Charge of the light-er brigade

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEWTSO

Three mock black stal­lions that were once in­volved in a plot to re­name Up­per Hutt will see out their days do­ing char­ity work.

The life­size fi­bre­glass horses have found a new home at Rid­ing for the Dis­abled’s (RDA) na­tional head­quar­ters in Porirua.

The nags spent over a decade with Up­per Hutt re­tailer Colin Gibbs af­ter his un­suc­cess­ful cam­paign in the 2000s to change Up­per Hutt’s name to Tren­tham.

RDA chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Hooper said he’d never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Al­though not the sort of horses they were used to, the fi­bre­glass beasts were a unique and gen­er­ous do­na­tion. They would be used to pro­mote their work in pro­vid­ing ther­a­peu­tic horse ex­pe­ri­ences for more than 3000 dis­abled New Zealan­ders.

Gibbs used 24 of the replica horses to pro­mote his re­branded Tren­tham City Shop­ping Cen­tre in Up­per Hutt. The new mall name sparked the short-lived re­nam­ing cam­paign.

Though Gibbs now ad­mits it was a mar­ket­ing ploy, he had long felt Up­per Hutt needed to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self from south­ern neigh­bours Lower Hutt. Tren­tham was favoured for its con- nec­tion with na­tion­ally recog­nised es­tab­lish­ments.

‘‘The [Tren­tham] rac­ing track and army base are a very well­known lo­cal­ity within New Zealand.’’

The horses were meant to evoke a sense of iden­tity. His idea was to drop them off to prom­i­nent places around the city to gen­er­ate dis­cus­sion.

Up­per Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy re­called Gibbs’ plan from ‘‘2007 or 2008’’ never gained any trac­tion.

Nei­ther Gibbs nor Guppy rated the chances of Up­per Hutt be­ing re­named any time soon.

Gibbs said he and his wife, Mau­reen, were mov­ing to Whakata¯ne and would not be tak­ing their horses with them. He was glad the last of his old friends would be earn­ing their keep by working for a good cause.

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