25 April 2014

Anzac Day 2014

For those who live outside New Zealand and Australia, 25 April is Anzac Day, the day we remember and honour all those who have served in our armed forces, in particular those brave men and women who lost their lives in the service of their country. 

I have memories of cold, often rainy days from my childhood and teenage years, when I joined my parents to watch the Dawn Service, and, when I was a Girl Guide, we joined the march with soldiers, old and young, to the local cenotaph to join in the commemorations. At both primary and high schools, we always had a memorial service and I remember, as head prefect, having to recite to a full assembly those poignant words from the Ode of Remembrance:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

In 2008, I was privileged to attend the Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli, in Turkey – you can read more about that in an earlier blog

This year, for the first time, I attended the Anzac Day service at Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland Domain. As expected, it was a very moving event but what struck me in particular was the setting, in front of what must surely be New Zealand's biggest war memorial.

This War Memorial Museum, opened in November 1929, is a living, functioning memorial to all the men and women from the greater Auckland region who have lost their lives in a military conflict. According to an article in the New Zealand Herald of 11 October 1920, the building’s purpose was to ‘preserve relics of the conflict … establish a permanent record of effort and achievement by the Dominion’s youth … treasure the memories of fallen soldiers, and … preserve for future generations the inspiration of the war’s heroism and self-sacrifice.’

The design of the Museum Cenotaph is a direct replica of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, in London.

A local firm of architects, Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, designed the Museum with a fa├žade of Doric columns that resemble the Parthenon in Athens, and a small hillock was removed from in front of the building, so the Museum could be seen from the sea, just like the temples the returning servicemen had seen on the shores of the Mediterranean countries where they had been fighting.

Stained glass ceiling above main foyer, depicting the Coat of Arms of all British Dominions & Colonies during the First World War (Gibraltar, Kenya, South Africa, New Foundland, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, India, Ceylon, Malaya and the Straits Settlements, the Channel Islands, Fiji, Jamaica and Malta).

The First World War Sanctuary
The First World War Sanctuary and the Roll of Honour which lists the full name and service details of each serviceperson from the Auckland province who died as a result of that war. The pages are still turned daily.
In the early 1960s, the Museum was expanded, both to increase the Museum’s display, storage and work space and also to expand the war memorial to include those killed in the Second World War. In 1991, the Second World War Hall of memory was expanded once more, this time to include the Roll of Honour for servicemen and women killed in the Korea, Malaya-Borneo and Vietnam conflicts.

Stained glass windows at either end of the World War Two Hall of Memory commemorating the Battles of Britain and the River Plate, and honouring the airforce and navy respectively.

World War Two Hall of Memory

Second World War shrine in the Hall of Memory. The globe represents the worldwide theatre of the war. The  stained glass windows depict the insignia of various units, including the WAAFs, WAACs, and WRNZNs.
The second floor of the Museum is devoted to memorials of war. The Rolls of Honour for the First and Second World Wars are engraved in white Sicilian marble set into the walls, as well as being contained in handwritten leather-bound volumes. 

The ‘Scars on the Heart’ exhibition covers the New Zealand civil wars and the 19th-century Anglo-Boer War, as well as the First and Second World Wars, the conflicts in Asia and the New Zealand military’s involvement in more recent United Nations peacekeeping missions. There is also a military information centre, The Armoury, with copious resources for researchers of military history and for families wanting to trace their own ancestors’ military service.

One of the displays

The exterior of the building is also an integral part of the war memorial, conveying information about the battles in which New Zealanders fought and honouring those brave men and women who served their country in those bloody and difficult times.

Around the exterior of the building is a frieze. The First World War frieze depicts 44 battle scenes; the Second World War frieze depicts members of the armed services, including nurses.

Engraved above each window is the name of a battle or campaign in which New Zealanders fought.
Unlike modern wars, one third of the 18,166 New Zealanders who died in World War One have no known grave. The Auckland War Memorial Museum serves as a place where a grateful society can honour their sacrifice, and their friends and family can remember them. Lest we forget.

The water feature in front of the Cenotaph is engraved with the Ode of Remembrance.

21 April 2014

Easter eggs and Easter bunnies

Although Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the origins of Easter can be traced back to much earlier, pagan times, hence the eggs and bunnies most of us associate with our Easter holidays.

Some sources say the name Easter comes from Ishtar (pronounced ‘Easter’), the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of sex and fertility. Given the similarity of the names, as well as the bunny’s propensity for reproduction and the egg playing an essential part in the reproductive cycle, the association of bunnies and eggs with Ishtar-Easter would seem to make perfect sense.

However, other sources say there is no actual evidence that Ishtar is associated with the present-day Easter celebrations and cite the Venerable Bede as their source when explaining that the name comes from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring. Springtime festivities traditionally celebrate rebirth and fertility, so the bunnies and the eggs fit right in with that explanation.

It seems the modern day Easter Bunny started life amongst German Lutherans (the earliest known written record is dated 1682), where his role was a little like that of Santa Claus – if a child had been good, they would receive gifts. That Bunny carried coloured eggs in a basket, though he also sometimes brought sweets and toys. Originally, the eggs were dyed and painted chicken eggs, but these days the eggs are usually made of chocolate or sometimes plastic, filled with other types of sweets.

In the week or so before this Easter, during my daily walks around Auckland’s inner city suburbs, I kept a look out for evidence of Easter in the shops I passed.

20 of the Big Eggs were at Auckland Museum over Easter weekend
The most public sign that Easter was imminent was in the huge multi-coloured eggs I found decorating public squares and walkways, shop windows and gallery spaces. These were from the Whittaker’s Big Egg Hunt – you can read more about the Hunt and see Auckland’s 46 big eggs in my previous two blogs

I also found some large colourful eggs in the streets of Newmarket but turns out they have nothing to do with Easter and are, in fact, not eggs at all. According to artist Seung Yul Oh, they are Globgobs, and this vibrant set of nine Globgobs cost $70,000 when they were installed back in June 2010. I’m a big fan of public artworks to enliven our city streets but $7777 per egg seems a rather hefty sum to pay for what are essentially big eggs. 

In the window of an antiques shop in Parnell, I discovered some gorgeous eggs, painted with fairytale farmyards full of Mother Hens and their cute little chicks, and adorable scenes of Beatrix-Potter-style rabbits.

Rabbits were also to be found decorating the shop windows at Lush, the store famous for its freshly made cosmetics. As well as their Funny Bunny gift pack, they were selling Fluffy Egg Bath Ballistics, Bunny Bubble Bars and Carrot Soaps, to name just a few of their specialty Easter treats.

Galtons of Parnell had dedicated most of their window display to Easter products. As well as the huge brown-and-white furry Bunny, which jiggled back and forth, there was a large metal rabbit ornament for the garden, and a myriad of small hanging decorations, from chickens to bunnies and so much more. In fact, their website lists 15 pages of Easter-themed products to tempt the shopper! 

However, if the Easter Bunny didn’t turn up at your house this Easter, I think I know exactly who’s to blame. The often controversial Hell Pizza company chose the Easter holiday weekend to release their new product, rabbit pizza. Though I find the rabbit-skin covering of the billboard rather distasteful, rabbits are a serious pest in New Zealand, their meat is apparently very lean, and many country folk still eat rabbit on a regular basis though it’s not a meat you’ll find at the local supermarket.

I think the Easter Bunny did indeed end up on someone’s pizza on Good (or should that be Bad?) Friday, as I spotted his ghost in Ponsonby on Saturday morning and then a rather angelic-looking rabbit in a Parnell jewellery shop window on Sunday. Let’s just hope the Bunny was resurrected or there’ll be no chocolate eggs for Easter next year!

19 April 2014

Autumn’s bounty

This is a follow up to my previous blog, Homage to Autumn. Along with the glorious golds and oranges and reds of autumn leaves come the fruits and nuts, cones and seeds that ensure new life will spring forth after the long cold days of winter.

‘Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.’ ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

‘In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.’ ~ William Blake

‘The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.’ ~ James Allen

‘It is like the seed put in the soil - the more one sows, the greater the harvest.’ ~ Orison Swett Marden

‘What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.’ ~ Meister Eckhart

‘Reason clears and plants the wilderness of the imagination to harvest the wheat of art.’ ~ Austin O'Malley

‘By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.’ ~ Robert A. Heinlein

‘Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.’ ~ Debby Boone

‘The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.’ ~ Gertrude Jekyll

‘Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.’ ~ Shigenori Kameoka

‘Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.’ ~ Marion Zimmer Bradley

‘The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.’ ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

10 April 2014

Homage to Autumn in Auckland

Auckland has quite a temperate climate so we don’t really get a lot of autumn colour – at least, nothing like the spectacular multi-coloured images you see from those places that get snow and sub-zero winter temperatures. But, if you look hard – or get down on the ground in the park, you can find traces of vibrant colour.

This ivy-covered concrete wall borders the southern motorway in Mt Hobson Rd, Newmarket

‘Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.’ ~ Stanley Horowitz

In Auckland Domain

‘Come little leaves’, said the Wind one day. ‘Come to the meadows with me and play. Put on your dresses of red and gold; for summer is past, and the days grow cold.’ ~ George Cooper

An ivy-covered wall in Dacre Street, inner-city Auckland

‘The time for longer, more everlasting contentment is in the autumn of our lives.’ ~ Albert Emerson Unaterra

Ivy on a building wall at the University of Auckland

‘Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.’ ~ Albert Camus

In Auckland Domain

‘Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.’ ~ Emily Bronte

A gingko tree in Auckland Domain

‘Autumn carries more gold in its hand than all the other seasons.’ ~ Jim Bishop

Auckland Domain

‘Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.’ ~ Robert Browning

Back of the George Fraser Gallery building in Princes Street, Auckland

‘Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile’ ~ William Cullen Bryant

Parnell Rose Gardens

‘Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.’ ~ Samuel Butler

On a building in Dundonald Street, inner-city Auckland

‘Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.’ ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Gingko trees in Eden Crescent in inner-city Auckland

‘How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.’ ~ John Burroughs

01 April 2014

Time waits for no man (or woman)

I feel a bit like I’ve been running on automatic over the last few months, idling but not moving forward. So, it seems appropriate on the first day of the new month to start moving forward again. After all, the clock is ticking!

University of Auckland clock tower

I must govern the clock, not be governed by it. ~ Golda Meir

One of the many former Auckland Railway Station clocks
 A watched clock never tells the time. ~ Welsh proverb

Auckland Art Gallery
Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going. ~ Sam Levenson

On a building in Fort Street in Auckland
By putting forward the hands of the clock you shall not advance the hour. ~ Victor Hugo

This clocks hangs outside a private house in a Parnell Street
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. ~ Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Another of the many former Auckland Railway Station clocks
Even the most expensive clock still shows sixty minutes in every hour. ~ Jewish proverb

As the clock face reads, this one hangs outside a clock shop in Parnell
The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be constantly wound up. ~ William Hazlitt

The old Ponsonby Post Office

You never want to have that ticking clock and know that you had all this time and didn't use it. ~ J. J. Abrams

The old Chief Post Office, now Britomart Transport Centre

Clocks slay time … time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life. ~ William Faulkner

A clock tower on an office block at Viaduct Harbour

“Stands the clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?” ~ Rupert Brooke,The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

Over the entrance to the 1928 General Building in Shortland Street

The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom no clock can measure. ~ William Blake

The New Zealand Guardian Trust building

Memory is life's clock. ~ Spanish proverb

Yet another of the former Auckland Railway Station clocks

No clock is more regular than the belly. ~ French Proverb

Auckland Town Hall clock