An Anticipated Reunion

Posted: April 29, 2012 by johnwilkie in new zealand
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Aaron had become particularly obsessed with meeting my mate Malky, perhaps it was because of our earlier expedition trying to find a bottle of Edradour, or perhaps he wanted the low down from a Scot on New Zealand? For the past few days he wouldn’t stop talking about it and when would we be meeting him. He had already prepared to give Malky a saltire we had brought as a present and what the seating arrangements would be when we met.

I arranged to meet Malk at the Southern Cross Bar in Wellington, much to Jacobs disgust as he was having Nando’s withdrawal and we had promised him one that evening. After walking in the Southern Cross he soon changed his mind…

Beforehand, we visited Te Papa museum. I’m not one for museums or art galleries, I find them solemn and serious affairs and more than a little stuffy. So I wasn’t really looking forward to the morning. I’m glad to say however, this was different. The place was high tech and completely interactive and laid out brilliantly. You moved from one zone to the next with ease and the displays were immersive.

Aaron and I were on a mission to learn more about the Maori, so we headed for that section, but not before seeing the colossal squid they had in a preservation tank. It was caught by accident in the Antarctic Sea by New Zealand scientists and is the only one on display in the world. Unfortunately, it is a female and I only say this as no one has ever seen a male, let alone catch one. It was a brave decision to exhibit this creature as I’m sure the scientists would have learned much more by dissecting it, but they couldn’t as the decision had already been made to preserve and display it. Instead they used specially adapted endoscopes and were only given a very short time to study the animal as it was starting to decay very rapidly.

It was huge and. Quite rightly the museums centre piece. All around the display were interactive stuff for kids to do, like make their own CGI squids and email them to themselves. Their was a 3D computer generated movie of what a squid would look and move like. It was all slick, neat and highly enjoyable.

The tectonic section was particularly interesting with a house built on the centre where you could stand and experience an earthquake. A large globe showed the major continental plates and where they met. The Pacific plate and Australasian plate both meet under New Zealand, running straight through Christchurch. Not a good place.

Aaron and I sat and watched the Maori origin story on a large screen. The room was a large Maori carved, wooden area, with the gods surrounding us, also carved. They lit up as they were mentioned in the story. All of this was to go towards one of Aaron’s cub badges where he is to learn about a different culture. Box ticked.

The highlight for me though was the interactive wall. By far the coolest bit of tech I had seen in a while. The wall itself was about 3.5m high and must have been about 12m long. The input device was a torch shaped, white wireless device which worked in the same way as a Wii controller. The idea was that you either created your own media i.e. a photo or video on the media booths provided, or uploaded our own from SD or USB. Once uploaded you transferred it to the video wall and could manipulate it using the wands. A twist of the wrist rotated the image, stepping closer enlarged it. You could select from a library of effects to add etc… I was in my element, being just a wand away from a Minority Report experience. I uploaded a short video of Jacob and I on the Swoop in Rotorua and went about editing and manipulating it on a massive screen. Only downside was that kids were also allowed to use it and kept grabbing my media and sending it spinning across the wall, only to be hidden by the thousands of images already floating about. I cursed them and their families. Anyhow, it was fun and killed 20 minutes.

We then left to meet Malky at the Southern Cross. I would never have found this place on my own, it’s a real hidden treasure. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you were in the atmosphere caught you immediately. This place should be in Lonely Planet, but then why spoil it?

It was good to see Malk again, I think the last time we met was about 7 or 8 years ago, when we both used to play football together. He is now the Technical Stage Manager at the New Zealand Ballet and he gave me the lowdown on job prospects in theatre land over here. It sounds much the same as in the UK, with colleges piling out graduates without much thought on what the industry requires. Drama isn’t big in the capital but it does exist in various forms, he did mention that the pay isn’t great, but where on earth is it good? Except in really high end projects. The topic of lifestyle versus career came up and Malk agreed to a chain extent that Kiwis choose lifestyle. However, the top end business conscious are a growing minority and the gap between the two groups is widening.

The food at Southern Cross was amazing. I received half a raw lambs arse on a stone which had been heated to about 400 degrees and you cooked it as you carved it. This is the only way to eat meat. It was so succulent that it hardly rested on my tongue before it melted. Another top Kiwi idea.

It was a very pleasant evening and good to catch up with Malky again. So, loaded with beer, lamb and good cheer we said our farewells and then headed back to our car park for the night. Tomorrow the South Island lay waiting…

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