The blast of noise and smoke as a tank engine fires up brings
a smile to the face of Mark Cameron.
As other spectators gather round, Mr Cameron, of Port
Chalmers, sits proudly in the driver's seat of his very own
1968 armoured personnel carrier.
He bought the British-built fighting vehicle in England three
years ago for ''less than a Harley-Davidson'', and had it
shipped to Dunedin to display at military re-enactment events
around New Zealand.
But he told the Otago Daily Times the real magic only
really happened when the engine roared, bringing the entire
machine to life.
''A vehicle doesn't really show its true colours until it's
in motion,'' he said, after gunning the engine for a small
crowd of spectators.
His daughter, Isabella (6), smiled in agreement as she
clutched a mounted machine gun: ''I like the noise.''
Mr Cameron's steel beast was part of a small but intimidating
arsenal of military hardware on display at the Otago-Taieri
A&P Showgrounds over the weekend.
The event was organised by the HQ44 South Military Collectors
Club and featured about 40 vehicles, as well as 30
re-enactment enthusiasts in mainly World War 2-era Allied and
Axis uniforms, club secretary-treasurer Darryl Brewer said.
Most were from Dunedin, but some had come from around the
South Island to take part in the two-day display, which
showed off the equipment in a series of re-enacted military
The event - which doubled as a fundraiser for the Mosgiel RSA
- drew a small but enthusiastic crowd on Saturday to inspect
the mix of World War 2, Vietnam War and more modern
Neighbours' concerns about noise meant there was no live
firing at the event, but a series of re-enactments went ahead
without the gunfire.
Mr Cameron, a club member, said the event was a chance to
meet like-minded enthusiasts and swap stories of relatives'
He had been coming to similar shows for up to 10 years,
including Warbirds over Wanaka, and during busy summer months
could attend one, somewhere in the country, every few weeks.
But his own passion for military hardware extended to
preserving important pieces of history, he said.
An APC like his, in good working order, could sell for
between $30,000 and $50,000. His collection also included a
Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun, a Bedford truck and a
British-built Daimler Ferret scout car that saw active
service with British forces during the first Gulf War.
Mr Cameron also managed to get a giant Rolls-Royce Meteor
tank engine running on Saturday afternoon, generating a blast
of noise and smoke that sent some spectators scurrying away
with hands over ears.
Asked what the appeal was, he said: ''I like preserving
history. One vehicle at a time, I guess.''