfather’s medals as they marched and said it was an “honour” to be able to wear them.

Karen Jackson with replicas of her father’s medals.

For fellow Carterton resident Karen Jackson, Anzac services are a tradition carried on from her childhood.

“I’ve been going to these sorts of things since I was a kid. I would never miss them.

“I love seeing the kids go.”

Her father served under General Freyberg in WWII.

She said he never spoke of the difficult parts of war, only the funny stories and memories with friends.

“They thought it was exciting.

“He just always told us the funny stories. But now I know.”

In 2015, she had replicas made of his medals so they could be passed on to the next generation.

“It’s lovely that they’ll know what it’s all about,” she said.

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