Auckland 2017 – The Fifth Day

After my journey up to the peak of One Tree Hill yesterday where the wind was plentiful and strong, I awoke this morning – early! – but with a definite ‘twinge’ in my sinuses. Knowing what this might be the harbinger of, I decided, spontaneously, that today should be an ‘inside’ day. And by ‘inside’ I don’t mean staying in my flat all day but rather doing things would would allow me to be indoors and out of the elements. As it turned out, my decision was slightly prophetic since it started to rain just after I had finished lunch and hadn’t let up by the time I had retired to bed.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Having made the decision to have an ‘inside’ day, I had to work out what I should do with myself. The easiest option to bring that to fruition was to grab a coffee! And so I availed myself of one of the suggestions of my host for a local cafe within walking distance and, having grabbed my book, sauntered the 750 metres to a delightful little cafe where I lingered over a couple of lattes, a lemon tart, and the book I’m currently reading. At some point during my second latte, I decided that today might be a good day to visit the Auckland Museum, located within the Auckland Domain, that I had glimpsed while out and about on Monday. By the end of my second latte, the decision had been made to visit the museum after lunch.

Returning to my flat, I indulged in a light lunch in preparation for my museum venture and it was while eating lunch that I noticed through the window that the rain had started. And this was not just a light shower that I had seen a few of during the last couple of days. Oh no, this was rain, steady and consistent. I was momentarily tempted to abandon my proposed museum adventure but rallied myself, donned my shoes and sallied forth via my trusty hire care for the 15 minute drive to the Auckland Domain and the Auckland Museum located therein.

Given the rain I was prepared to park in the underground car park (even though it would be a little pricey) but as luck would have it, or divine intervention intended, a (free) on street parking space opened up just 50 metres from the entrance to the museum. It was clearly meant to be and so, preparing to run the gauntlet of the rain for that short distance, I took what was on offer.

Purchasing a ticket, and preparing my camera (photographs being allowed inside the museum), I entered the three story Auckland Museum. The museum, which like other museum features exhibitions of the natural and cultural world in which it sits, also acts as the War Memorial, with one of its entries overlooking the Court of Honour in which is located the Auckland Cenotaph. Wandering through the museum allows a strange coming together of these different streams of Auckland’s (and New Zealand’s) corporate and historical life.

The first floor looks primarily focuses on the cultural background of Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly the Maori and broader Pacific cultures, and also included a special series of ‘stories’ about the Treaty of Waitangi (or Te Tiriti o Waitangi in Maori). The displays in this part of the museum were incredibly beautiful and highlighted for me the sophistication of the Maori people (which is not meant to sound as elitist as it does in writing) and their culture and knowledge. I took many photos in this part of the museum, but as some of them feature patterns and images that the Maori consider to be sacred, I won’t be making them available on this blog or my online photo albums.

The middle floor of the building features displays and exhibitions focussing on the natural history of New Zealand, with displays on the geology (earthquakes and volcanoes), flora and fauna. Again there is attention paid to the Maori understanding of this aspect as well. Again, I found this exploration quite enlightening and fascinating, though less so than what I seen on the ground floor.

The top floor is reserved for the military history of New Zealand and features two Halls of Remembrance – once for World War 1 and another for World War II – as well as other displays concerning the military history of New Zealand, from the Maori Wars to current involvement in United Nations peacekeeping operations. There was also a small room remembering the Shoah or Holocaust of World War II. As I often do when visiting such memorials, I found this room particularly poignant. The most moving sight in the whole third floor, however, was in the World War II Hall of Remembrance where, alongside other marble tablets inscribed with the names of those who died, there is a set of blank marble tablets with a simple inscription along the lines of “Pray that these tablets are never filled.” Amen, amen, amen.

Having spent a delightful few hours wandering the museum, it was time to leave (if only to avoid ‘peak hour’ traffic) but I couldn’t resist a visit to the Museum Gift Shop. It was there that I purchased a gift for myself – a ‘talking stick’ (or rakau korero or tokotoko) to be held by the one who is speaking in a gathering as a sign of authority. Perhaps I might bring it out when I preach…just as a reminder.

The only ‘glitch’ in my whole day was the ‘almost’ fall as I was leaving the museum. I may have already mentioned it was raining? My foot didn’t quite completely grip the last of the four steps I was descending as I was leaving, and started to go from underme. I managed to avoid hitting the ground, and there was a momentary jar in the knee and ankle, but hopefully nothing that will set me back. Stay tuned for updates on that one!

My ‘inside’ day was brought to a completion with a nicely cooked meal, cooked by myself I hasten to add. It was nothing fancy, but it was all the more satisfying because I had prepared it myself.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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