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The Silk Route - World Travel: New Zealand: Wellington
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New Zealand: Wellington
February 2017

Walking the City Te Papa Pukeahu National War Memorial Park Flying Out
 Wellington, New Zealand


A modern, busy city on the southern tip of the North Island; while we were there we visited two extremely impressive exhibitions on New Zealand in the First World War.

Walking the City

Ombra on Cuba St, Wellington, New Zealand
Ombra on Cuba St.
Statue of Kupe, waterfront, Wellington, New Zealand
Statue of Kupe, waterfront.
Kupe was the legendary explorer who set sail from Polynesia and reached New Zealand over a thousand years ago. He was accompanied by his wife, Te Aparangi, who is credited with giving New Zealand its nickname: as they approached New Zealand she cried "He ao, he ao, he ao tea, he ao tea roa!" "A cloud, a cloud, a white cloud, a long white cloud!" and the land became Aotearoa - "Land of the Long White Cloud".1

 

The very first place we visited on arrival in Wellington was for lunch!

Having dropped our car at Hertz we wandered into the city and came to Cuba Street - full of places to eat. We decided to have lunch at Ombra where the emphasis is on sharing food. It looks very much like a converted garage where the money has run out, but has a nice buzzy atmosphere and the staff are great. Excellent Garage Project beers, margherita pizzette - very good San Marzano tomato sauce - and good prosciutto with very hard grissini.

We then wandered in the direction of Te Papa, the famous museum. Most of the action in the city seems to be around the harbour and the harbour area was the main attraction for the first settlers too.

Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Cannon from the Endeavour.
When James Cook's ship the Endeavour got stuck on the Great Barrier Reef in June 1770 it was decided to throw heavy objects overboard to enable the ship to float off. This was one of ten cast iron cannon on board. It was discovered almost 200 years later thickly encrusted with coral.
Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand

 

The Maori name for Wellington is Te Whanganui-a-Tara - great harbour of Tara, named after the son of a chief, Whatonga, who had settled on the Hawke's Bay coast. Tara and his half-brother were sent to explore the south of the North Island by their father and they were so taken with what they saw that Whatonga's followers moved there, founding the Ngati Tara tribe.

Shed 5, Wellington, New Zealand
Shed 5 on Queen's Wharf, Lambton Harbour, one of the two oldest buildings on the waterfront. dating from 1887 it was converted in 1992 and is now a restaurant.

The English sea captain James Cook made three voyages of discovery to New Zealand between 1769 and 1777, but European settlers did not arrive until 1840, intent on buying land from the Maori. Whatever transactions took place, there have been many disputes about land ownership since then.

 

Lambton Harbour, Wellington, New Zealand
View from Lambton Harbour.

The original waterfront was on Lambton Quay but land reclamation has pushed this back from the coast - it is now a very busy shopping street and the waterfront is now along Waterloo, Customhouse and Jervois Quays.

Bronze statue of John Plimmer and his dog Fritz, Wellington, New Zealand
Bronze statue of John Plimmer, the "Father of Wellington" and his dog Fritz at the foot of Plimmer Steps.

 

MRC Building, Wellington, New Zealand
Reflection of the MLC Building in modern glass-fronted buildings on Lambton Quay.

At the southern end of Lambton Quay is Plimmer steps, named after John Plimmer, sometimes called the "Father of Wellington". He had great influence in the development of the city, almost from the time of his arrival in 1841 from England. He was an entrepreneur and businessman, politician, and founding member of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company.2 He lived at the head of Plimmer steps and could often be seen in the vicinity with his dog Fritz. and there is now a lovely bronze there, immortalising the pair.

Right at the southern end of Lambton Harbour on Oriental Bay is the fine Art Deco Central Fire Station. It is in excellent condition

Wellington Cenotaph, Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington Cenotaph and Rotunda
The cenotaph was originally a First World War memorial but after the Second World War bronze lions and friezes were added and it now is a memorial to both wars. It is a focus of the Anzac day commemorations.
MRC Building, Wellington, New Zealand
The Art Deco Central Fire Station
Wellington Cenotaph, Wellington, New Zealand
On the Wellington Cenotaph.
Wellington Cenotaph, Wellington, New Zealand

 

We'd driven down from Tongariro, a four hour drive but no problem at all - there were more dead possums on the road than cars!

We were staying at the Bolton Hotel near the Beehive, one of the modern parliament buildings and something of a landmark, but not, in my opinion, a very attractive building. Nearby is the Wellington Cenotaph, a WW1 and WW2 memorial with some fine relief panels. Surprisingly, our visit to Wellington turned out to have a very strong First World War theme!

Wellington Cenotaph, Wellington, New Zealand

Our lovely huge suite was ready for us - the views of the hillside dotted with fine houses were very nice, and we had lots of comfortable space to chill. Right next to the hotel is reputedly the oldest house in Wellington. The Sexton's Cottage was built in 1857 by Charles Mills for the Church of England sexton or verger. It's a timber-framed building with shiplap weatherboarding, ideal in a wet climate, and was extended in 1887.

Aerial roots of the pohutukawa tree, Wellington, New Zealand
Aerial roots of the pohutukawa tree.
The tree is covered in bright red flowers in December, which has earned it the nickname "New Zealand Christmas Tree".
Sexton's Cottage, Wellington, New Zealand
Sexton's Cottage
The original 1857 cottage is the windowed structure.
city view, Wellington, New Zealand
View over the city from the top of the cable car.

 

 

We took the cable car up from Lambton Key late one day after we'd been in the city all day. It was then a very leisurely walk down through the gardens to our hotel.

At the top of the cable car there is an excellent view over the Wellington business district and across the harbour to Hutt Valley, Eastbourne and Mount Victoria.

Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
Masses of multi-coloured hydrangeas.
Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
Agapanthus in a woodland setting.
Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
I believe this is an Agave Chrysantha, a Golden Flowered Century Plant, in the succulent garden.
Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
Two enormous flower spikes from the Agave Chrysantha.
Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
Agave Geminiflora


Botanic Garden, Wellington, New Zealand
I think this is a Pohutukawa, a New Zealand Christmas Tree, but it is only supposed to flower from December to January so maybe not.
Basin Reserve, Wellington, New Zealand
Basin Reserve

In the south of the city is Wellington's cricket ground, Basin Reserve, on what was once a swampy piece of ground created by an earthquake in 1855.3 The first game was played here in 1868, it having taken five years to drain and flatten the ground, and create the cricket ground. The first Test Match wasn't until 1930, played against England and ending in a draw.

One infamous aspect of Wellington we didn't experience - the wind! It is nicknamed "Windy Wellington" for the strong winds that blow through the Cook Strait but there wasn't even a breeze while we were there.

 

Te Papa

Maori war canoe, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Maori war canoe.

The absolute "must see" in Wellington, Te Papa is the "Museum of New Zealand". I was keen to see the Maori section, and Andrew the Gallipoli exhibition. On our first visit the queues for Gallipoli were huge so we went to the Maori halls and left Gallipoli for a quieter time - one of the guides told us late afternoon was a good time to come.

Photography in the Maori section was restricted.

Maori war canoe, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Maori war canoe.
Maori genealogy stick, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Rakau whakapapa (genealogy stick).
Made by Ngai Tuhoe iwi (tribe), New Zealand. Made from wood. Date unknown.
The carved notches correspond to different generations.

 

Even a brief exposure to Maori culture will serve to emphasise their love of - and skill at - carving wood. Carvings are always very emphatic, often featuring fierce and mystical beasts. They could tell stories, revere ancestors, or simply decorate. Almost anything that could be carved would be carved including door posts, lintels and wall panels, masks, canoes, and weapons.

Genealogy is extremely important to the Maori people. They use notched carved wooden genealogy sticks - rakau whakapapa - to help recount the names of important ancestors. Genealogy is particularly important in establishing claims to status and land.

There is a nice interactive musical instrument display so that you can hear the flute, conch etc.

The star exhibit is a magnificent carved meeting house but I most enjoyed the short video telling how the haka was born. A tribal chief, Te Rauparaha escaped enemies by finding sanctuary with another tribal chief with common ancestry. Among the men chasing him were tohunga, who had the power to see beyond the physical. Te Rauparaha hid in a food storage pit guarded by the chief's wife - both food and the power of women negate the supernatural powers of the tohunga. When the danger was past he emerged, defiant, chanting the "Ka mate" "I may die" haka.

Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

 

The Gallipoli - The Scale of our War exhibition was fantastic. On 25th April 1915, British, Australian and New Zealand troops landed on various beaches on the Gallipoli peninsula in an attempt to strike towards Constantinople and force Turkey out of the war. In the face of determined Turkish resistance little ground was gained in a bloody campaign which lasted eight months before the Allies were forced to admit defeat and withdraw from the peninsula.

Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Lieutenant Spencer Westmacott
One of the first onto the beaches of Gallipoli on April 25th, his right arm was smashed by a bullet as he was leading his men up the ridge, he was evacuated that night.

25th of April is now marked as ANZAC day each year.

Larger than life, extremely realistic figures anchor the story of the campaign as it is told through the exhibition.4




Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Lieutenant Colonel Percival Fenwick
One of the first doctors onto the beaches worked tirelessly treating hundreds of casualties in the first 24 hours.

Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
The Maxim gun could fire up to 600 rounds per minute.
Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New ZealandPrivate John (Jack) Dunn
Machine gunner with Lieutenant Colonel Malone's Wellingtons. Sentenced to death for falling asleep at his post and endangering his unit, Jack was reprieved because of his good reputation and illness.
Food was basic, hard tack biscuits, tinned corned beef, and always a myriad flies attempting to share it.

 

 

Gallipoli, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Sergeant Cecil Malthus
Many of those who survived Gallipoli, like Cecil Malthus, then went on to fight in the trenches of the Western Front.

Machine guns provided vital support to infantry. In the battle of Chunuk Bair four regiments of mounted rifles opened the assault, supported by 200 men from the Maori Contingent and the New Zealand Engineers, opening the way for the infantry to come through.

 

During the night attack the Maori warriors' haka rent the air "Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!" " I may die! I may die! I may live! I may live!"

 

 

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand

 

The Pukeahu National War Memorial, officially opened 18 April, 2015, stands high on a hill looking out over the city to the sea. Though the art deco tower has stood here since 1932 as a First World War Memorial, the park was developed for the WW1 centenary to extend the commemorations to other theatres of war. The hill on which the memorial stands was a special place for the local Maori peoples and Pukeahu means "sacred hill".

We came here to visit a special exhibition: The Great War Exhibition created by Sir Peter Jackson (known to most as the director of the Lord of the Rings films). The exhibition commemorated the role of New Zealanders in the First World War.

National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
The Man with the Donkey
Paul Walshe
Memorial to all medics and stretcher bearers.

 

National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand

Before entering we took a look around the striking Australian Memorial, a set of upright red sandstone columns inset with black granite featuring artwork of indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Australian and inscriptions commemorating battles in which the two countries fought alongside each other.

National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Hinerangi
Darcy Nicholas
Memorial to those left grieving by war.
The cloak is covered in symbolic design of home and family, life and death.

 

Peter Jackson's Great War Exhibition is exemplary. With wonderful montages of battlefield scenes, moving photographs and concise explanations, it succeeds in telling the story of New Zealand's war in an accessible but comprehensive way.5 The colouring of the original black and white photographs really seems to make them even more poignant.

Starting with recruitment and working through various wartime scenarios, even children would not be bored in here. We found it to be extremely well done.

Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
The Maori Pioneer Battalion anti-aircraft gunner swings into action. Bayencourt, France, 1918.
Photograph by Henry Armytage Sanders
Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library
Colourisation 2015

Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Private Richard Henderson
New Zealand Medical Corps
Inspired by "Simpson", Dick Henderson also used a donkey to transport wounded men off the battlefield.
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Private John Simpson, Australian Army Medical Corps, and his donkey Murphy.
Courtesy National Army Museum
Colourisation 2015

Finding a wandering donkey Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick used it to carry casualties from the front line back to safety, braving enemy fire and earning tremendous respect among the Anzacs. Others, inspired by "Simpson", did the same, but artist Horace Moore-Jones believed it was Simpson he painted in his series of watercolours. Simpson and Murphy thus inspired the sculpture in front of the museum.

Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand

 

Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand

Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition, National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand
Mark IV British Tank (replica).
Bresolin beers, Wellington, New Zealand
Beers on tap at the Bresolin.

 

 

 

We had a great lunch at the Bresolin on the way back into the city. Two large cold Garage Project beers really hit the spot as it had become a very hot day. Excellent fish and chips and fish cakes with nam jim sauce and a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc. Chocolate slab and chocolate and mint ice cream sundae to finish - perfect!

 

Flying Out

LOTR eagles, Wellington Airport, New Zealand

 

We took a cab to the airport early in the morning. It's a really lovely drive around the bay and there was no traffic to speak of.

 

LOTR eagles, Wellington Airport, New Zealand
LOTR eagles, Wellington Airport, New Zealand

 

As in Auckland airport, there were various Lord of the Rings references, including magnificent models of giant flying eagles - the eagles came to the aid of the Fellowship more than once.

LOTR eagles, Wellington Airport, New Zealand
Flying out, Wellington Airport, New Zealand
The stadium is the Westpac: rugby union, rugby league, football and cricket and many other events are hosted here.

A gorgeous day for flying too!

 

Flying out, Wellington Airport, New Zealand
Flying out, Wellington Airport, New Zealand
Flying out, Wellington Airport, New Zealand

 

Flying out, Wellington Airport, New Zealand

 

References

  1. Wellington Sculptures: Kupe Statue
  2. stuff.co.nz: The "Father of Wellington" honoured by Plimmer Steps
  3. Basin Reserve: The Wellington Basin
  4. Te Papa: Gallipoli - The Scale of our War
  5. Pukeahu National War Memorial Park: Great War Exhibition