March 2017: War tributes humbling

Helen Perry, Editor

Traditionally, February may be our hottest and most humid month but, really, we have seen only a few truly sweltering days. What’s more, when I made my way to Wellington for Waitangi Weekend, the capital’s windy reputation was certainly evident.

The brisk breeze made relatively warm temperatures seem much cooler but the upside was they also made for perfect walking weather. And I did a fair bit of walking.

Staying at the Novotel (recently refurbished) with man about the house and sister-in-law, we found the central location ideal. Our mission for the weekend was to visit the Great War Exhibition at the Dominion Museum within the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, and also the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa.

While Weta Workshop has had a big hand in both, Sir Peter Jackson’s Great War Exhibition commemorating New Zealand’s role in the First World War enthralled me.
We spent two hours there reading virtually every word of the main section but ran out of time to fully absorb a second area on Gallipoli.

I cannot praise this amazing piece of history enough – it’s a must see and not to be simply glanced at.

While there was plenty to weep over, an injection of humour prevailed too – fascinating to learn about the origins of trench slang which has since become everyday colloquialisms.
On day two we headed for Te Papa where the Gallipoli exhibition impressed no end. Though we arrived early, a queue had already formed and, to some extent, I felt we were bundled through.

Feeling obliged to keep moving, our 90 minutes was nowhere near enough to take it all in. By lunchtime the queue had diminished and this might have been a better time to explore. However, without doubt, both exhibitions deserve a return visit.

The rest of our trip was equally enjoyable including a cable car ride then free shuttle to Zealandia, the amazing native wildlife eco-sanctuary virtually in the heart of the city where many endangered birds have now been established.

What a Kiwi wonder. I suggest visiting when the day is fresh and although there are various trails and tours, the main 45-minute walk is suitable for young and old. Do enjoy a bite to eat on the deck too – the view is outstanding.

Of course, no visit to Wellington can pass without some serious eating out – so many restaurants! We took in a movie at the art deco Embassy Theatre – feet duly rested – then followed up with dinner at Dockside on the waterfront – very yum. Our first night meal at the Novotel was also agreeable with restaurant and bar staff making us feel most welcome.

Yes, Wellington is a lovely city – when the sun shines!

And, it did shine despite the brisk breeze. For those who hadn’t thought of viewing the two war exhibitions I urge you to do so. Both provide deeply moving and sometimes horrific insights into a terrible war which cost New Zealand dearly. To be reminded of the sacrifice made by so many young men is humbling, indeed.

And, for those to whom Wellington is in the future, the thing to do now, is grab a cuppa and enjoy an hour with EastLife!