"The Wellington Provincial Memorial" Petone Things to Do Tip by Kakapo2

Petone Things to Do: 14 reviews and 21 photos

  A striking Art Déco shoebox ;-)))
by Kakapo2

Whichever street you walk down to The Esplanade from Jackson Street, Queen, Buick or Beach Street, you will always spot the Petone Settlers Museum and Provincial Memorial at a single glance. The landmark building is so striking that you just cannot miss it.

The architecture of the white building is great. If you approach it from either side it looks like a shoe box standing on the end. When you come closer you recognise two Greekish columns beside the door, and an impressive relief painting above the door. It depicts a missionary or priest showing the bible to Maori. The etched glass window to the north ? so to the road side ? shows the first encounter of the European settlers with Maori of the Te Ati Awa tribe.

This entrance door does not lead directly into the museum but into a hall, and you soon discover that there is another door opposite the one you are headed for. In fact, you can walk straight through this hall without setting foot into the museum. (And the wind blows through it as well LOL Kimi the Bear fell over several times when sitting on Banks Peninsula ;-)

I do not want to be weird, but I thought this entrance hall was the best part of the museum. (The real entrance to the museum would just be to the right.) Really!

The museum was not planned as a museum but as the only Wellington Provincial Memorial to commemorate the start of European settlement of the Lower Hutt Valley, and that this memorial should be a bathing pavillion. Contruction started in 1939, and the then Governor-General, Lord Galway, opened it on 22 January 1940 to the centennial of the arrival of the first two settlers ships Aurora and Cuba.

The architect was Auckland-based Horace Lovell Massey (1895 ? 1979) who won a national competition.

The standing ?shoe box? is the Art Déco element of the design which also includes stripped classical elements. The entrance hall is called Hall of Memories, and this was flanked with bathing pavillions for beachgoers. Those pavillions have become the Settlers Museum in 1977 because less and less people used the bathing pavillions. More correctly: The western pavillion is the core of the museum, the eastern pavillion is the Charles Heaphy Gallery in which they showed, when I was there in November 2009, an exhibition named ?Something Special?, and this something special were items of the more recent history, like a German teddybear, a lot of photos, some fragile clothes including an old wedding dress, medals, etc.

But back to this spectacular Memorial Hall. The floor is made of marble with rather a detailed inlayed map of New Zealand, and a metre-high column at the site of Petone, with a globe on top. The colourful murals were the most outstanding feature to me. They show scenes of the local history in a more modern approach. I would call the style modern pointilism, the original one being invented by the impressionist Georges Seurat.

Opening Hours:
Tue ? Fri 12noon ? 4pm
Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 1pm ? 5pm
Closed on Mondays and Christmas Day

More photos in the travelogue below.

Address: The Esplanade, Petone (end of Buick Street)
othercontact: Email: settlers@huttcity.govt.nz
Phone: 04 568 8373
Website: http://www.huttcity.govt.nz/Council-Services/Museums--Galleries/Petone-Settlers-Museum/

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  • Updated Nov 29, 2009
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