Back in the flock after six decades

Malcolm Mather holds a Pekin bantam he has entered in the Oamaru Poultry, Pigeon and Canary...
Malcolm Mather holds a Pekin bantam he has entered in the Oamaru Poultry, Pigeon and Canary Society’s 136th annual show. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
Malcolm Mather last entered the Oamaru Poultry, Pigeon And Canary Society’s annual show when he was 17.

Sixty-one years later, he has returned, and his pigeons and bantams are primped, preened and on display for the 136th show, being held at the Drill Hall today and tomorrow.

Mr Mather’s interest in birds began when he was young.

As a teenager he entered about five shows, winning New Zealand and South Island champion titles, before deciding to give it up.

About three years ago, he got back in touch with fancy pigeon breeder Barrie Rae, who put him on to some pigeons and bantams, reigniting a passion for show birds.

He then joined the Oamaru Poultry, Pigeon and Canary Society.

Entering shows and being involved in the society were good ways to get out and meet people, he said.

He also enjoyed watching the birds develop to show-standard.

This year, 708 show birds — poultry, bantams, ducks, pigeons and aviary birds of all shapes, colours and sizes — will be on display at the Drill Hall in Itchen St.

Last year’s show was cancelled due to Covid-19, and society president Clint O’Brien said the pandemic’s effects were still being felt, with fewer entries than usual.

However, the Oamaru show was still one of the biggest in the South Island, and people were travelling from Nelson to Invercargill to compete, he said.

Mr O’Brien, who started entering shows when he was 14, said one of the great things about the Oamaru event was that it was open to all ages — ‘‘a 9-year-old can compete with a 78-year-old’’ — and the younger competitors could learn a lot.

The show is open to the public, from 9am to 5pm today and 9am to 3.30pm tomorrow, and there will also be birds for sale.

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