Auckland: Auckland (War Memorial) Museum

My brother flew back home today on an early evening flight. Due to when he had to head out to the airport, that left time for only one tourist attraction today, the Auckland Museum. (See, I told you I’d visit the Auckland Museum.)

After he left, I had some time for aimless wandering before drinks (see aside #2, below) and dinner, but the wandering wasn’t journal-entry worthy.

Auckland Museum, By Any Other Name

The Auckland Museum
The Auckland Museum

I’ve seen the Auckland Museum referred to, both at the museum and in tour books, as either simply the “Auckland Museum” or the “Auckland War Memorial Museum.”

I’m going to call it just the Auckland Museum below because I’m a lazy so and so. Others might use words other than “so and so” to describe me, but I want to retain a family rating on this journal in the unlikely event that more than the usual three people want to read it. (Note to one particular reader among those three, you know who you are: Yes, I do consider you an adult now.)

Māori sculptures at the Auckland Museum. They weren't sticking their tongues out specifically at me. At least, I don't think so.
Māori sculptures at the Auckland Museum. They weren’t sticking their tongues out specifically at me. At least, I don’t think so.

The Auckland Museum is a fair-sized, three-level museum. In addition to the entrance and a café, the ground floor holds galleries exploring Māori culture and history. There are also exhibits on other South Pacific people, but the ground floor is principally Māori-focused.

The first floor (second level) contained exhibits on natural history, including flora, fauna and geology. The museum considers humans to be natural fauna despite, from what I read in newspapers, many humans appear to be about as far from natural as you can possibly get. But, I digress.

Another Māori sculpture
Another Māori sculpture

Because it included humans in this categorization, in addition to, for example, rocks and dinosaur skeletons , the first floor also contains an Egyptian mummy and Asian and Middle Eastern human-produced artifacts.

The top floor of the Auckland Museum contains a small theatre (more on that later), exhibits on New Zealand’s participation in wars, and memorials to New Zealand’s war dead.

The War Memorial

A plaque on a wall of the top floor said the museum was built as a memorial to New Zealand’s war fallen. Hence, I suppose, the sporadic “War Memorial” in the museum’s name.

The exhibits on this floor primarily covered the First and Second World Wars, but it also explored other “lesser” wars.

The museum also provided a couple of exhibits directed at children. We didn’t go to those, so I can’t say anything about them. Well, I could say something about them, but I’d have to make it up entirely. It would almost certainly be entirely false.

Volcanoes in Auckland, Oh, My

A gallery on the first floor (natural history) provided information on volcanoes, including a simulation of what it would be like to sit in a home near the site of a volcano just before and during the eruption. It starts with some rumbling and power outages, followed by death. Fortunately, the museum chose not to simulate death particularly realistically.

The three regular readers of this travel journal know I have a memory like a steel something or other. You know. A steel thingy. Whatever that is.

Nevertheless, despite my nearly nonexistent memory, I learned and remembered one piece of information presented in the volcanoes gallery. It’s this: Geologists assure us that Auckland sits on top of an active volcanic field.

On average, volcanoes erupt under what is now Auckland once every 5,000 years. (Yes, I remembered that too from the museum.) The last one was about 600 years ago. (I looked that up.) But that frequency is an average, not a precise interval. The next one could erupt tomorrow, tens of years from now, tomorrow, hundreds of years from now, tomorrow, or not for thousands of years. Or, did I mention, tomorrow?

What, Me Worry?

Those aforementioned three regular readers also know that I’m a major worrier. Or, rather, not so much major, but, rather, of truly epic proportions.

So, thank you oh, so, very much, geologists for assuring us that Auckland is a volcanically active area. But that’s not very reassuring to me. To say the least.

Māori Cultural Performance at the Auckland Museum

Māori dance performance
Māori dance performance

For a fee, the Auckland Museum offers a Māori cultural performance as an optional-extra. We took that option.

The Māori performers met the paying customers in the Māori exhibit area on the ground level at the appointed time. They then escorted us up to the museum’s theatre.

The performance lasted about a half-hour. It included song, dance, and narrative on Māori culture and history. It was very informative and entertaining.

Māori haka (war dance)
Māori haka (war dance)

Aside #1

People, people, people. How many times do we have to talk about this before you learn? Words have consequences. Think before you speak.

We already discussed this in the entry on the dolphin and whale watching tour, in which the captain and another employee-commentator referred to “common dolphins” and “killer whales.” You’ve had a couple of days to heed my words and correct the errors of your ways. But some people just refuse to learn from their mistakes and rise above.

Of what am I talking? This.

"Low life predators"
“Low life predators”

In one of the galleries on the natural history floor, the museum had a display titled “Low Life Predators.”

“Low life?” Really? How do you think it makes them feel to be called “low life?”

How degrading. You can’t possibly expect them to advance socially if you call them that.

Sure, it’s written as “low life,” not “lowlife. But these creatures can’t read. And you can’t hold that against them. They are victims of a species trap. Because their parents couldn’t read, their parents couldn’t read to them. Hence, they never learned to read. It’s sad, really.

One of the tragic consequences of their illiteracy is that they can’t tell the difference between “low life” and “lowlife,” as the two sound alike.

And I don’t think the creatures in the display had the most acute of hearing. It’s not like they are the sorts of animals who can hear dog whistles of either the high-pitched kind or of the social conservative variety. So, even if the speaker used the most precise elocution possible, creating a distinction between “low life” and “lowlife” that would be audible to humans, these creatures probably couldn’t distinguish between the two.

The creatures were likely the nicest, politest vegans you’d ever want to meet before being called, as they heard it, lowlife. But then, out of anger, they started eating other creatures to exact their revenge.

To correct this injustice, the museum should refer to them as altitude challenged, rather than low life creatures.

It’s just common courtesy and respect.

Aside #2

I feel the need here to give a shout-out to the hotel I’m staying at in Auckland, Hotel Grand Windsor. It’s a charming boutique hotel in the central business district of Auckland, just a couple blocks from the harbour.

During my stay, I received an email inviting me to drinks in the bar one evening, this evening to be specific. The email said they invited only a select list of guests.

The hotel operates under an Accor hotel brand. I figured they invited me because I am at the platinum status level in Accor’s loyalty program.

I don’t know if that’s why I was invited, but I suspect the hotel management probably now regrets the invitation. Representatives of the management of the company that owns the hotel, not Accor, were there. They greeted me warmly and asked what brought me to Auckland (business or holiday), where I’m from, and what I do. “Touring, Toronto, Canada, and I’m retired.”

I don’t think retired is what they were looking for. The other guests included two men in the media business, one woman in events management, and another gentleman whose profession I didn’t catch, except that it involved a lot of travel. In other words, people who could steer a lot of business to that hotel and other hotels the company owns.

Despite hearing I was retired, they were exceptionally gracious, engaged me in considerable conversation, and repeatedly insisted that I order whatever I wanted from the bar at no charge, while wait staff brought complimentary appetizers to the table.

Two Aperol spritzes and more than an hour later, I took my leave (possibly staggering a bit; I’m a cheap drunk) and went out for dinner at a restaurant I’d already booked.

So, a big thanks to the Hotel Grand Windsor for its hospitality.

I mention this not just to thank the hotel, but also because I’m totally blaming any and all typos I made in this post on the Aperol spritzes (and the one glass of wine I had with dinner).

(Yes. I know; I know. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never hyped a hotel in this travel journal before. The hotel management never once asked me to do so, nor, unless they read this, do they have any idea I did. But, free drinks and appetizers! I can be bought at very popular prices.)

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