After, quite honestly, way too long, my parents and I finally go around to going to the museum and seeing the Gallipoli display they were showing. If you don’t know (as in, you’re not a New Zealander or Australian who go taught it every year), the Gallipoli campaign in WWI is one of (or the?) worst we’ve ever fought. Basically, when the ANZAC troops arrived, in the wrong spot, the Turks simply stood at the top of the hill and picked them all off one by one. It was barely even a fight. They stayed there for EIGHT MONTHS, and never really recovered from that first awful day. What Te Papa, the museum in Wellington has done is created these huge models to go along with your typical exhibit, and it was AMAZING. Made by Weta Workshop too, the people behind Lord of the Rings and stuff! When you first walk in, this is what you see.
My history nerd side fell completely in love.
Like I said, as a New Zealander I’ve been taught about this campaign every year for as long as I can possibly remember, so I didn’t learn a whole lot. I’m sure lots of people would, because it went into a lot of detail about all the different battles that were fought. I’ve just finished thirteen years of schooling though, and have taken some form of history or social studies every single year, so we cover most of that sort of thing. What gets me is the stories from real people though, like the last letters a man wrote to his wife before being killed in combat.
And these models were all based off real life people, which really humbles you. The detail on them is beyond anything I could ever show you in a photo; I’m talking beads of sweat on foreheads, dirt under nails, tears on faces and blood splashes on the ground. There are no words for how amazingly these were made.
Every person came with a story, of the incredibly brave things they did, the people they lost (like this nurse, reading the letter telling her her brother was missing in action, presumed dead), and it just sends this heartbreaking reminder of how awful everything that happened at Gallipoli was. It makes me furious that people in charge let it happen, but at the same time I’m so proud of all the people that went and fought. The Maori Battalion for example – something I did learn was that our native people were initially refused the chance to fight, so it’s even more amazing that this battalion was even formed in time for them to be involved.
Oh, and let’s not forget all the young people that went and fought. 18 was the age, but as New Zealanders, there was nothing that was more amazing than fighting for the great Mother Country of England, and doing our King proud. It was this big adventure, to go and travel the world, so we had such young people going out and fighting and dying and seeing this awful carnage. That’s something that never fails to stun me.
At the very end of this exhibit, there’s this man, who stands in a pile of poppies (the symbol of Gallipoli). Each poppy has been written on by people who have come through and visited the exhibit, so there are messages to dead ancestors, veterans, our current soldiers, and just generally the people of our country who fought. It’s honestly amazing to see how even now, 100 years on, we’re still being affected by what happened in our past. I walked out feeling upset, for sure, but also just so passionate about learning more about the way our world works, in the past and right now, with history happening RIGHT NOW and me being able to live through it. It was just so amazingly made, and it’s so amazing that it happened, and I enjoyed it so so much.