The sounds of battle ring out in Taranaki

Taranaki Medieval Society captain Matthew Poehler wears around 37kgs in battle armour.
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ

Taranaki Medieval Society captain Matthew Poehler wears around 37kgs in battle armour.

In 2012, a field in Inglewood was transformed into a battlefield.

Up to 60 people decked out in plate armour and chain mail wielded swords, axes, maces and poles and "fought" while a sound team recorded the clash of metal against metal and the thwack of wood colliding with wood.

The sounds of this "conflict" can now be heard in any battle scene in Sir Peter Jackson's trilogy of Hobbit films.

But only the filmmakers and those who took part in the recording session know who was responsible - for the Taranaki Medieval Society never got a credit and remain the blockbuster trilogy's unknown warriors.

Taranaki Medieval Society captain Matthew Poehler remembers organising the recording with Sir Peter's Wingnut production company, which was not happy with the sounds they originally had.

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"They had a sound desk with these noises that all sounded the same and nobody knew where they came from," Poehler explained.

"So we spent the day making every battle sound we could come up with for them to record and use in the films."

Though they did not receive a credit for their efforts, Poehler said he was not bothered - in fact, he said, it was "quite cool" to watch the films and know certain sounds were recorded in Inglewood.

The society has been running for around 18 years, and has altered its focus as members come and go. Originally a group of artisans creating medieval-styled art, the focus changed over the years to combat re-enactment.

The society trains every Tuesday night at the Westown Scout Hall, with 8-12 regular members meeting to hone their combat skills.

As well as being captain of the Society, Poehler is one of the trainers for the New Zealand team that competes at the International Medieval Combat Federation World Champs in Europe. In 2014, society member Sophie Moore-Stockbridge won a bronze medal in Spain. Poehler, a former paratrooper in the US army, explained his preference is close combat – opting for dual weapons, a pole weapon (two-handed) or a single mace - leaving a free had to grab his opponent.

"If people want to learn to fight with a knife, I can teach them that. If people want to learn archery, then we've got archers who can teach them," Poehler said.

Each member's gear reflects where their interests lie. For Poehler, also known as his in-game persona Oskar der Drachen, equipment includes 14th century-style plate steel armour instead of chain mail, with both his armour and weaponry coloured black.

"I don't like the shining armour thing and I suppose it's a bit of a statement," said Poehler, who often gets called  The Dark Knight.

Despite the society practising medieval combat, Poehler said during his time in New Zealand he hasn't seen any major in-game injuries. "I haven't seen anything past a scalp wound or a cut finger.

"We don't consider things like bruises injuries – we're whacking each other with steel weapons.'

 - Stuff

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