The War Years at Stratford’s Pioneer Village

A honey tank patrolled Stratford’s Pioneer Village on Sunday. The 1942 Stuart tank was very good to drive and eventually became known as the “honey tank” because of this, owner Ross Allen said. The tank, along with jeeps, trucks and a dodge command car, were on display at The War Years event which was held annually at Pioneer Village.


When Allen got the American tank 20 years ago it was in pieces, he said. “We fully restored it. We do re-enactments as much as we can.”This included firing the 37mm gun, but they fired blanks, he said. “The machine guns weren’t working today.”


Village by Bren Gun Carrier!

Posted by Taranaki Pioneer Village on Saturday, 1 April 2017


Allen said the Stuart tanks were probably phased out during the 1950s. “This tank was used in New Zealand during the war. They would have trained in these and when they went to Italy and Africa they would have then gone into Shermans (tanks).”


Allen and fellow Taranaki Military Vehicles Club member Bill Crowe were wearing authentic US army gear they imported from the United States. “They make it for re-enactors,” Crowe said. Also in the crowd were steampunkers Alec and Jo Fuller. Steampunks wear clothing that referenced the Victorian era and steam technology with a bit of science fiction thrown in. ​Jo’s outfit had a New Zealand flag as a bustle.


“This is my nod to the Boer War in 1902. It was the first time they fought under Southern Cross, under the New Zealand flag,” she said. “I’m portraying a doctor today. Being a women you want to be useful. Kiwi women first to get the vote so I can’t see why in my steampunk persona I can’t be a doctor in the war. “It’s all touches of Victorian, Edwardian women with the theme that is the war.”


Alec’s steampunk persona was doing reconnaissance, he said. There were also pony rides, little train was running around the village, craft ladies selling their work and the Stratford Pipe Band was entertaining, Pioneer Village board member Raewynn Hodge said. And the Stratford Aero Club were doing a flyover in a de Havilland and a replica Mustang, Hodge said.