Oh what a beautiful morning! Wellington really turned it on for us – especially for Clare’s fifteenth birthday!
As it was Clare’s day, we did things that she wanted to do! First on the agenda – sleeping in! It was almost midday before we made it to Te Papa.
From Wikipedia: Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand, located in Wellington. It is branded and commonly known as Te Papa and Our Place; “Te Papa Tongarewa” is broadly translatable as “the place of treasures of this land”. The museum’s principles incorporate the concepts of unified collections; the narratives of culture and place; the idea of forum; the bicultural partnership between indigenous people (Tangata Whenua) and non-indigenous people (Tangata Tiriti); and an emphasis on diversity and multidisciplinary collaboration. In January 2013 Te Papa management announced the museum would be split into two parts – one operating much as it has in the past, and the other focusing on the future.
If you look really closely at the left hand side of the above photo, you can see some of the base isolators that the museum is built on. Before you even enter the (free) museum, there is a display explaining how the building is as earthquake-proofed as possible. Base isolators are large rubber blocks laminated with steel, and with pure lead columns inside. They were invented by New Zealand scientist Dr William Robinson. This ingenious invention isolates the building from earthquakes and damps much of the shaking. Reducing the severity of shaking helps to protect the people and contents inside Te Papa. Base isolators are now used in buildings around the world in areas subject to seismic activity.
Wellington lies within the earthquake-generating collision zone between two of the Earth’s great tectonic plates, and sits on top of one of the zone’s most active geological faults – the Wellington Fault. The Wellington Fault forms distinctive landscape features running right through the central city. Intensive research has been done to understand the nature of the fault and the best ways to reduce possible earthquake damage and loss. As it happens there had even been a small tremor that morning – the kids were still in bed and didn’t feel it, but those of us who were up certainly did! It’s definitely not something that we Melbourne dwellers are used to.
The waterfront was busy and bustling, and Wellington was definitely living up to its hashtag #youcantbeatwellingtononagoodday. There were plenty of things to see and do – even it was just to sit and people watch! But we headed into Te Papa instead.
This was a particularly impressive museum – and it’s free! There were sections on geology, particularly from the New Zealand perspective. New Zealand is right on the the boundary of the Australian and Pacific plates – which explains the earthquakes and volcanic activity! The active volcanoes are in the northern part of the country. The most destructive event experienced by people in New Zealand was the eruption of Mount Tarawera (near Rotorua) in June 1886, when a seventeen kilometre rift opened up and the contents of the lakes that had been above it were blasted out.
There was also a display instructing how to secure household items to minimise damage in the event of an earthquake. I suddenly realised that the ‘childproof’ locks that I’d had to figure out how to operate in our accommodation were actually not childproof locks at all but were to stop cupboard doors flying open and crockery crashing out in the event of earthquake.
I was also very impressed by the gallery about the vegetation and wildlife of New Zealand. There are three main types of forest – beech forests, kauri forests (now only remnants survive) and rata and rimu forests. The three forests look quite different and support different plan and animal communities. The beech forests have little undergrowth and are easier to move through. They are also easily destroyed by high winds, heavy snowfalls, or landslides.
Te Papa houses the world’s largest specimen of colossal squid. This was quite a coup for the museum, but it was also an extensive logistical exercise as scientists figured out how to best defrost the squid then preserve and display it. My favourite fact about the colossal squid was that the squid can only ingest small mouthfuls, as its narrow throat passes through the middle of its brain, so a bite too big could lead to brain damage!
The contemporary Te Marae is really rather spectacular. From the museum website: The space comprises a marae ātea (place of encounter) and wharenui (meeting house) that cater for all the purposes such places customarily serve. It is also a living exhibition that interprets for visitors the meaning of the marae experience, and acts as a showcase for contemporary Māori art and design. Like other marae, this one is about identity – here, it is our nation’s bicultural identity that is addressed. Te Marae embodies the spirit of bicultural partnership that lies at the heart of the Museum, and is based on the idea that Te Papa is a forum for the nation. All people have a right to stand on this marae through a shared whakapapa (genealogy) and the power of the treasures held in Te Papa’s collections.
There is also a more traditional marae as part of another exhibition.
Up on the sixth floor of Te Papa were excellent views across the harbour. I love the houses tucked in among the greenery of the mountainsides: the white-painted timber almost shines in the sunlight, and matches the shine off the water.
Another exhibition on display was the Gallipoli exhibition. As an Australian, the story of Gallipoli is a familiar one for me. However, it was interesting to follow it from the New Zealand perspective, especially as it was told through the eyes of eight New Zealanders who were part of the battle. It contained huge models made by Weta Workshop that were startling in their realism.
From the Te Papa website: The ground-breaking exhibition tells the story through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Each is captured frozen in a moment of time on a monumental scale – 2.4 times human size. The giant sculptures took a staggering 24,000 hours to create, and countless hours were spent researching their rich histories. Cutting-edge technology was also used to create 3-D maps and projections, miniatures, models, dioramas, and a range of interactive experiences that bring New Zealand’s Gallipoli story to life.
In total, 2,779 Kiwis lost their lives on Gallipoli, and many others were scarred for ever. Gallipoli: The scale of our war takes you to the core of this defining event.
The exhibition was incredibly poignant, and of course, incredibly sad. What a waste of human life.
Meanwhile back at the waterfront there were people diving and jumping from platforms into the water!
We had a very late lunch at Mac’s brewbar on the waterfront. Fish and chips definitely hit the spot for the birthday girl!
But the next thing that the birthday girl wanted was a fresh manicure! Google provided us with details of a nail salon and off we went. Clare and I both had SNS nails done, and Stella had a regular manicure. Dan headed off for a haircut. Grooming for the whole family!
And to finish off we soon found ourselves at the cinema. Family movie time! All four of us thoroughly enjoyed Pitch Perfect 3 (fortunately the ‘M’ rated concepts all went straight over the head of the 10 year old, although the 15 year old definitely understood them). We were all tucked up in bed some time after ten pm. What a satisfying day.