On Friday 24 April, a parade was held that ran from Parliament down to the National War Memorial.
For years, the area in front of the War Memorial has been under construction to move the previously known Buckle Street into a tunnel and above it would be situated a memorial park: Pukeahu Park. It was here that several events were held on Anzac Day, including the Dawn Service. All the events had higher turnouts than expected, which goes to show how respected and appreciated the Australian New Zealand Army Corps were and are.
Inside the old museum building, an exhibition has been set up with the help of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop. The first segment feels as though you have walked into a small Belgian village in the 1910s, with realistic cobblestones, grape vines and fake bread in the window of the bakery.
The Scale of Our War
We all gathered in the morning for a minute's silence, which was followed by poetry readings and then tea and cake. Our reception area showcased the forty four men and women who worked at the Ministry at the time of World War One, and it was fascinating to read their stories and relate to their lives.
Many vehicles from the time were driven down the streets with men in uniform staring out. Some were sombre, some were smiling or waving to their loved ones. These vehicles were kindly lent to be used in the parade by Sir Peter Jackson, who is a WWI buff (we got to see him riding at the top of a London bus as it drove along Lambton Quay, which was lucky as it broke down a short time later and he didn't continue for the rest of the parade).
As well as the vehicles, there were groups of uniformed men and women who marched in unison down the streets.
Thousands of thin paper poppies were released, which fell to the street and the robust Wellington wind scattered them around the city.
An abandoned lot's weeds and chain link fence gathered a large collection of the poppies. The sight was stark and somehow poignant.
The National War Memorial
The Australian Memorial is situated in the park, and commemorates the close relationship between our two countries.
World War One Remembered: A Light and Sound ShowBehind the War Memorial is the old museum building, which used to be Massey's design school. It has now been converted back into a museum, and for a week around Anzac Day, a light show was projected onto the front face. Many old photos were shown, as well as animations of smoke, war planes and falling poppies. One that I most enjoyed was this colourful showcase of vintage posters. The show was much more interesting than I thought it would be, and I stood transfixed among the crowd, staring at the moving pictures with the sound of gunfire behind me.
The Great War Exhibition
Moving on from that peaceful sight, you see many soldiers in various states of distress: looking out from a converted bus (another of Jackson's), riding on horses as a plane flies above, and in the trenches.
Also on show were many uniforms that different countries used in the war. Some of the security measures used in the exhibition were a bit frightening, as there was no glass around the uniforms but if you got too close a loud voice told you to stand back, and repeated it until you had done so. The effect was that whenever that voice sounded, everyone leapt back in surprise (so in that sense, it had the desired outcome).
The Scale of Our War
Weta Workshop also teamed up with Te Papa to create the Scale of Our War exhibition. This will be at Te Papa until 2018, so you still have time to see it! Entry is free. When we went the day after Anzac Day, the line trailed so far out the door that queuing would have taken hours. We tried the next weekend and the one after, but the line was still very long. Eventually we asked at the information counter, and the staff member said that late afternoon is the best time to see it. So finally, at 5pm one Sunday evening, we managed to get in.
Rooms filled with information and artefacts are interspersed with rooms that hold huge representations of those who fought in the war. As you can see, these figures are enormous (his arm is larger than I am), and are incredibly detailed.
Each aspect was so realistic, even down to the hairs on the back of the medic's hand and the beads of sweat coming out of his pores.Each of these larger-than-life models were portrayals of real people who were involved at Gallipoli. It was fascinating to read their stories and then see such well crafted representations.
At work on the day before Anzac Day, the Ministry took time to remember those who lost their lives.