Nelson Judge Peter Lyall checks a hard-feathered bantam,
helped by recorder Serena O'Brien (12), of Oamaru, on the
first day of the Oamaru Poultry, Pigeon and Canary
Society's annual show in the Drill Hall. Photo by David
Fancy pigeons bred by local farmer Barrie Rae were among
the attractions at the Oamaru Poultry, Pigeon and Canary
Society's 130th annual show last month.
Society treasurer Trevor Hill said Mr Rae was ''renowned New
Zealand-wide for the way he prepares for a show''.
His fantail pigeons are gleaming white, their tail feathers
displayed in perfect formation.
Mr Rae said he simply washes the edges of the birds' wings
with water and cleans their feet. The pigeons stay white of
their own accord and are very quiet and easy to handle.
He inherited his father's love of breeding pigeons and has
been involved with them since he was a preschooler. There was
a hiatus when he was busy setting up his sheep farm, then his
children left him their pigeons once their own interest in
Mr Rae has become a stalwart of the Oamaru show, while his
wife, Lyn, helps to feed the team of helpers at the Drill
Hall for the two-day event.
There were ''so few people'' breeding fancy pigeons now that
it was no longer very competitive, Mr Rae said. The breeders
were happy to help each other and to keep the old breeds
going in New Zealand. They were not allowed to be imported
Pigeons pair up ''virtually for life'' and ''live to a great
age'', Mr Rae said. The male and female take turns to sit on
Mr Hill said there were 783 entries from Blenheim to
Invercargill in this year's show - ''a wee bit leaner than
last year''. Some regular exhibitors were unable to attend.
The Oamaru show was still one of the biggest in New Zealand,
he said. Only Ashburton and Christchurch would have higher
It took a dozen people about six hours to set up the hall for
the Oamaru show.
Next year it would hold the national show from July 18 to 20,
with about 2000 birds expected from throughout New Zealand.
- Sally Brooker