Centenary Exhibition N.Z. 1940
Bruck, Stella Date
1940 See full details
The significant government-allocated sum of £75,000 allowed for The Wellington Centennial Exhibition to cover 14 acres with buildings and 40 acres with gardens and amusements, including two firsts for the Southern Hemisphere - the grandest lighting scheme built, with 37,000 lights powered by 26 substations, and the largest amusement park built, with a 3000-foot long roller coaster, a fountain and a 155-foot tower symbolising the colonist nation’s progress; amid soundshells, a broadcasting studio, a huge tea-room, a dance hall, a crèche, a free kindergarten and a replica of the Waitomo Caves.
Five weeks after World War II was declared, in an effort to keep national morale high, the Exhibition was launched on 8th November 1939 to a 40,000-strong crowd. During the 154 days it was open, 2,641,043 people visited, over 1.5 times the then-population of New Zealand.
When the Exhibition closed, the international pavilions were dismantled, and a 1946 fire destroyed most of the remaining structures, save two; the fountain was re-established at Kelburn Park, and the statue of Kupe Raiatea, with his wife Hine Te Apārangi, and tohunga Pekahourangi, commemorating the moment when they sited land from their waka, Matahourua, was cast in bronze and in 1999 was re-sited to Wellington’s waterfront.
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