Tag Archives: To Do in Wellington

USA Embassy & Jack Rogo – Pearl Harbour

The American Embassy invite you to hear Jack Rogo speak at the Great War Exhibition on June 5th, from 6-7pm.

On the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jack Rogo, a 19 year old Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class, working in the Aviation Supply Department, was having breakfast in the mess. The building convulsed. Jack and his colleagues did not pay attention as the rumor was that the armory was on maneuvers, but some of the explosions were very loud, and they just couldn’t comprehend what was going on. After breakfast, he went onto the lanai to see what was happening and could not believe his eyes. There was no way to fight back. The ships were sinking and turning over.

Men were swimming to shore, if they could, and the dead and badly wounded were floating on the water. Jack volunteered to go out to pick up those wounded who could not make it to shore.

Everything was in such disarray that they shot down some of their own planes that evening. Engineers were needed to plan the uprighting of the sunken ships. Ford Island never became normal again.

Now 97, Jack is a celebrity in Los Angeles and visits local schools to recount the December 7, 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor and the other four years he and his fellow heroes served in the Pacific during World War II. Jack is a character and lives life to the fullest – he sky dived for the first time at 88 and had a Pearl Harbor tattoo he designed, etched on his arm when he was 96. He has an endearing and contagious nature and is an inspiration to everyone he meets.

Admission to this event is free.

Jack Rogo USA Embassy talk at Great War Exhibition

Anne Frank Let Me Be Myself is Open

Anne Frank – Let Me Be Myself, the life story of Anne Frank, opened last night and will be showing until  July 2018. Run by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, this new exhibition and its accompanying educational programme aims to inform young people about Anne Frank and the Holocaust, and challenge them to explore subjects like identity, prejudice and discrimination.

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance and prejudice in action,” said Wellington Mayor, Justin Lester, who officially opened the exhibition.

“No one in 1933 could have predicted the horror their country would experience. No one can predict the impact of fringe voices in society. It’s my job and your job, our job, to give nothing to racism. We must stand up to intolerance every time we see it.”

Mayor Justin Lester open Anne Frank Let Me Be Myself
Left to right: His Excellency, Dutch Ambassador, Robert Zaagman; His Worship Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester; Chair, Anne Frank NZ, Boyd Klap; Chair, Holocaust Centre NZ, Jeremy Smith; His Excellency, German Ambassador, Gerhard Thiedemann; Director of Education, Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, Chris Harris.

Lester went on to praise the people of Wellington for their incredible tolerance and understanding, particularly of new migrants. But he emphasised that the positive reinforcement of this attitude must continue down the generations.

“This exhibition will illuminate, insight, and teach us to never forget and to learn from the horrors we have seen.”

Peer guides from Fiedling High School giving a tour to Mayor Justin Lester and other guests. Peers will guide school groups through the exhibition, helping youth understand the effects of discrimination.
Solveig Ramsay, from Tawa College, shows Dutch Ambassador, Rob Zaagman, a ‘Jood’ badge similar to the one Anne and her family would have be forced to wear.

The Anne Frank House launched this exhibition as the successor of the acclaimed exhibition, Anne Frank – a History for Today, which has been shown in 90 countries since 1995. The worldwide launch of Let Me Be Myself was in Canberra, Australia, in February 2015.

Anne Frank – Let Me Be Myself will run at the Dominion Museum Building, 15 Buckle Street, Wellington, between May 24th and July 22nd 2018.  The exhibition has no admission charge and is open to the public from 9am – 6pm daily. For more information, click here. To book a school group, please contact education@holocaustcentre.org.nz

Opening – Sir Peter Jackson’s Quinn’s Post Trench Experience

The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience officially opened in mid April and we’ve been swept off our feet with visitors keen to experience the sights, sounds and noises of the trenches in Gallipoli (courtesy of Sir Peter Jackson and his creative team at WingNut).

Now that we have a moment to catch our breath, we’d like to share some of our photos and media coverage of The Trench.

The Hon. Grant Robertosn, Peter Parussini (ANZ), Turkish Ambassador His Excellency Ahmet Ergin, The Hon. Ron Mark, Trustee Lt. Gen. (ret) Rhys Jones and Sir Peter Jackson in front of the exit from The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience.


Governor General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy with Sir Peter Jackson
Chairperson of the National Military Heritage Trust, Dame Fran Wilde, with The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy and Trustee Richard Austin.
His Worship Mayor Justin Lester with General Manager of The Great War Exhibition, Dave Clearwater.
Inside The Trench with actors Jed Brophy and Mark Hadlow, who sometimes undertook 21-hour shoots to capture the footage for The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience. The ‘ghost’ of Lt. Colonel Malone is commanding his troops in the background.
Mark and Jed explore The Trench.
Mark Mitchell of the New Zealand Herald captures footage in the close confines of The Trench.

News links are available here

Actors Jed Brophy and Darren Young join actor and photographer Dean O’Gorman, who has staged realistic new photographs of Passchendaele for his new exhibition Passchendaele – The Elusive Familiarity of War. This exhibition was installed on the day The Trench opened. For more info see this page.

Open 6:30am on ANZAC Day in Wellington

This ANZAC Day in Wellington, The Great War Exhibition will open at 6:30 a.m. to welcome visitors who have attended the 6 a.m. memorial service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, next door.

A full list of ANZAC memorial services is available at The Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Wellington City Council.  After attending memorial services for our ANZAC troops, visitors are welcome to explore The Great War Exhibition at their leisure.

We have a variety of attractions with the Exhibition, including:

We welcome you to explore an important part of New Zealand’s history.


Driving First World War Ambulances

Deborah Pitts Taylor was ahead of her time. A woman who believed in female empowerment, she drove First World War ambulances in Brockenhurst, England, transporting convoys of wounded ANZAC soldiers to the hospital.

Her granddaughter Dr. Janet Frater and great-granddaughter Deborah Rose, (named after Deborah Pitts Taylor) recently visited The Great War Exhibition to see Women’s War, which highlights Deborah’s contribution to the war.

Janet lived with Deborah as a child, and says that Deborah’s determination to help in the war and do a “man’s job” has empowered her female ancestors. Janet grew up knowing women could do anything, and went on to study medicine at a time when she was one of only 12 women in her class of 60.

The New Zealand Herald interviewed Janet about her Deborah’s contribution to the First Word War, her influence on their family, and the ties they still nurture with the village of Brockenhurst. Please read their article here.

First World War ambulance
Deborah, who drove first world war ambulances, in Brockenhurst during the First World War. (Image courtesy of Auckland War Memorial Museum).

For more information about Women’s War, which closes in mid May, click here.

This stained glass window in St Nicholas church in Brockenhurst depicts the strong ties the Brockenhusrt community formed with New Zealand soldiers.

Women’s War on TVNZ, Stuff & Radio NZ

Women’s War, our latest touring exhibition, opened last Friday and the response from national media has been positive.

Television New Zealand summarises the content of the exhibition:

“The Great War exhibition features clothing worn by the women of the era and is accompanied by short videos accounting their experiences using excerpts from their letters and diaries.”

The use of a dynamic audio-visual show brings these excerpts of diaries and letters to life.


Radio New Zealand explains the various roles covered by the exhibition:

“Women’s War gives voice to their experiences, utilising cutting-edge audio-visual technology and recreations of outfits that were worn by six types of women-patriotic, supportive family, nurses, entertainers, independent workers and pioneers.

“Fiona Baverstock, an Australian private collector of textiles and vintage clothing, who created the costumes, said women brought “a can-do” practicality to the war effort and fashion.”

The Dominion Post reports:

“Kiwi women rallied to face the challenges left by the absence of men but they were also alongside the troops, driving ambulances and tending to the wounded – experiencing the ghastly reality of war in a different way.”

View the Television New Zealand video clip here, read what Radio New Zealand reported here and read the Dominion Post Stuff article here.

Women’s War runs until 19 May 2018. For more information, click here.

Dr Gusky – The Human Connection – Messages to the Future from WW1

The American Embassy are hosting an a talk by Dr. Jeff Gusky, open to the public, on Wednesday February 28th at 6pm at The Great War Exhibition.

In 2014, National Geographic Photographer, Emergency Physician & Explorer, Dr. Jeff Gusky made a startling discovery. The underground site with the most WWI soldiers inscriptions anywhere on the Western Front was filled with century-old, handwritten messages by ANZAC soldiers. ANZAC forces hold the record as most prolific, having written more graffiti than any other army of WWI.

The most prolific American WWI unit was New England’s Yankee Division, which included Native American heroes who volunteered to fight though they would not be offered citizenship until years after WWI.  They left behind emotional carvings reflecting their ancient tribal traditions in underground cities in Picardy, not knowing that other native peoples like the New Zealand Maori were also contributing to the war effort and leaving their mark underground 100 miles north in Arras.

Thousands of WWI soldiers lived in hundreds of underground cities throughout The Great War.  The vastness of this network of WWI underground cities is still largely unknown.  Now in total darkness, these are time capsules which form a direct human connection between then and now.  The passage of hundred years seems like only a day. Once illuminated by electric lights, the walls of these underground cities contain beautiful works of art carved by soldiers who reconstituted a human world underground as the world’s first modern mass destruction raged on the surface.

Dr. Gusky’s presentation will take the audience on an emotional journey to experience The Hidden World of World War I.  He invites you to help him gain a deeper understanding of those who travelled to France ‘From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth’.

Admission to the talk is free of charge.

Women’s War – Opening this Week

Our exciting new exhibition, Women’s War, is opening this Friday, 23 February.

Catch a glimpse into the lives of six different types of New Zealand women who were active in the First World War—patriotic, supportive family, nurses, entertainers, independent workers and pioneers. Hear their voices come to life in a captivating audio-visual show. See examples of the clothing they used to wear. Experience the First World War from a woman’s perspective.

While men suffered ghastly atrocities on the battlefields, the women of New Zealand also faced the realities of war. Everyone was called upon to support the war effort—girls gave up their educations to tend to family farms, while other women volunteered by knitting socks for soldiers. Nurses fought to travel to the front lines to tend the sick and wounded, while others challenged the status-quo by pioneering campaigns on issues like venereal disease.

Please click here for more information about this fresh and compelling view of the Great War.

German Tapestry by Stephan Schenk on Display

 Flandern aus dem Zyklus Kreuzweg von Stephan Schenk. Geschenk von der deutschen Bundesregierung.

Flanders from the Kreuzweg Cycle by Stephan Schenk. A gift from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The German government have donated a memorial tapestry to the New Zealand government as their nation’s contribution to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. This artwork is now displayed in the foyer of The Great War Exhibition.

The gift of the tapestry is significant  — a symbol of reconciliation following the two world wars and represents the changed nature of the relationship between New Zealand and Germany encompassing trade, education and culture.

German WW1 Memorial
President of the Federal Republic of Germany His Excellency Dr Steinmeier laying a wreath alongside his wife Ms Elke Büdenbender and the Minister of Defence Ron Mark

In November 2017, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a State visit to New Zealand and unveiled a memorial tapestry gifted to New Zealand on behalf of the people of Germany.

The tapestry, titled Flandern (Flanders), is part of the Kreuzweg (Crossroads) series, based on photographs of fourteen First World War battlefield sites in northern France, Belgium, East Prussia, Galicia, Turkey and Slovenia, as well as Tsingtau (China) and Tanga (Tanzania). These tapestries were created to remember the victims of the “primal catastrophe of the 20th century”.

“[This work is] a reminder of the untold misery and horror and was created to remember the victims of this inconceivable catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

— Stephan Schenk, artist.

German Tapestry at Great War Exhibition
His Excellency Gerhard Thiedermann, Ambassador (right), and staff of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with Flandern, by Stephan Schenk

Conscious of the difficulty in representing the senseless deaths of millions of people, the pictures display a very small part of the earth’s surface, with soil, plants and stones or the rippling surface of the sea. Each tapestry is the size of one grave site.

These few square metres, once soaked with the blood of thousands of soldiers, also provide a focus for remembering single, individual destinies.

Flandern, a German memorial tapestry housed at The Great War Exhibition

Detailed image of a small section of Flandern by Stephan Schenk

“The woven work shows closely observed details of the natural terrain: leaves twigs, earth, grass, water. Nothing here betrays that we are seeing something extraordinary or spectacular.”

Conscious of the difficulty in representing the senseless deaths of millions of people, the pictures display a very small part of the earth’s surface, with soil, plants and stones or the rippling surface of the sea. Each tapestry is the size of one grave site.

Kreuzweg is based on a fundamental conundrum: How to represent the madness of war and visualize its inconceivability. The work has been created to make that which is neither seen, nor visible, emotionally present.

Stephan Schenk mostly works on long-term photography projects. He often travels to places in different countries in order to examine certain aspects in a conceptual way. These ‘Crossroads’ works have been on view at the Fotostiftung Schweiz in Winterthur, Switzerland, and Galerie m Bochum in 2014, at the Dommuseum Hildesheim in 2015 and at the Mauermahnmal in Berlin in 2016.

View the 14 works from the Kreuzweg (Crossroads) series here. Flandern will be on display for the tenure of The Great War Exhibition.

1000th Last Post Ceremony Today

1000th Last Post Ceremony Tonight

Our neighbours at the Pukeahu National War Memorial, will hold the 1000th Last Post ceremony today, at 5pm, Thursday 18 January 2018. To mark this occasion, the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating and Minister of Defence Hon Ron Mark will read the Odes of Remembrance.

The stories of five servicemen  — Rifleman Horatio Beechey, Private Ernest Cook, Private Ernest Sharman, Captain Charles Ward and Rifleman Harold Winwood — who died on this day 100 years ago, will also be read.

Many dignitaries will be attending, including:

  • Hon Grant Roberston, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage
  • Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence
  • David Ledson, Chair, National War Memorial Advisory Council
  • Jack Steer, Chief Executive, Returned and Services Association
  • Paul James, Chief Executive, Manatu Taonga
  • Brodie Stubbs, Manager, Memorials & Taonga
  • Paul Riley, Curator, National War Memorial

Last Post ceremonies are held each evening in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The public are usually invited to participate in the Last Post ceremony by reading the Ode of Remembrance or playing the bugle. The service includes lowering the two New Zealand flags, playing the Last Post, the observation of one minute’s silence and the Ode of Remembrance in Māori and English.

Manatū Taonga and WW100′ s full media release is available here.  Stuff also features an article about this occasion.