computer colourised from original photograph - circa 1915
Ira Evans was Killed in Action in France not as a "Trooper" in the Otago Mounted Rifles, but as a "Private" in the Infantry. His story is reflective of much of the history of the Otago Mounted Rifles. Departing New Zealand with their horses the Otagos believed they were to serve as mounted troops, instead they became Infantrymen, first at Gallipoli, then in Europe.
The death rate of soldiers on the Battle Fields of the Somme, Flanders and other actions of France and Belgium was to become a terrible statistic of hundreds of thousands of men. For many reinforcements that trained with the Otago MR in New Zealand their destination was not to be their Regiment but instead to fill up the gapping holes within the ranks of the New Zealand Rifle Brigades.

Full Name: Private Ira Rubel Evans
Serial No.: 9/2065
First Known Rank: Trooper
Occupation before Enlistment: Farmer
Next of Kin: Thomas Evans (father), Longbush, Southland, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation: New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Embarkation Unit: 10th Reinforcements Otago Mounted Rifles, D Squadron
Embarkation Date: 4 March 1916
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Vessel: Willochra or Tofua
Destination: Suez, Egypt
Last Unit Served: Otago Infantry Regiment
Killed in Action : Somme, France
Date of Death: 14 July 1916


5th Otago

7th Southland

12th Otago

The Otago Mounted Rifles

A group of Otago Mounted Rifles Officers sit for a photograph in 1917.

At the end of the Great War of 1914 - 18 the individual regiments within the NZMR Brigade set about officially recording their history of events to present to the New Zealand public. The Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury Regiments producing appropriate books. Unfortunately no official publication was ever completed of the Otago Mounted Rifles.
Early in the war when the NZMR joined the New Zealand Infantry on Gallipoli in May 1915, the Otago Mounted Rifles were very much part of the Brigade's compliment and their participation in actions where recorded in Colonel Fred Waite's "The New Zealanders at Gallipoli". However in 1916 the Otagos were sent on to fight as Infantry in Europe, from this time much of the Otagos long war history has been scattered about archives of various units. It is hoped that finally a competent history of the Otago Mounted Rifles will be made available in 2010.

Sir Henry Kelliher - the Otago Mounted Rifle's favourite son.

Sir Henry was New Zealand's most respected philanthropist and businessman of the 20th Century.
Henry Joseph Kelliher was born at Waikerikeri, near Clyde in Central Otago in 1896, the son of a pioneering farming family of Irish ancestry.
At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted with the Otago Mounted Rifles.He travelled overseas with the main contingent in 1914, and served the regiment for three and a half years - celebrating his 18th birthday in Egypt, seeing action at Gallipoli. Later on the Somme he was both gassed and wounded before returning home.

Henry's long and highly sucessful business career began when he purchased the wine and spirit business, Levers & Company Limited which, following a merger with Waitemata Breweries, was the driving force behind a successful flotation of Dominion Breweries in 1929. As Managing Director, Henry was responsible for implementing significant innovations in brewing techniques and initiated many progressive ideas, introducing novel improvements in equipping, upgrading and building hotels and taverns.

Sir Henry Kelliher
Knighted 1963.

Dominion Breweries was Sir Henry's dominant business activity
During the Depression, he became deeply concerned that thousands of unemployed were struggling to sustain their families and many children were suffering from malnutrition. Having established the Mirror Publishing Company in 1922, Henry commenced a crusade in The Mirror Magazine and, with the aid of others established the League of Health of New Zealand Youth, bringing about a national free milk scheme for school children. The scheme was adopted and later put into operation by the first Labour Government, continuing into 1960's. Henry had a lifelong interest in economics and published numerous books and pamphlets on the subject, including 'New Zealand at the Crossroads' in 1936, which ran to three editions. Henry also became a Director of the Bank of New Zealand that year, an appointment he chose to relinquish in 1942.
On the advice of a friend, Henry purchased Puketutu Island in the Manukau Harbour in 1938 and promptly established himself on the 500 acre property. Here Henry became a sucessful champion stud farmer. Stud production included Aberdeen Angus cattle, pedigree Ayrshire dairy cows, and Southdown, Romney and Suffolk sheep, with foundation stock purchased from overseas. He quickly gained national and international reputation for these breeds and sales at Puketutu Island were regularly attended by buyers, not only from within New Zealand but also overseas.
Established in 1956, The Kelliher Art Awards competition offered the first major and now best known art prizes in New Zealand, assisting to launch the careers of many New Zealand artists. The Awards reflected not only Henry's interest in painting, but also his admiration for this country and its richly varied scenery, reflecting the overall Kelliher philosophy of encouraging the pursuit of excellence. The Kelliher Art Trust was established in 1961 to ensure this legacy continued.

Henry received a Knighthood from the Queen in Wellington during 1963, and was also a Knight of the Order of St John. Henry established The Kelliher Economics Foundation in 1964 to encourage more widespread understanding. Each year, New Zealand university students were invited to submit an essay on a pre-determined topic, with scholarships awarded to the best entries.

Trooper 65129 PATRICK JAMES RABBITT, kauana,of the 7th Southland Mounted Rifles, and cousin 65058 WILLIAM RABBITT, clinton, of the 5th Otago hussars.

Otago Mounted Rifles Reunion menu