Recreating history of ancient Rome

GEOFF LEWIS
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014

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Peter Rogers was delighted when wife Elen decided they should honeymoon in Italy. A Roman history buff, he couldn't have asked for a more interesting place.

Mr Rogers is the armourer for Imperium Romana, a mostly Auckland-based historic re-enactment group which focuses on Roman-era culture and combat techniques in shows and demonstrations.

Members of the group are scheduled to help host night events on February 20 and March 20 associated with the Waikato Museum's Roman Machines: Julius Caesar - Military Genius and Mighty Machines which can be seen until May 4.

A diesel technician working for Walsh Motors near Cambridge, Mr Rogers comes from Caernarfon in Wales, not far from where Roman governor Paulinus and his legions slaughtered the British druids in 59AD.

Mr Rogers and his wife arrived in New Zealand about four years ago when he began a new job in the north Waikato town of Tuakau.

"We had intended to come out for one year tops. Our visas were running out; we kept extending them and decided we liked the place so much we'd stay."

Mr Rogers had dabbled in historic re-enactment while in Wales and thought he'd have to give it up when he came to New Zealand.

"In Europe people are spoilt for choice when it comes to re-enactment activities.

"Some groups are run as a business and work for the Discovery or History television channels."

However, getting involved means finding, buying or, in Mr Rogers' case, making the necessary equipment.

"Once you get into it you realise a lot of stuff is hard to get or very expensive so I decided to use my metalworking skills.

"Making it is half the fun. It takes work to get things to fit properly."

So far he has been responsible for outfitting most of the group and has made by hand a selection of gladiatorial and infantry helmets, armour and shields.

"One of the most important things to the infantry soldier was visibility.

"That didn't matter so much with gladiators.

"The main thing with them was to ensure they lasted longer, which provided better entertainment."

The Romans were an inventive lot and could call upon a wide range of unpleasant weaponry.

Mr Roger's creations are made of materials including steel, brass and leather.

Based in Auckland, Imperium Romana historic re-enactment group has a core of about 10 members and another 30 associates. Its major performances during the year, including mock battles and gladiatorial contests, take place at the Cambridge Armistice Day, the Howick Military Tattoo and a variety of smaller events including educational displays at schools.

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Anyone interested in the activities of Imperium Romana can email imperium@clear.net.nz or check the website. Club president John Maine can be contacted on j.maine@xtra.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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