Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pt 11 - Auckland Museum; Movie; Tamaki Drive; Le Sud with ATC

Tuesday 23 February - Auckland Museum; the movie; Tamaki Drive; le sud with ATC
Ah, wonderful to be back in Auckland. At 9:55am we are pulling up into a convenient parking spot outside the Auckland Museum and War Memorial. We pause to pay respects at the cenotaph staying clear of the construction site which is underway in a redevelopment of the area around the cenotaph. Around the cenotaph in the paving there is a reminder to all that this is sacred ground, tread not upon it without reverence. What a good idea to include this statement this way.

Inside the Museum we make a spur of the moment decision to do the Maori experience which consists of a performance $25 and then a guided tour $10. These run throughout the day but naturally, given the time, we go for the 11 am option.

Before heading into the galleries we have a quick look at the museum shop noticing the wall of illuminated glass.. the glass is nice but best of all there is a table of books… a table of military history books… mmmm tempting.... but oh so heavy. Lucky we have a good 15kgs we can allocate to souvenirs!

With time of the essence I tear myself away from the books and make a b line for the second floor. This is where the War Memorial and military sections are located. The first thing that draws attention is a large and beautiful memorial to those killed in the World War 1. The names of the fallen carved in panels around the room. F E Flower; W Hohepa; so many Ryans.

Nearby there is a small room that tells the story of the memorial and that explains the symbolism used in the designs. What a great thing to include even though space is precious. The flags shown are those of all the signatories of the Treaty of Versailles.

Across the way there is a small but moving gallery dedicated to the Holocaust. There are panels that give a brief summary of the stories of survivors of the Holocaust that migrated to New Zealand. Above these small panels is a mosaic of photographs and on the opposite wall a brief run down of the steady procession of persecution and then genocide perpetrated by the Nazis.

I step into another area to find a whole street of fascinating recreations. An oyster bar, a tavern.. it’s the same sort of style of presentation as we have seen at Dargaville and Matakohe. It’s simply brilliant. Experiential. Wonderful for kids to really get a feel for the history. Indeed there are kids in here zipping around in and out of the various shop fronts and looking like they are really enjoying themselves.

Moving on I arrive at a fairly plain room with a high walkway where you can view a Japanese Zero. Fabulous. Alongside is a display about the last pilot of this particular plane and another display donated by a Japanese veteran. His uniform, sword and band with embroidered tiger. What a fascinating set of exhibits. Hubby tells me that there was also a spitfire in another gallery… but I didn’t get that far.

I only have time for the briefest of looks through galleries on the New Zealand wars, Boer War and reconstructions of WWI trenches and so forth. It’s all fabulously done.

Exploring further I find the beautiful World War II memorial. I love the use of the stained glass in the memorials. Panels in the same gallery list the fallen from Korea, Malaya/Borneo, and Vietnam. It's a beautiful space.

There is also a plaque from a memorial to US Fallen from somewhere in the Pacific theatre.. but there is no explanation of how it came to be here in the Auckland War Memorial, which is frustrating. There are some memorials in Canberra Australia along Anzac Ave that were relocated from their original positions nearer battle sites overseas but they are memorials to the Australian dead. They have of course been relocated when the political situation in the country made relocation necessary or sensible. How this memorial to the US fallen came to be here in New Zealand is a mystery though.
With so much to see I hate having to head downstairs and almost regret having said we’d see another cultural show.

As we arrive downstairs they are blowing the conch shell and the warriors are issuing a challenge to those assembled for the show. We have the protocols explained. Please take as many photos and videos as you like. Our warriors love cameras. This meeting area is spectacular. The carved buildings and artifacts, it’s really marvelous. We head into the performance area and are fortunate to get a seat in the front row.

The show is wonderful. I am so glad we decided to see it. They explain a great deal about the meaning of things. More than the other shows We’ve seen so far. The performers are of a high calibre. This is particularly evident in the stick game demonstrations, but everything is so beautifully done. The Maori cultural performances are so cool. I see no issue with seeing multiple shows. They are fun to watch and beautiful to listen to. This show concludes with a traditional chant. Apparently most of the stuff you see with guitar accompaniment is not the pre-european style of performance, so it is great to see the original form. There is also a haka, but it also is not the wording that is so often performed, which is simply the most famous haka.

Immediately following the show the performers pose for photos with people and then we assemble for the guided tour of the hall. We don maori style cloaks and start with an introduction to the ancestors whose portraits by Goldie are displayed along a wall. They are magnificent portraits no question. The Goldie collection of portraits are all housed here. There’s another famous Maori portrait painter (name escapes me) and his portraits are in the Auckland Art Gallery. We get a run down on moko, how they were done and what they mean. It is all completely fascinating.

Next we move across to a fabulously carved store house which was from the Rotorua area. Each store house such as this has it’s own name. I am sorry I can’t remember the name of this one. Some of the carvings are explained and some of the significance and protocols about accessing such places were explained. Then we head over to the waka. The waka was actually one used during the New Zealand wars. Carved from one enormous tree. The symbolism of the carving is explained and we begin to run out of time. The next show is about to start and our guide needs to be off. We have time for an introduction to the carved meeting house of our guide’s forebears. We are introduced to the carving of our guide’s ancestor and encouraged to head on in (in bare feet as protocol requires) to say hello. This house was abandoned for 50 years before being given to the museum to preserve. Across the hall our guide’s grandfather and grandmother have busts. The grandfather is there to look after the tribal house.. our guide is there to look after both the house and her grandfather. Finally the tour concludes with us being invited across to cleanse and show the ancestors that they need to stay here when we leave. Though quite brief the whole tour has been so worth the $10. Just fascinating. Do it.

I really want to head back to the second floor.. but it’s after 12pm and there’s somewhere I want to be at 1pm. We decide we had best head to the museum cafĂ© and grab some lunch. We sample a range of things and find everything very good. I wouldn’t hesitate to eat there again. Quite reasonable value considering location, price and quality and it’s a nice ambience there in the atrium also.

Lunch gobbled and our parking time limit nearly up but before we leave I head back and pick up a few books.Especially since I didn't get to explore the material upstairs as much as I would have liked. NZ SAS the first 50 years by Ron Crosby – I have no idea what the NZ SAS specialize in or what their origins are, so that will be interesting. All the various special forces around the place are different and have their own particular take on what they figure will be useful to their own nation. .. The Aussie SAS specializes in deep penetration and intelligence gathering, though with the capacity for undertaking offensives also of course.

Another acquisition – Anzacs at the frontiers 1941-1945 Volume 1 Northern Italy by Ken Fenton focuses on Anzac POWs in Italy WW2. .. and the final choice is a kiwi perspective of some blood bath battles of WW1. Titled Dark Journey: Three Key New Zealand Battles of the Western Front by Glyn Harper. The great fat book on the Maori Battalion looks interesting too, and surprisingly it’s also only about $50, but woah is it heavy ..oh well, I’ll leave that for now.. I still have the Army Museum near Taupo to go yet and I’m expecting a lot of stuff there about the Maori Battalion.

We head for a parking station as close as we can get to the Academy cinema. That's right. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is still playing. Hubby parks while I go get the tickets. We are in luck it’s two for the price of one on Tuesdays (just as well given what we’ve paid to park). We settle in for a movie treat. This is a movie of the first book in an absolutely brilliant trilogy. Fantastic books. They really deserve the best seller status they have achieved world wide. The Swedes have done a brilliant job of bringing the story to the screen. We have to see the Swedish version, because although it is rumoured that Hollywood are making a movie of this book, I am just so sure they will muck about with the story or not be explicit enough in some events… or decide some big name should play the characters.. I’m so glad to have seen it. I can’t wait for the sequels..

On our way to the car we join the queue at the Korean Pancake joint we noticed last time we were up this way. We choose a red bean and a sweet pancake which is the tradition way the Koreans eat this, that they call ho dduk. A newspaper article in the window says they sell between 250 and 400 of these things a day. No wonder! they are cheap as. The savoury versions are popular while we wait. Cheese and chicken, cheese and vege. A bargain basement and filling meal option only a couple of dollars each.

We pay our extortionate parking fee ($26 or thereabouts) and head up to check out where the Maidment Theatre is. Hmm. No convenient parking really. I don’t fancy walking up that hill from either of the two parking stations on the opposite side of the park.

While we’re out and about we decide to take a drive out along Tamaki Drive through Mission Bay and on along the beaches. We see the Stone House restaurant, I was considering having a meal there. It is in a great spot. This drive gives us quite a different take on Auckland. We figure this must be the equivalent of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Here where access to a lovely golden sand beach is so easy I bet real estate prices are high. Some pohutukawa is flowering along the avenue. A deep dark red. Different to the brighter colour of the southern rata. Is this the colour generally or are the flowers on this one aging I wonder.

Just time for a brief rest, then we decide a taxi will be the most convenient and fastest way to get to the Maidment Theatre for Auckland Theatre Company’s production of Le Sud. The cab arrives very quickly to Quay West and $8.60 later we are alighting and walking down the side road a little way to enter the theatre and collect our tix from the box office. A program is an inexpensive addition and good value with lots of relevant background information to help us understand what's going on. I figure the program will be more than usually necessary and I’m expecting to have some of the jokes skim right over our heads given that this play is locally written political satire. The audience seems to be enthusiastically patronizing the bar. Almost no one isn’t holding a glass of wine or something and it's quite a crush getting through.

The Maidment is a fairly small theatre, but does have both stalls and dress circle. The show starts off with a lot of dialogue in French… possibly not terribly correct French but we struggle to catch much of the references in this bit… our French language skills are pretty much non-existant. What we do catch is funny though. The show becomes increasingly accessible as it goes on. I am glad to have done some research before arrival and glad that we have already been in the country a bit before trying to do this show justice. I won’t say more about the clever jokes… except to say that I now understand the real reason there is a discussion of the possible renaming of New Zealand officially to Aotearoa… it’s so kiwis march out before the Aussies at the Olympics.. LOL.

The show, having commenced at 6:30 pm, finished at 9pm. It’s an easy walk across the park where the lantern festival is in the midst of being set up. It looks like quite a festival. Reminds me of Hyde Park in Sydney when the Festival of Sydney is on. We head on back into the main part of the city and on to Quay West. It’s been an easy 15 min walk back with no rushing at all.
Its been another awesome day.. still loving Auckland. What a shame we need to move on tomorrow..

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