Sunday, 9 August 2009

National War Memorial (9th August 2009)

Yet another sunny day (though a wee bit chilly) in Wellington City - ahh... :) Went for a swim around 11am, then home for lunch and out again to check out the National War Memorial on Buckle St. I still recall the days living nearby and hearing bell-like tunes coming out from the tower - I've always wondered what hides inside this massive monument.

The National War Memorial commemorates all New Zealanders, both men and women, who were sacrificed in the South African War, the 2 World Wars and the conflicts in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam. Admission is free and you can call in to arrange for a guided tour. As you walk up the stairway either sides towards the main building, you will notice a large black granite tomb with white crosses (to depict the night sky and the warrior's companions who fell in battle) and words of Karanga (a Maori call to summon the warriors home) - this is the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. A casualty of WWI, The Unknown Warrior was one of over 9,000 New Zealanders who died in war and have no known grave. Having been brought back from abroad by the NZ Defense Force in 2004, he now lays in his new home and provides a peaceful place to visitors to pay tribute for the sacrifice made by all New Zealand servicemen and women.

I continued on my little adventure into the Hall of Memories, which features 12 alcoves or mini-chapels, each with its own dedicated plaque of rememberance and flags of the different arm forces served in the wars. 4 other plaque hid within the recesses, commemorating the conflicts in South Africa, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam. It was peacefully quiet in here, with me being the only visitor in the hall at the time. The main focal point of the hall was the sculpture of Mother and Children, an image to remember the sufferings endured by families during times of war.

I was rather disappointed to find out from the curator than the Carillon Tower is not accessible to the public. What a pity! It would have been amazing to see the 74-bell campanile ranging 6 octaves and weighing over 70 tonnes hanging within the tower (the Carillon is the 3rd largest of its kind in the world). The Carillon itself looks like a huge church organ but played by hitting on the clavier (keyboard) with fists. How very interesting! The instrument is often played during noon on weekdays and Sundays (ah-ha, now I know why I used to hear the tunes so often). Photos taken at the memorial: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157621860559739/detail/

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