The Eye of the Fish

October 28, 2018

The Prince of Pukeahu Park

I’m a little shocked and saddened by some of our citizen’s sad and psychophantic attitudes to the arrival of Mr and Mrs Sussex, reacting as though they were someone really important, or famous: like the Beatles, or Elvis. Maybe its because I’m not a 14 year old girl, but the screaming sound of the crowd when Harry and Megz touched down was almost as loud as the screaming sound inside my head: “Be cool people, be cool!”
We’re a city that takes famousness in our stride – and thoroughly ignores celebrity. Well, at least I am. I’ve lived in the same street as one of the Hobbits, and studiously gave him no more than a surly eyebrow/chin nod when out walking the dog. I’ve been in a line at a petrol station next to Bofur the dwarf, and didn’t so much as sniff his petrol docket. I’ve had dinner on the table next to one of the Conchords, or maybe both – and spoke to them less than I spoke to the waiter. It’s what we do in Wellington – when famous people want privacy, we give them it in spadefuls. There’s nothing that turns a celebrity into a recluse more than hordes of screaming school kids. So, in future, tiny people greeting celebs – be cool.
So I’m going to ignore the presence of the Prince and the Pantsuit, and go straight to the point of the Pukeahu Park – the memorials to those who have died. I was one of those people who was aghast at the original government plans to keep the road running through at ground level – the most stupid of ideas – and I’m glad that the scheme was changed so that the highway now runs in a tunnel underneath.
It has been interesting to see how the Park has been steadily populated by memorials – with the NZ Memorial in pride of place at the centre, Australia’s totems directly opposite being the only two items there at the start. Since then of course it has been joined by the British memorial and it’s odd / ugly Weta-derived tree, next to Paterson’s clever and much quieter French stone sculptures. Down the other end we now have the extraordinary rusting wreath of ferns-in-a-torus that is the Belgian memorial, and soon to be unveiled will be the US memorial. Time for a longer look on 11 November methinks.

29 - 10 - 18

Odd indeed. Your shot of the tree-thing turns it into a headless chook. Probably a fair symbol of the way we followed Britain into both world wars

29 - 10 - 18

You forgot the Turkish memorial…

29 - 10 - 18

Ooops, forgive me please Turkish people. Where is it? I’ve not seen that one yet. Question is – is it as tacky as the British one? Or as sincere and reserved as the NZ one (tomb of the Unknown Warrior) which is about as understated as you can get…

29 - 10 - 18

I want to know what’s going to happen when the LGWM people come back and say they are going to dig the whole thing up again, for the road coming the other way. Have they thought of that yet ?

29 - 10 - 18

The Turkish memorial is small, just to the west of the Aussie one – see

29 - 10 - 18

Meanwhile Greece still suffers the ignominy of having a memorial sandwiched between two main roads including SH1….

Hopefully it can be uplifted in the future and moved to the relative sanctuary of Pukeahu…

29 - 10 - 18

thanks Betterbee – yes of course. I’m hugely proud that we have installed a Turkish monument – after all, the Turks have accommodated thousands of visiting Kiwis and Aussies on their peninsula every year.

greenwelly – aaaah, the Greek question. I hear it keeps having bits of stone nicked off it – not very respectful. Do you really think it should be moved? Can’t really move it up to Pukeahu, as it is quite large… and might take over half the Park…. but it is probably also quite good where it is, in line of sight from the Greek community still resident on Mt Victoria.

Alan – you’re absolutely right – that’d be rather awkward. But is that a good enough reason not to ?

29 - 10 - 18

Hadn’t thought of moving the Greek memorial to Pukeahu – excellent idea (at least in principle), greenwelly!

Are there any other national memorials in Wellington? Can’t think of any…

29 - 10 - 18

Well, there’s also the Ataturk Memorial out on the south coast, over near the harbour entrance, and there is a US memorial at Paekakariki, but there are a number of other countries we should think about – and MCH no doubt has already been drawing up a list:
NZ Land Wars being top of the pile.
We have Britain, France, Australia and soon USA, but what about our other allies?
Poland? The Free Polish Air Force were in the sky over Britain as much or more than the kiwis were…
Czechs and Slovaks ? And other slavs despoiled by Hitler?
India? Indians were also at Gallipoli in large numbers, they are the “untold” story.
Hong Kong? That was a British colony, attacked by Japanese and suffered heavy naval losses.
Russia ? Remember, they were our friends against the Nazis back then – and suffered the worst losses of any country.

And then there is those who were on “the other side” in wars, but arguably should still be represented in a Peace Park:
Korea / Vietnam / Cambodia?
Iraq / Iran / Afghanistan ?

Careful not to tread on any fingers and toes…. its a tricky situation out there. But if, for instance, Angela Merkel arrived here for a visit, she would no doubt visit the War Memorial Park as well. Should she just lay a wreath, or should there be a memorial to those Germans who died – some of which we (kiwis) killed?