Kiwi connection

Circular Head RSL president Rod Wells, manager Dell Targett, New Zealand-born member Ashley Ker and committee member Mick Shelly unroll the New Zealand flag in preparation for this weekend’s New Zealand Welcome Day. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Heritage. Its national bird may be flightless, but the New Zealand flag will fly strongly in the wind this weekend in a tribute to our island neighbours.

Circular Head RSL is looking to make the most of two new flagpoles at the front of its Nelson Street building, inviting the community to a New Zealand Welcome Day on Saturday to raise the red-starred flag alongside Australia’s in a first for the club.

Having designed and built the new poles for erection before the new year, committee member Mick Shelly said it was pleasing to be able to “show the respect” to a country with a particularly close connection to Australia through wartime service.

“It’s not just to fly the flag, but to welcome the New Zealand people into the district,” he said.

“We’ve got quite a few members now in the community. In the last few years we’ve seen an influx due to the dairy industry.”

Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam will be on hand to conduct an official welcome at 11.45am, before the New Zealand flag will be raised for the first time with a barbecue and refreshments to follow.

An estimated six New Zealanders out of a total of 418 RSL members are involved within the club, while there is believed to be more than 80 families residing in the district.

One of those members is dairy farmer Ashley Ker, who made the one-way trip across the Tasman in 1992 at the age of 21, buying a dairy farm at Togari with the aim of establishing himself within the community.

“It was pretty hard for a while, but everyone was good,” he said of the transition. “I found the Circular Head community is willing to help you out.

“There weren’t that many New Zealanders here when I came – there are a lot more now.”

Ash settled in to the area and married Smithton girl Cherrylyn, now the father of three children while managing around 2500 cows across a number of properties in Circular Head.

He said “farming in general” has changed over the years in its methods, believing his countrymen brought “a different aspect” to the industry in their techniques used on the land.

Though the event unintentionally coincides with this year’s Anzac Day centenary commemorations, an official protocol on the New Zealand flag restricts the amount of time it can be raised throughout the year, generally reserved for significant events.



What: New Zealand Welcome Day

When: Saturday March 28, 11am to 4pm

Where: Circular Head RSL, Nelson Street

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