Chance to get close to military memories

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Checking out a small selection of what the Military Adventure Group intends displaying at the Militaria & Aviation Extravaganza are (from left) aviation museum members Stephen Johnston and Dennis Swaney with (front) Phil Nelson from the Military Adventure Group. Below: The uniform on the left is from World War 1 and from a South Canterbury regiment, while the artillery uniform on he right dates back to the 1880s.

Living military and aviation history will be on show at a big fundraising event in Ashburton over Waitangi weekend.

The Militaria & Aviation Extravaganza will showcase the Ashburton Aviation Museum’s extensive collection of preserved aircraft and will offer a close up of vehicles, uniforms, weapons and vintage cars.

Displays will include a big uniform collection spanning 150 years, from the Maori Wars through to Timor-Leste.

Members of the Military Adventure Group (MAG) from Christchurch will set up army displays, offer rides in military vehicles and share their enthusiasm for war history.

MAG member Phil Nelson said there were expected to be over 60 uniforms on show and a display that wouldn’t be seen anywhere else in New Zealand.

He said MAG members were personal collectors who wanted to keep history alive.

The items they owned told stories and featured family history.

Mr Nelson said displays would include weapons and items like army pay books, and would offer a taste of what it was like to be both behind the lines and on the front line.

There would be a focus on the role of women in the forces, a taste of German militaria and atmospheric 1940s dance music and singing in the background.

The MAG group was keen to support Ashburton Aviation Museum, which was rightly acknowledged as one of the finest in the country.

Mr Nelson said MAG hoped the extravaganza weekend could become biennial.

The Militaria & Aviation Extravaganza is a major fundraiser for Ashburton Aviation Museum, which is looking to build another big hangar to display its extensive collection.

Museum spokesman Dennis Swaney said the extravaganza event was coming together nicely.

“It’s a learning curve for the museum, but we’re excited to be hosting it and grateful for the support of groups like MAG that have come on board.”

Mr Swaney said he believed there would be huge interest South Island-wide in the event.

“Where else will you be able to view military vehicles, uniforms and a range of weapons. Vintage cars are always great to see, especially so when they fit in with the period this event covers.

“And don’t forget all our magnificent aircraft display to show off as well.”

Mr Swaney said it was hoped to get local cadet units and colleges involved in some way as well.

Anyone interested in supplying items for military or aviation displays is welcome to contact the MAG group (noel@nullmag.org.nz) or aviation museum (djswaney@nullxtra.co.nz).

-By Mick Jensen