Report by NewsroomPlus.com
Contributed by Amanda Carrington
Wellington celebrated a milestone last weekend, reaching 150 years as New Zealand’s capital.
Thousands of Wellingtonians were enticed to explore the many churches, universities, museums and government buildings the city has to offer.
But Wellington has not always been New Zealand’s capital. Auckland took that title for 25 years back in 1841.
However, when Members of Parliament arrived in Onehunga they found the roads muddy and accommodation expensive. So the issue was raised to move the seats of government to some place near the Cook Strait.
The people involved in choosing the location of the capital were three Australians. And after touring 13 Cook Strait locations, the three men chose Wellington in 1865.
Still thriving as the capital today, Wellington opened its many historical buildings and famous locations to the public and I was spoilt for choice on which events to choose from.
While I could have chosen to walk the corridors of Premier House, the official residence of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, I made a beeline to one of Wellington’s famous churches, Old St Paul’s.
One of New Zealand’s greatest historical places, Old St Paul’s is constructed entirely of native timbers and was built in 1866.
Not long after entering the strikingly beautiful church, you start to feel the connection the church has with the USA.
During World War II, the US marines chose Old St Paul’s as a place of peace and worship.
American and US marine flags hang from the pillars and manager of Old St Paul’s for Heritage New Zealand Silke Bieda says the flags were left there as a gift from the marines as a mark of friendship after going through the war.
The event at Old St Paul’s was held in partnership with the US Embassy to commemorate the end of WWII.
A mass re-enactment of the Times Square kiss, with men wearing marine hats, saw hundreds of people take part, including two US marines, Lieutenant Dan Brown and Lieutenant Christopher Patton.
Lt Brown has been in the military for 18 years and has only been in the country for one month. He will be here for three years working with the New Zealand Defence Force.
“[They] had this great opportunity for me to come down and work with counterparts in New Zealand establishing relationships,” he says.
Lt Brown took part in the Kiss In re-enactment with wife Amanda Brown.
Lt Patton has been in the military for 24 years and moved to New Zealand a year ago with wife Petra.
The event also gave the public an opportunity to learn some swing dancing, if you were that way inclined, and get up close with early American cars brought from Wellington’s Early American Car Club, which caught the attention of many people.
Cars like a 1934 Chrysler Airflow, 1936 Plymouth, 1937 Chevrolet, 1977 Pontiac, 1937 Chevrolet Sedan, 1936 Ford V8 Coup and a 1939 Buick – a real character car in WWII – were on display.
Early American car club member David Mears says all the cars were original and restored and are used today. They are also hired for static displays and weddings.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wanted to drive home in one of those cars.