Museum of Transport & Technology, 805 Great North Road, Western Springs
Looking back over our visit to MOTAT 1 - discovery, innovation, design and imagination – we appreciate that we’d missed out on ‘Aviation’ (in MOTAT 2) but, pragmatically, you can’t do everything in just three hours – the time that we’d given ourselves before catching the early evening flight to Melbourne – we arrive back 21.30. Next time then.
It was mid-day and we’d parked alongside the perimeter fence outside the MOTAT Village, and followed the tram lines to the main entrance where we paid our NZ$10/each to get in. This is where you find the gift shop with that galaxy of interesting things for kids of all ages; fortunately, we were restricted to hand luggage, but we still got through considerably more than the original entrance fees when buying.
Whatever, we remember our first time coming through >20 years back with our kids in tow; and now they’ve shifted into the real world with kids of their own. The nipoti have yet to reach an age when they’ll be delighted to explore pump house, fire station, car design, bicycles and more. Interest doesn’t decline with age, however, and the oldies will be coming through as long as there are mobile oldies. For best, however, MOTAT 1 captures and stimulates the kids – and particularly if Dad (or Mum) is already an aficionado.
For all that this is really an evaluation of the Araroa Tearooms located in a large weatherboard house with veranda and an extensive covered area at the back just opposite Waitakere Station. The tearooms appeared to occupy one corner of the lower floor – it wasn’t really a ‘ground’ floor as such but built on a slope with storage space below. Elsewhere in the house space/rooms were presumably available for private functions.
Staff were friendly and efficient. Take your drinks/snacks outside to the small covered veranda to one side and next to the main entrance, and you over-look the rail line and the period buildings of that make up the station. Nothing was moving during our time there. It was a Tuesday with gloomy overcast skies and few people about; the tearooms contained a handful of guests – most of whom seemed to belong to a women’s group that were dressed in provocative bright red with large hats. No, we didn’t like to ask.
Couple of teas and snacks each came to NZ$12 – so costs were par for the course locally.
It was a pleasant place to sit, look out over the buildings and reflect on the historical mix of old technologies, equipment and transport vehicles – tidy, well-kept, novel; compliments to staff, volunteers and management alike for developing a national asset of this kind. (And, in particular, full marks to the volunteer guide in the pumphouse mid-day 13Mar; his enthusiasm was infectious.)
Equally, you appreciate the effort that has been made to share these images of the past and project them into relevance for the future; the need for young people with STEM capabilities, knowledge and drive that will continue to provide that competitive edge within world markets. This is no longer the 19th century – the country is no longer isolated - innovation is no longer dependent upon dedicated people working in isolation.
Aviation pioneer Richard Pearce comes to mind - he lived through to 1953, but he would still be astounded at modern New Zealand. If you can, get hold of a copy of Gordan Ogilvie’s book – assuming it’s still in print. If you’re travelling through South Canterbury, stopover at the commemorative memorial near Pleasant Point and reflect on Richard Pearce’s time/place. It’s well worth an hour’s detour off State Highway 1. Stop for a picnic. The gorse bushes have all gone.
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