An interest in all-things military

Duncan McGregor at the Fiordland Military Vehicles Museum.

IT’S not the vegetables in McGregor’s garden which are enticing people to visit, it’s the collection of historic military vehicles – row upon row.

On the way to Te Anau from Mossburn, at the bottom of Gorge Hill, were two large sheds which housed the family-owned Fiordland Military Vehicles Museum.

War veterans, various car clubs, community service groups and even a steampunk group have toured the sheds and grounds, most in awe of the collection.

Set up and expanded by Duncan and Tina McGregor, a professional photographer, the museum was a privately owned collection of military vehicles and memorabilia.

It began, as most collections do, with one item, in this case, a truck.

“In 2007, the first truck came from Wanaka,” Mr McGregor said.

Among the collection were various trucks from World War 2, jeeps, a four-wheel-drive scout car, a M113 armoured personnel carrier, which was on loan from the Waiouru Army Museum, and a 1942 D8 18 tonne Caterpillar crawler/bulldozer from the Pacific, parked in methodical rows.

“People who built these made big money in the war,” Mr McGregor said.

The two sheds had a combined floor area of more than 800sqm, one which was filled mostly with American trucks, and the other with New Zealand ones.

As with all things military, each vehicle’s presentation was pristine, and all were in running order.

Although some trucks were in original condition, Mr McGregor said he had restored or worked on many of the vehicles.

Memorabilia from more recent wars and conflicts including Malaya, including photographs, personal items and models were also on display among the trucks.

Adding to the atmosphere, surrounded by shrubs in an adjacent paddock, a bunker had been recreated, and an enormous anti-aircraft reflector light was also on display in one of the sheds.

Mr McGregor’s interest in all-things military began when attending Anzac Day commemorations as a young boy with his father, he said.

It ignited an interest which he had continually added to his knowledge, including visiting former military sites such as Normandy in France for the 65th and 70th anniversaries of D-Day commemorations and Gallipoli in Turkey.

Mr McGregor was the vice-president of the New Zealand Military Vehicle Collectors Club which had more than 200 members who were enthusiastic about preserving, restoring, operating and displaying former military vehicles.

The McGregors also took some of their vehicles to Anzac parades and Armistice Day commemorations and other events such as War Birds over Wanaka.

Although the McGregors were keen to share their museum with others, they preferred to open it to groups by appointment only.

“The biggest group we have had here was 130 people from a car club, which included a sit-down meal as a community fundraiser,” he said.