The Gisborne Overseas Rifle Club. What does this title mean? In 1913, didn’t all rifles come from overseas? Maybe you had to have seen action overseas (Boer War) to be considered for membership?
These were some of the questions museum staff had when cataloguing this image. After a little investigation the answer to the strange title became apparent, but not without a little controversy.
The rifle club (one of a number in Gisborne at the time) was formed under the auspices of the Overseas Club. In 1911 the Overseas Club had over 36,000 members. Its creed was to ‘Maintain the heritage of Empire and Freedom handed down by our fathers,’ and to ‘Insist upon the necessity for self defence.’ The organisers of the Gisborne Overseas Rifle Club saw a need to be equipped to rebel an invasion of the enemy from overseas and believed internal politics were unprepared for such.
However the right to use the Overseas name in the formation of the club was denied by the Overseas Club who did not want any rifle club in New Zealand to use its name. Chas J Allen (seated) with rallying and local support finally convinced the Overseas Club to allow usage of the name.
The photograph of the group was taken in the studios of William F Crawford, the painted backdrop was a scene of the Motu bush and lake.