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WW1 commemorations in the capital

Oct 17th, 2014 | By | Category: Latest News, News

Lest we Forget: images of soldiers are projected onto the old Berry & Co. studio. IMAGE: Mark Trantum

Lest we Forget: images of soldiers are projected onto the old Berry & Co. studio. IMAGE: Mark Trantum

WELLINGTON is bringing the past into the present as World War One commemorations continue.

This week marks 100 years since more than 8,000 troops on 10 ships, left Wellington harbour bound for Europe.

Wellingtonians are being given the opportunity to see the city as it was back then, with film footage and images projected onto three prominent buildings in the CBD.

From 8 o’clock each night, the St James theatre, 147 Cuba Street and Shed One will light up with the stories of soldiers and the city’s past.

Sarah Hunter, projection director , says the three films will give a brief but emotional view of that period .

“It’s like getting to know the city all over again,” she says.

The film projected onto the St James Theatre will show they city as it was 100 years ago, including scenes of children leaping off the Eastbourne wharf and families lounging on Lyall Bay beach.

147 Cuba Street, the former premises of Berry & Co. photography studio, will exhibit photographs of young soldiers taken at the studio, before they reported for duty.

Te Papa has been working since 2011 to identify more than 100 soldiers whose portraits were among glass plate negatives found at the historic Cuba Street building in the 1980s.

Claire Regnault, Te Papa’s senior curator, says when they first started working on the Berry Boys project, a colleague suggested projecting the photographs on the building as a way of reuniting them with the place in which they were taken.

“As such it has been wonderful to work with the Wellington City Council and other Wellington-based heritage organisations to realise not only the Berry Boys aspect of Lest We Forget, but also a citywide commemoration project that showcases the city’s incredible collections, , in such a public way.”

Shed One, the final façade will show film footage and images of the 8,000 soldiers who departed Wellington shores on October 16th one hundred years ago.

Wellington Waterfront: images of the 8,000 troops who left the harbor will be projected onto Shed 1. IMAGE: Mark Trantum

Ghostly Reminder: images of the 8,000 troops who left the harbor in 1914 will be projected onto Shed 1. IMAGE: Mark Trantum

The façade will also be haunted by voices of veterans and letters from the very same soldiers who stood on the very same wharf.

Dilys Grant, Project Manager, says these were real people who were going to war to fight, to die, or if they were lucky, to return home.

Diane Pivac of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision says it is wonderful to be able to present films and sound recordings from the early 20th century using 21st century technology.

“We’re excited to see materials from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collections projected onto spaces that resonate so deeply with the content.”

Daria Malesic, editor and writer of the project, says working on the Berry & Co. aspect of the project was an emotional journey.

“The young men were still only on the verge on manhood, some with their mothers, some with wives and children.”

“I’m never going to meet them but I feel like I know them and that I’m entrenched in their stories,” she says.

Walk Wellington is also hosting guided walks around Wellington including the three projection sites.

Chris Suggate, a Walk Wellington guide, says the  idea of the walks is to give people a history of Wellington’s involvement in WW1.

She says “It’s really important to know the history of our fore brothers and we want as many people as possible to turn up.”

The walk begins at the steps of Parliament and ends at the National War Memorial on Buckle Street.

Koha from those joining the guided walks will be donated to the RSA.

Both events will run until Saturday.

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