I was recently in Wellington for a long weekend, and the city was celebrating 150 years of being our capital. There were lots of public buildings open for tours behind the scenes, and free buses on the circuit.
First on my agenda were two tours of the art and textiles departments of Te Papa, our national museum. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I took some photos on my ancient cell phone, but I can't work out how to transfer them to my new computer as it doesn't have an SD card slot!
Next I toured Government House, the official residence of the Governor General, Queen Elizabeth II's representative in New Zealand. It was a very warm day for the middle of winter.
Because my photos were so bad, I went back the next day with a better camera.
This gorgeous costume was made out of tapa cloth, which is made from mulberry bark in the Pacific Islands. I think it was made for the Wearable Art Awards.
From the outside, it's a hideous mock-Tudor monstrosity built in 1910, but the interior was a revelation, packed with art and antiques. It's the closest thing we have to the stately homes in Europe, as we are such a young country, with very few aristocrats (fortunately).
Lovely chandeliers in the ballroom. At the end is a portrait of Betty and a dais with two understated thrones where she sits when she visits Aotearoa.
Part of the display of gifts from heads of state - this gilt robe was given to a previous G-G, Dame Silvia Cartwright. (Such is the smallness of NZ that I work with a relative of Silvia's.) Note the beautiful curtains in the background.
Gifts from Pacific nations on a tivaevae quilt in purple, green, and pink.
A miniature tutu given by the NZ Royal Ballet.
Stunning blue silk curtains with silver tassels. I know, I'm totally obsessed with curtains.
There was a sweet collection of embroidered cushions featuring NZ native birds in the formal living rooms.
A painting of the house from the other side.
The Women's Institutes of each city have made tapestry seat covers for the dining chairs.
The aforementioned Dame Silvia, who is currently a judge in the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal.
Each room has a specially designed carpet - I think this one depicts a flowering harakeke.
A coat lushly embroidered with gold. I saw a similar one in Te Papa.
One of the hilarious guides in drag on the free buses.
Part of the upstairs area was open, for the first time ever, but no photography was allowed, and the doors were roped off.
And there you have it - my first blog post in almost a year. I don't know why I've taken such a long break - a thousand things to do and never enough time, perhaps.