Rajah: Methven's Wonder Dog

Rajah became famous in history as Methven's unofficial police dog in the 1930s and possibly the first police dog in New Zealand.

Although unofficial, Rajah became something of a legend in New Zealand as a police dog who helped solve crimes. The German shepherd was only six weeks old when his owner Constable John Robertson and his son Ian began training him using a search and find method. Soon Rajah was able to understand 52 commands and had a remarkable ability to locate items. He assisted Robertson in his duties and was very perceptive at finding concealed objects. On occasions, he was also used to help track offenders and find remains.

It is said Rajah only failed once, when he was used to help locate a missing woman. The police believed the woman was the victim of foul play and her body was dumped along a railway line that was under construction. Robertson and Rajah spent a week searching without success. Many years later it was discovered why Rajah could not find the body when a flood in the area took out one of the bridge pillars exposing the remains of the missing woman embedded in the concrete.

When Rajah was not assisting Robertson with police work, he would entertain people around New Zealand with his talents. When Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, Hollywood was interested in replacing the film star with Rajah but Robertson felt the move to the US was too much.

Rajah was born in 1928 and passed away in 1942. Ian, in his later years, proudly said "He was really the world's best." In 2015, a bronze statue of Rajah was placed at the entrance of the Mount Hutt Function Centre in Methven to celebrate Rajah "the Wonder Dog" and his contribution to the town's history.