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Wellington Napier

9th February 2012

A Day of Culture in the Te Papa Museum

One of Endeavour's Cannon
Thrown Overboard When the Ship was Grounded on the Barrier Reef in 1770
    Today was destined to be an extreme culture day. I travelled to the city by bus, accompanied by a couple from Nottingham who were looking for something to do on their third day in the city. They planned to go on the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. I told them about my trip up there, the wooden buildings in Thordon village, and the drop down to Old St Pauls and the Parliament Buildings. It gave them a few ideas. It was touching to observe folks thanking the driver as they alighted on the route, including the youngsters.
Travelling Weka
    No visit to Wellington would be complete without an exploration of the ground-breaking, interactive Museum of New Zealand, universally known as Te Papa Tongareura (Treasurebox), or simply as Te Papa. This landmark on Wellington's waterfront is colossal, and provides brilliant accounts of New Zealand's bicultural heritage, environment and natural history. High-tech simulations exist to semi-experience earthquakes and volcanoes. Several days would be required to do the centre justice, but sadly I could only spare one day.
Te Papa's Marae
    The treasures and stories of New Zealand's land and people were represented with creativity, thought and passion. Te Papa offered a unique bicultural experience, Pakeha and Maori, something you don't find in many other museums.
John Britten Motorcycle
The Fastest 1000cc Bike in the World
    One section was devoted to the powerful geological forces that shaped the country's dramatic landscape. Just to get a feel of an earthquake, a mock homestead had been setup to simulate the movements experienced during a quake; probably a low Richter scale reading I thought.
    Spectacular portrayals of the amazing varieties of New Zealand's animal and plant life were exhibited, including how the landscape and wildlife had changed over the last few centuries.
    The story of the Maori was sensitively told through a powerful mix of taonga "cultural treasures", oral history, and contemporary works. An impressive Te Papa's contemporary marae was also included.
    An area was devoted to compelling stories of the immigrants to this country. These covered immigrants of all nationalities. Included was the moving account of thousands of Polish children sent by the Russians to Siberia during the war. Nearly all were orphaned. The Russians released those still alive after two years, and these poor kids found their way to Tehran by rail, road and on foot. Those still remaining were then transported to New Zealand for a new life.
Cow Made Out of Corned Beef Cans
    A curious exhibit featured a large junk shop on a stage, which came alive with a 12 minute interactive presentation. A cinema screen presented poignant highlights of the last 100 years of New Zealand's history, with relevant pieces of the junk suddenly coming to life with a spotlight on them.
    The museum also included an art gallery on an upper level, which kept me amused for a while, though I only recognised a few of the artists.
    Eventually I became totally saturated, and decided to leave before I went into overload. The time had flown by and I had spent seven hours in the museum; fortunately it stayed open until 9pm on Thursdays.
    I had time left to wander up Cuba Street in the evening, always a lively street whereas the main shopping streets seemed to go into hibernation mode after working hours. I grabbed a mediocre pizza, and returned to the same bar I visited the previous evening to watch some more rugby. Tonight it featured a couple of Japanese teams playing on what appeared to be compressed mud. I commented to the bar man that I was not aware that rugby was a recognised sport out there. "It is big money out there, and they are even offering scholarships now to attract more into the game," he replied. Crumbs, where has Britain gone wrong?

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Wellington Napier

Uploaded from Top10 Campsite, Napier on 10th February at 16:55

Last updated 10.2.2012