Sunday, August 17, 2014
City Scapes and history trails.
World War one has weirdly been on my mind recently. I have taken a trip to see a rather brilliant play about New Zealand's role in WWI (An Awfully Big Adventure) with the year 10s at school and have found myself having to teach a brief section on the topic.
My Great Grandfather's fought in WWI and having lived in Belgium for a brief period I have visited some of the haunting historical sites involved. However my knowledge on New Zealand's involvement was limited. My adopted country suffered significant losses as many countries did. However it's remoteness and willingness to get involved and support the mother country makes the sacrifices of the families involved even more poignant.
At the time the population of New Zealand was around 1 million. One hundred and twenty thousand New Zealanders enlisted and 18'500 were killed. Over 2700 died in the tragic and ill-fated fight at Gallipoli.
I discovered this weekend that New Zealand actually made preparations and plans in case the country was ever invaded. Walking in Mirimar we came across gun posts and monitoring stations set up during the first and second world wars to protect and monitor Wellington Harbour.
The remains of these gun emplacements still stand on the headland and stare out across the Cook Strait keeping a watchful eye out for enemy boats and submarines. We found them a particularly good spot for a picnic.
The site also contains the remains of an important Maori Pa. It was used (in a similar fashion to the World War buildings) as a way to guard the entrance to the harbour from enemies.
You can see why the location has been repeatedly used as an observation and defensive post. It has unbeaten views across the harbour entrance and out to the Cook Strait.
We were also rather impressed with the outline of the Waka built into a memorial at the site.
I can see why Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fame) chooses to live in this area. It is stunningly beautiful and only a few minutes drive from the centre of Wellington.