Acting New Zealand High Commissioner Rob Taylor was the guest of honour at a reception in Marlborough Town Hall to mark the town’s international links.

Mr Taylor officially presented Marlborough with the steering oar from the Swift Sure, a replica of an 1810 New Zealand whaling boat rowed by students from Marlborough Boys’ College, New Zealand, in the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.

He said: “Events like this are important in maintaining our links, but it’s about more than that.

“It is significant that whaling was part of New Zealand hundreds of years ago. Now whales are protected in New Zealand but back then our whaling industry provided Britain with oil to light street lamps and the presentation of this oar is almost like we have gone full circle.

“I have total admiration for the crew on the Swift who showed great endurance as the rain poured down on them during the Thames river pageant.

“This oar represents our links and our friendship which I hope will continue to grow.”

The oar was accepted on behalf of the town by the mayor of Marlborough, Edwina Fogg.

She said: “ The reception is a way to celebrate our international ties. We have had strong links with the Gunjur in Gambia for 30 years, with Marlborough in New Zealand, and the city of Marlborough in Massachusetts.

“It’s an honour to receive the oar on behalf of the town. I hope it will bring about greater ties between the two Marlboroughs.”

Other guests at the ceremony included members of the New Zealand eventing team, Gambian Malang Darbo and Dr Nick Maurice from the Marlborough Brandt Group.

St John’s students William Hendry and Megan Richardson spoke of the academy’s video conference chats with pupils at Marlborough College in New Zealand.