Inaugural International Day of The Donkey October 7, 2006
By Joanne Hardy
Photos: copyright of the Wairarapa Times-Age
On 7 October 06 members enjoyed a picnic with their donkeys at Henley Lake Masterton.
Present: Lynn Wyeth and her handsome, loving Cello; Jenny Mason and her sweet, been-there-done-that Mystee and also her spirited youngster, Arusha; Helen Rotman and Ally Foster and the very pretty Chess and the ever-patient and competent Artemis; Carol Bron and her dignified schoolmaster Thistle; Raewyn Ancell and her keen and energetic Noddy; and Joanne Hardy with gentle, unflappable Rani and Rani's keen-to-learn-it-all apprentice, Zina.
There was a healthy amount of interest shown by the public in donkeys and their care and welfare. To give the day an international dimension fact sheets were prepared comparing the lifestyles of donkeys living in New Zealand with the millions of donkeys living in the third world.
In many countries, in Africa for example, they are often considered the most important possession a family can own and where they play an integral part in national economic structures. Above all, in many third world countries they are an ally in the struggle for daily survival. Donkeys are generally cared for and work with the the women of rural families, where if not for the donkey, the women would become the beasts of burden. It is understandable, then, that when the donkey of the family dies the women cling together and weep. “Throughout the ages people have sung about their cattle, but donkeys were not sung about, painted, celebrated or considered special”. Fiona Marshall, 2004.
Back to New Zealand though and donkeys in Masterton. Jenny Mason, ever-patient with children gave rides graciously in the interests of donkey public relations. A lovely relaxed picnic was enjoyed by all in radiant sunshine. Who would have thought, after a week of near Antarctic conditions! We were lucky enough to have Carol Bron bring her champion harness donkey Thistle to give the public a display of accomplished harness work. After lunch and a photo shoot by the Wairarapa Times-Age, two-legged and four-legged friends enjoyed a brisk walk around the park which entailed negotiating lines of trees, limed pathways, dogs, humans and a little bridge at the end. All ended up safely back at camp.
Items for a raffle, organised by Peggy Martin, were donated by members. The raffle generated $57.00 for the Donkey and Mule Protection Trust.
Thank you to all those donkeys and people (and weather gods) who conspired to give us a day to remember!
What a neat day!
Noddy, Raewyn Ancel; Thistle, Carol Bron; Arusha, Jenny Mason: and Jenny's other donkey (far right) Mystee.
Please celebrate your donkey!