The Great War Exhibition

The Great War Exhibition in Wellington commemorates the role played by New Zealand in the First World War.

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The exhibition is housed in the historic Dominion Museum building above Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. The National Dominion Museum building opened in 1936 and housed the National Museum, the National Art Gallery, and the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. In 1972 the Dominion Museum was renamed the National Museum. The National Museum now known as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is now located on the waterfront.

Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson has created this exhibition, which explores the story of the First World War.

The main exhibition is the Grand Hall, which covers the period from pre-1914 until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Visitors will enter the exhibition via a pre-war Belgium street. After this we meet Will, a soldier and we follow his journey. The exhibition features dioramas, large-scale props, historical photographs, authentic artefacts and replicas, including a 10 tonne tank and a 11 tonne gun.

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The second exhibition is the ANZ Room – Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story in Colour. This exhibition focuses on Gallipoli campaign. A highlight is the collection of black and white photographs, which have been colourised and a one hundred square metre diorama, featuring over 5,000 hand-painted figurines depicting the capture on Chunuk Bair on August 8th 1915.

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There are also temporary exhibitions when I visited there was an exhibition on women’s involvement in war, which has now closed. Other past exhibitions included topics, such as Passchendaele, the Middle-East, and conscientious objectors.

A new sensory experience Quinn’s Post Trench Experience has opened since I visited.

There are 45 minute guided tours of the Grand Hall between 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Guided tours are $25 for adults and children are $5. Otherwise general admission is $15 (children under 16 are free). There separate charges for the Trench Experiences, or a combo ticket option available.

I definitely recommend the guided tour and then going back through the Grand Hall at your leisure. I spent just under three hours exploring the exhibition.

The Great War Exhibition is open daily from 9am to 6pm until November 2018 at Dominion Museum Building in Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is New Zealand’s national place of remembrance located in Wellington.

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Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was created in the grounds of the existing National War Memorial to acknowledge the centenary of the First World War Gallipoli landings. It opened in 2015 ahead of the Anzac Day commemorations.

The National War Memorial was proposed by the Government in 1919. A competition was held in 1929 for the design of War Memorial, which was won by architectural firm Gummer and Ford.

The centrepiece of the War Memorial is a 51 metre high art-deco carillon tower, which was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1932. It was designed as a sister monument to the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Canada. The Carillon features 49 bells, which were made in England. The monument is constructed from New Zealand stone.

Located at the base of the Carillon tower is the Hall of Memories, a commemorative chapel, which opened on 5 April 1964.

In front of the Carillon is the Tomb of Unknown Warrior. In 2004, the remains of an unknown soldier were exhumed from the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery and moved to the National War Memorial. He is one of the more than 1500 New Zealanders killed on the Somme.

At 5pm each night in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is the Last Post ceremony. The ceremony has been conducted every evening since Anzac Day 2015 and will until 11 November 2018.

The park, which opened in 2015, features several memorials to New Zealand’s allies. Opposite the carillon tower is the Australian Memorial, 15 red sandstone columns, gifted by the Australian Government.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is off Buckle Street, in Wellington.

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