Foggy, drizzly day to start with in Wellington – around 15 degrees.
Whilst Jean was having her hair done, I set off on a walk to establish exactly where we had to drop the car off tomorrow before we take the Interislander ferry to South Island tomorrow morning, and get the answers to a few questions about baggage allowances and boring stuff like that. Absolutely ghastly walk alongside the Wellington dock area – really industrial – but I was struck by the huge number of logs waiting to be loaded onto overseas freighters. Apparently, logging is a huge export generator for New Zealand.
Anyway, questions answered, so set off back to the hotel. After a coffee, Jean and I walked along the waterfront to the Te Papa museum, it being a museumy sort of day. Impressive building, and entrance was free. Result.
We’d heard quite a number of positive comments about the Gallipoli exhibition here, so this was our first checkout. In its way, truly superb, if not, of course, exactly uplifting. All about the major part that Australia and New Zealand troops played in this dreadful, long, deadly, totally futile, bloody, disastrous, failed First World War campaign. Brilliantly documented and very detailed with some really huge, dramatic, dioramas to bring home the various personal stories that were being told.
That was Level 2 of the museum. Needed a coffee after that. Nothing stronger available, unfortunately…..
Then up to Level 3. Much about the Maori heritage and their belief system. What struck me forcibly was the fact that the Maoris have been in New Zealand for around “only” 1,000 years or so, having sailed from Polynesia. Compare that with the 70,000 years that the Aborigines have had their civilisation in Australia. Then compare how both indigenous populations have defended their culture. The Aborigines hardly at all, the Maoris very fiercely. Very, very different.
I was beginning to get a bit museumed out by now, but we managed to get up to Level 4. This also proved to be very interesting, as it included a big section about the Waitangi Treaty, which is the founding document for modern New Zealand. More info at https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/treaty-of-waitangi. To me, fascinating stuff. If formed the basis of a truce between the British and the Maoris, but because of the different interpretations and languages of the various copies of the treaty, much misunderstanding, resentment and conflict ensued. Not for the first time, the British did not cover themselves with glory, and an official apology was issued by the British Government to the Maori council in 2011 for repeated breaches of the treaty. Sobering again. Much, much else besides, but far too much to go into detail here.
Rather more uplifting were stories of various immigrants to New Zealand, who were fleeing poverty/persecution/privations of all sorts to a new world. Again, really well done, and some very interactive displays. I commend this particular gem:
We\’d spent a good four hours in this wonderful place, but we were both properly museumed out by now and really needed some fresh air, so up we went to the 6th floor to take some pictures of Wellington from on high. Our rather jaundiced view of the city yesterday was moderated somewhat, particularly as the sun was now out:
Walked back to the hotel via the waterfront for more pic opportunities, particularly of a bloody great church up on a hill which we hadn’t seen before. No, we know nothing about it.
Well, that’s it for Wellington. Not the most impressive place we’ve been by many a street, but certainly one of the most impressive museums we’ve been in. No time to go up the cable car as originally planned, but we are now looking forward to our South Island experience. Starting tomorrow.
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