Charge of the light-er brigade
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.