Date: 02 September 2009
A portal into Wellington’s colourful past will be opened to the public during Conservation Week.
The Department of Conservation is opening up the historic places that it manages in the city on Sunday 13 September, to launch the annual week of celebrations in style.
From 10 am to 3pm, people can tour Old Government Buildings, enjoy high tea and jazz at Turnbull House, and view historic film footage and architecture at the Dominion Observatory and Gardens Battery in the Botanic Gardens.
They can also take a short ferry ride to explore Matiu/Somes Island’s Maximum Security Animal Quarantine Station and old Barracks building, and try their hand at geocaching.
Spot prizes will be on offer throughout the day.
DOC historic ranger Paulette Wallace says this will be the first time that DOC’s Poneke Area has opened this many historic sites at once.
“People will be able to explore areas not normally open to visitors, including the 1894 underground Gardens Battery, with its underground tunnels and rooms, where early Wellington film footage will be shown.
“It’s a way for us to demonstrate how varied the meaning of conservation is. In addition to caring for New Zealand’s natural environment, DOC also cares for quite a few historic places and archaeological sites. These sites give fantastic insight into our capital’s past.”
Conservation Week 2009 runs from 13-20 September, this year it encourages New Zealanders to Get Involved, Kia Mahia te Mahi.
“It’s about inspiring people to celebrate and experience New Zealand’s unique wildlife, natural areas and historic places,” says Paulette Wallace.
Highlights of the historic open day are:
- Matiu/Somes Island: Geocaching by historic clues, a display of historic building plans in the Barracks, and self-guided tours of the state of the art 1968 Maximum Security Animal Quarantine Station. A circuit tour of the island will also be given on the hour by volunteer guides, the Eastbourne Forest Rangers.
- Turnbull House: High tea at 11.45am and 1.45pm. The Blackbird jazz trio will play throughout the day, and Sheila Williams who spent 12 years working in Turnbull House, will talk at 12pm and 2pm about the building and the eccentric Mr Alexander Turnbull.
- Old Government Buildings: Tours on the hour and plenty of historic displays on DOC’s role in the conservation of New Zealand’s historic heritage. The first 100 people will receive a free copy of The New Zealand Government Buildings: Past and Future.
- The Dominion Observatory and Gardens Battery: Old Wellington film footage will screen in the 1894 underground Gardens Battery, and the turret room in the observatory will showcase the architecture of the building, and skills of current tenants, mapsmiths, Geographx.