Year 10 girls enjoyed three action-packed days in Wellington in early August with the Social Sciences Department. The itinerary included The Great War Exhibition and Last Post Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and a tour of the Westpac Stadium. Girls were able to compare world religions by visiting the Wellington Islamic Centre and a tour of a Synagogue as part of a visit to the New Zealand Holocaust Centre. Visiting Parliament on Friday afternoon was a particular highlight as local MP Craig Foss gave the students an excellent insight into life as an MP and a cabinet minister.
The Great War Exhibition
The trip to the Great War Exhibition was first on the agenda for the Year 10 students and we were fortunate enough to gain an abundance of information about World War One. Created by Sir Peter Jackson, the colourful and realistic exhibitions commemorated this tragic event. We were shown around the exhibitions by our tour guide Fin, who explained the important battles thoroughly. The exhibitions took us on a journey from the beginning of the enlistment opportunity through to the gruelling battles such as Somme and Ypres. The life-sized exhibitions helped us to understand and gain an impression of what World War One was truly like. Seeing the mesmerising exhibitions and questioning the knowledgeable guide, we left the Great War Exhibition wanting to learn more.
To pay a tribute to those who lost their lives and fought in the First World War we also attended the National War Memorial as well as a Last Post ceremony.
In the War Memorial we were presented with images from the opening of the memorial and were taught why it was important to commemorate. We then walked down to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, where we saw memorials from England, Turkey and Australia. We were amazed at the diverse range of ways we commemorate this event. New Zealand’s War Memorial specifically commemorates those that are still lost, and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior symbolises this. While we stood around the memorial we recited the words inscribed on the tomb:
The great pain we feel
Is for you who were our future
Come back return home,
We have waited for you
Through the long years
You were away.
Sorrow aches within me.
These words are written in both Māori and English and they symbolise the calling back of the warriors. We also had the honour of experiencing the Last Post ceremony. Since ANZAC Day 2015 and until 11 November 2018, the Last Post ceremony will take place every evening. This ceremony is to respect and honour those who lost their lives and fought for us at war. We remained silent throughout the procession as the flags were taken down, the bugle sounded and the poem In Flanders Field was recited.
These events were a spectacular way to start our trip and I am sure we all left knowing we had paid a tribute to those who lost their lives, as well as broadened our knowledge around the brutal reality of World War One.
Ella Ruddle, Year 10
On the Thursday in Wellington, we went to Westpac stadium and toured around all the different places. We had a very knowledgeable guide called Ray Richards. He told us so much about the history of the stadium and showed us the different places inside. We went into the players’ changing rooms and warm up areas, and on to the turf, but we were not allowed to walk on the real grass as the field needs to stay in perfect condition.
We also visited the corporate boxes and the internal concourse where the food and bars are. We gathered lots of useful information that will help the Year 10 students to complete their internal comparing the Westpac Stadium to the Colosseum in Ancient Rome. Ray told us cool and useful facts like how the stadium has 16 kitchens to prepare and make all the food for visitors and how the stadium is only built to last 50 years. I had no idea how big it really was and all the different things that were actually inside. It was a really enjoyable experience and I learnt so much about the stadium.
Harriet Grant, Year 10
Wellington Islamic Centre
Another interesting part of our trip was a visit to the Wellington Islamic Centre in Kilbirnie. This was an experience all of us had not been exposed to before, so it was interesting to learn about Islamic culture. We were told about Muslim prayer, which was fascinating to compare to Christianity and the Anglican Chapel services that we attend at Woodford House. One of the things we did at the Mosque was observing a group of Muslim men at their mid-afternoon prayer. We were also taken on a tour around the whole centre to the classrooms, the library and the male and female prayer rooms. Our tour ended with a delicious feast of chips, biscuits and drinks provided by the Centre, which was appreciated by all, and a great end to a very interesting visit.
Holocaust Centre of New Zealand
Much of our learning while in Wellington was based around the events of the World Wars. One of the final destinations on our trip was the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. As part of this visit we attended a Synagogue to learn about Judaism. We learnt all about this religion and culture from our guide from the Holocaust Centre who was a Jew herself and had relatives involved in the Holocaust. It was very interesting to hear about the Jewish way of life and see how the Jewish Synagogue functions in comparison to our Chapel. I found it very interesting to learn about the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah process where a Jewish child becomes an adult by leading a service and memorising a section of the scrolls in a different language and either chanting or singing them in front of the whole congregation. This visit was a great learning experience and important for providing more knowledge about different religions in our society and further increasing our understanding of the Holocaust.
Our visit to Parliament was a particular highlight because we were met by Craig Foss, our local MP. Over the past eight years, Mr Foss has shown nine groups of Woodford House students around Parliament and this was his last ever school tour.
Photo by Craig Foss.
Photo by Craig Foss.
Our behind-the-scenes tour started with an informative talk on life as an MP and Mr Foss’s future plans for life after Parliament in the press room. We were then lucky enough to take a trip through the beautiful Parliament marble halls and passed an incredible amount of doorways and entrances to the black and white tile floor where the press stands to interview Members of Parliament, which many of us had only seen before on the news.
This led us to a definite highlight of our tour, the debating chamber. The intricate wooden carving was mesmerising and we were taught about the speaker, and where the MPs sit and the goings-on in the debating chamber. We were even allowed to sit down in one of the green MP seats and to feel and see what it is like to be a Member of Parliament. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am sure all of us thoroughly enjoyed.
We also visited the room where the Queen attended when a new Prime Minister was elected. It was very interesting to learn about how royalty were not allowed to walk on the green carpet, and only on the red carpet due to lasting traditions.
Our final destination was the banquet hall that very interestingly had a bulletproof slab of metal behind the stage so that if a very important person is present, they would be protected from assassination. It was particularly interesting to see how the curved shape of the Beehive building affects the shape of the room and to learn about the unique design. Overall, our visit to Parliament was an excellent learning opportunity and we are very appreciative to Mr Foss for taking us on such a special tour.