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Mystery of masked men and hooded horses

A photograph dating back to the early 1900s has experts stumped. SUPPLIED BY WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE

CHELSEA BOYLE

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A photograph of what is thought to be a masked militia astride hooded horses dating back to the early 1900s has stumped the team at Wairarapa Archive.

John Wardell, from a pioneering Wairarapa family, discovered the photo while sorting through his family’s things.

Up until 2002, Te Whiti Homestead, east of Masterton, had been in his family, he said.

Thankfully, Mr Wardell’s predecessors “never threw things away” that related to their history there.

Mr Wardell believes the photo must have been taken on the homestead’s lawn.

“We certainly recognise the lawn, and the trees behind,” he said.

“I took it over to the then owner of the homestead, Roger Ternent, and he and his wife both said without question that it’s that lawn.”

They had shown it to other people who knew the homestead well, and nobody felt unsure of the location, he said.

Archivist Gareth Winter, of Wairarapa Archive, said the who, what and where of the much-discussed photo had eluded the team at the archive.

“We were scratching our heads,” Mr Winter said. “We’re not sure where it is — it might be Queen Elizabeth Park even…”

The terrain looked too flat to be Te Whiti Homestead, he said.

“Most of those people are Maori, which makes it even more puzzling…We’re totally bemused.”

“My only guess would be something to do with raising funds for the Boer War or World War 1.”

The archive was keen to find out more about the people in the photograph.

 

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