By John Smith •
Published: 01 Oct 2023 • 13:09
The Bulford Kiwi
Credit: Jonathanjosh1 Creative Commons
The United Kingdom has some 50 different chalk figures carved into the side of hills, mainly in the South of England due to the abundance of chalk in the ground.
Many, such as the Long Man of Wilmington, the Cerne Giant and the Uffington White Horse are well-known and many attract a number of visitors who have to be fit in order to tackle the various hills.
One that is more modern than most and also less well-known is the Bulford Kiwi which was cut into Beacon Hill in Bulford Wiltshire by New Zealand troops waiting for a ship to take them back home after the First World War.
It appears that their commanding officer, aware of dissatisfaction setting in because of the long delay in obtaining transport home made the troops create the Kiwi in order to stave off a possible mutiny.
The Ministry of Defence partnered with the New Zealand High Commission, local conservation groups, Landmarc and volunteers from the 3rd (UK) Division Signal Regiment and Operation Nightingale to restore the impressive carving which was losing its colour.
As part of the project to ensure the historic significance of the kiwi is preserved, an RAF Chinook helicopter flew over the site and dropped 100 tonnes of chalk, which was then raked into place by volunteers across the partnership groups whilst the Waiata song and Kukuri dance were performed.
As the All Blacks prepared to take on Italy at the Rugby World Cup on the MOD highlighted the connection between the soldiers who created the Kiwi and the ‘Trench All Blacks’ – a team of soldiers from New Zealand who won ‘The Somme Cup’, a special rugby division for those fighting in the war.
The soldiers who created the monument fought alongside the ‘Trench All Blacks’ during the Battle of Messines – often regarded as one of the most successful battles of the war.
Flight Lieutenant James Patrick who piloted the Chinook helicopter, a special task for him as a pilot on an exchange programme from New Zealand said “It’s only since I came over to the UK on the exchange programme that I found out more about the Bulford Kiwi – I did know there was a chalked kiwi in the UK, but that was about it.
“I’ve flown over it a few times, which is interesting because it looks totally different from the air than it does from land.”
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development.
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