Council takes charge of Clyde field gun

Clyde's wartime field gun sits on display next to the town's cenotaph. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Clyde's wartime field gun sits on display next to the town's cenotaph. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON
A tug of war over Clyde's wartime field gun has ended with guardianship being handed over to the Central Otago District Council.

The howitzer gun was bought by Cromwell woman Rowena Owens and donated to Clyde as a community project in 1993.

The gun was installed alongside Clyde's cenotaph after being certified inoperable by the New Zealand Defence Force with an Innocuous Weapons Certificate.

However, Mrs Owens discovered the gun was missing last September, and it turned out the Alexandra-Clyde RSA had removed the gun for restoration, without being aware of its ownership.

The RSA returned the gun, without having done any work to it, when they realised they did not own it.

Guardianship of the gun has now been transferred to the Central Otago District Council following a request from Mrs Owens.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said at this week's council meeting the move followed "one of the more unusual phone calls I've had, with someone phoning me up and saying `I need your help, someone has stolen my cannon'."

The legal ownership of the gun would always lie with the Government's Defence Force, as the gun had been a wartime weapon, acting council chief executive Louise van der Voort said.

Councillors voted to accept the ongoing guardianship of the gun and said it would be useful to know the status of other war guns and monuments in Central Otago, including for reasons of health and safety and liability.

Ms van der Voort said the Defence Force was doing a nationwide inventory of wartime guns so that would provide useful information.

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