An oar from a Marlborough replica whaling skiff has been presented to the town of Marlborough in the United Kingdom during a ceremony attended by Olympian Sir Mark Todd and the acting New Zealand high commissioner.
The long steering oar was from the Swiftsure, the replica boat made in Blenheim by Ron Perano. The Swiftsure took part in the Queen's jubilee pageant on the River Thames in London last year.
It was crewed by Mr Perano and six students from Marlborough Boys' College, who travelled to London after a community fundraising campaign.
Acting New Zealand high commissioner Rob Taylor went to Marlborough, in Wiltshire, on Thursday to make the official presentation. He was joined by Sir Mark and fellow Kiwi equestrian Andrew Nicholson, who live in Wiltshire. Marlborough (Wiltshire) Mayor Edwina Fogg said she was honoured to receive the steering oar on behalf of the town.
Mr Taylor spoke about the Swiftsure's crew and said he was "totally in admiration of their endurance" during the regatta, as the rain lashed down and the tide turned against them on their way along the Thames.
He was pleased the event had produced a legacy that would strengthen links between the two regions.
There was also a message from the British high commissioner to New Zealand, Vicki Treadell, who is based in Wellington.
"There is so much we share with New Zealand from the names of our towns, cities and regions, to the strong people-to-people links," she said.
Mr Perano said one link came from Marlborough (Wiltshire) council staff member David Sherratt, who came up with the idea to have the oar on display. Mr Sherrat had lived in New Zealand and had written a history of New Zealand whaling, he said.
The town had originally asked for a copy of one of the oars to be sent, but instead Mr Perano decided to send the steering oar the crew had used.
The oar was damaged during a practice for the regatta and had to be held together with duct tape for the big day, but he had repaired it before sending it back to England, he said.
Marlborough Golf Club president Malcolm Hardstaff attended the ceremony marking another link between the club and the Rarangi Golf Club, near Blenheim.
Megan Richardson and William Hendry, students at St John's Academy, told the guests about their video-conference chats with students at Marlborough colleges in Blenheim.
There were also greetings from Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman, who pointed out the historical significance of the whaling industry to the link between Britain and New Zealand.
The oar was on show at the Marlborough Town Hall on Saturday.
- The Marlborough Express
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