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Thousands flock to opening of must-see exhibitions

8 Apr 2015

Anzac Week commemorations began in Wellington over the weekend, with the launch of two must-see exhibitions that will share stories and experiences with visitors for years to come.

Close up Weta Workshops Jacqueline Makkee applies the finishing touches to the larger than life life of Spencer Westmacott. Photo by Norm Heke Te Papa
Weta Workshop artist puts finishing touches on an exhibit at Te Papa

Positively Wellington Tourism CEO David Perks says the capital has a particular responsibility to honour our nation’s history and applauded the work that has gone into the development of Gallipoli: The scale of our war at Te Papa and The Great War Exhibition at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, which both opened to the public on Saturday.

“Wellington is New Zealand’s storytelling city, a place where visitors and locals alike can connect with our nation’s history and people. It’s very special to see Wellington’s top academic and creative talent collaborate on what are without question must-see experiences for all New Zealanders.” 

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was also officially opened on Saturday and will host the Dawn Service and National Anzac Day Service this weekend. The park is home to The Great War Exhibition, created in partnership with Sir Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films. 

For just one section of Gallipoli: The scale of our war at Te Papa, Weta Workshop spent more than 24,000 hours creating figures of eight New Zealanders. The seven soldiers and a nurse are frozen in a moment in time, at 2.4 times human scale. The exhibition drew an estimated 3,500 people over the opening weekend. 

Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis said the public response to the exhibition was remarkable.

“This was right up there with our biggest openings ever. We limit the numbers who can enter at any one time to ensure the exhibition provides an intimate, immersive experience. Visitors are using words like ‘haunting’, ‘emotional’ and ‘stunning’ and the whole team is proud to hear that feedback.” 

Mr Perks says the exhibitions are remarkable tributes designed to educate and move visitors for years to come.

 “The city will undoubtedly benefit from their presence in terms of visitation, but most importantly locals and visitors will benefit from the stories and lessons brought home so vividly by some of Wellington’s master storytellers.” 

Both exhibitions are free and are expected to be extremely busy across Anzac Weekend. Visitors are advised to expect queues and are reminded that they are scheduled to remain open for a number of years.

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