Kapiti Coast and a Cultural Crawl

Last
weekend the weather was less dreadful than forecast, so on Saturday we took the
train up the coast and walked through Queen Elizabeth Park, on the Kapiti Coast
which stretches  north of Wellington between
Porirua and Paraparaumu. In the morning, we were sitting outside in the sun
having coffees and a date muffin – quite amazing, given the doom-laden forecast
just a day before. We walked through the park, with great views over the
seashore out to Kapiti Island. The weather turned wetter later, and we took
shelter in a large but not too exciting shopping mall at Paraparaumu. Then we
got the train back to Wellington, and a bus to Brooklyn to have a meal and go
to the cinema.

On
Sunday it was a lot wetter, so we decided on a ‘cultural crawl’ through the
city (like a pub crawl, but with art intermingled with the alcohol). We began
at the City Art Gallery, mostly filled by an exhibition called ‘Force Field’ by
an artist called Fiona Hall. This was interesting, but a bit weird and modern
for us. Then we went to the Town Hall for a free organ concert by the city
organist, who played works by a selection of composers on a massive organ, lit
up in purple like something out of ‘Dr Phibes’ (for those of you old enough to
remember). Most impressive display, and we’re convinced the organist has more
than the regulation number of arms and legs. Then it was off to the national
museum of Te Papa to see an exhibition of work by the painter Rita Angus, which
was a bit more our scene. Later we had a nice Italian meal and went to the
cinema again – this time to the big Embassy theatre, where ‘Lord of the Rings’
had its premier.

So
this weekend we have totalled two cinema visits, two art galleries, and an
organ recital, as well as a long coastal walk – not bad for a couple of old
‘uns.

Kiwi Cinemas

One
of the great features of New Zealand is the range of quirky little cinemas to be
found scattered around in the little towns and suburbs. There seem to be basically
three kinds of cinema here. One is the standard, rather scruffy, multiplex like
at home, with popcorn, noisy kids and bored teenagers hanging about. There are Reading
cinema complexes of this type in most New Zealand towns. But as well there are cinemas
in the grand tradition, with large screens and plush seating – the Embassy in Wellington
is a prime example. It claims to have the second largest screen in the southern
hemisphere, and it proudly displays photos of the Lord of the Rings premiere which was held there.  

The
third type is the little local cinema, both plush and comfortable, where going to
see a movie is still an event. Universally, it will have a bar, and you will be
able to take a glass of wine in with you and enjoy it in upholstered comfort while
watching the film. Good examples are to be found in Brooklyn, in Island Bay, in
Petone at the head of Wellington Bay, and across in Martinborough in the Wairarapa.
In New Zealand, cinema-going can definitely be a pleasurable and social occasion.

We’ve
been going to the cinema quite a lot lately, partly due to the dearth of live theatre.
In the process we’ve watched a couple of home-grown films, which may not have made
it to the UK. One was ‘Second-hand Wedding’, set on the Kapiti Coast, which is an
amusing little comedy about life, marriage and garage sales. On Sunday we saw ‘Apron
Strings’, set in south Auckland, which was a bit more downbeat but concerned problems
and tensions in both Indian and Pakeha (European) families. Both are probably worth
seeing, especially to get an insight into life in modern New Zealand.

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