The weather forecast was not particularly good for today and as Ben and Kelly were both at work, we walked up to Brooklyn to catch the bus into town and spend time at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. I cannot remember spending so much time, willingly, in a museum; it is brilliant. There are five galleries, although you tend to spend more time in some than others. We spent the whole of the morning exploring ‘Our Unique Environment’, which focused on forces of nature – volcanoes, earthquakes, mountains, the sea, flora and fauna. There were some really awesome exhibits, including the house which gave you an earthquake experience, an inter-active map that produced pictures on the wall as you walked over certain areas and a chance to experience all the thrills New Zealand has to offer while sitting in a chair that reacts to the film images being shown. Through the ‘High Ride’ I have now done a bungee swing, a free fall parachute jump and a whole lot more without getting a scratch, or feeling scared!
Having spent all morning in this section we decided to go to Level Six and work down. The higher the floor the less space there was so we quickly passed through the pottery section on that level and spent a little more time in the art gallery section.
Level Four, Journeys through History, proved a lot more fascinating with a lot of the emphasis on Maori history and culture. Here we saw fabulous examples of Maori carving in their canoes, houses and meeting houses. I cannot pretend to understand the significance of it all but it was fascinating. The crux of the exhibition is the treaty celebrated yesterday, Waitangi and signed in 1840. We were able to compare the two versions, that given to the Maoris, which said that everything that they owned was theirs forever unless they chose to sell it, while the English version claimed that the Maoris had no rights and that the English could take anything they wanted. Hence the anger that is still felt today.
The second part of this level concentrates on the history of New Zealand since the settlers began to arrive and the influence they have had on the building of a nation. There are hotspots in Britain and Europe where many people from particular areas emigrated to New Zealand because they could not see their lives improving back at home. Often if one member of a family emigrated, more would follow in what was called chain emigration. Kelly’s family are a fine example of chain emigration. Hotspots in the UK include Laceby in Lincolnshire where agricultural workers were encouraged at Temperance Hall meetings. Similarly, Grimsby, the home of fish and chips was another hotspot, which in turn introduced fish and chips to New Zealand. There were other hotspots dotted around the UK and Ireland, all of which had some influence on the way New Zealand has developed.
We finished off on this floor by watching a short film entitled ‘Golden Days’, which showed amusing and poignant highlights from the past 100 years of New Zealand history. Remarkably, there was no mention of Ed Hillary.
The final level, Level Three, focused on Shaping the Landscape and how the landscape has changed to cater for a growing and diverse population, how an untouched environment has been transformed into cultivated land. We were also introduced to the influx of non-native species, which have had a negative effect on the indigenous species.
After six hours in the museum we went to the New World supermarket across the road to buy the ingredients for dinner, which we were cooking for Ben and Kelly. All the food was beautifully presented and very little of it was pre-packed and all very fresh.
Dinner went down well and we had an enjoyable evening sitting around the dinner table talking.
The Girlie Perspective
Te Papa (our place in Maori) proved to be NZ history, geography and culture in a nutshell. I felt a bit wobbly and nauseous after the earthquake house experience……I don’t want to think of Ben & Kelly having the threat of that kind of disaster hanging over or under them.
I was intending to visit the V & A exhibition of Wedding Dresses thru the ages but there was so much else to do & see that I was distracted. However, there were some nostalgic fashion items from Vogue NZ in the Sixties, it only needed Audrey Hepburn to be modelling the short dresses and Chanel style suits.