The Duke sits in a replica WWI plane while the Duchess and Sir Peter Jackson look on (April 10, 2014, Source: Tourism New Zealand)
(Blenheim – 10 April, 2014) – Sir Peter Jackson aired his passion for aviation history with royalty today when the famous movie maker introduced the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to one of his favourite parts of Middle-earth, New Zealand.
Their Royal Highnesses spent their second day of official duties in Blenheim in the wine producing region of Marlborough in the north of New Zealand’s South Island.
It was a day that highlighted Marlborough’s best: friendly locals, award-winning wine and food and one of the most acclaimed aviation museums in the world.
Their visit to Blenheim had begun with a more solemn start when the couple laid a wreath to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War at a commemoration ceremony in Blenheim’s Seymour Square.
Thousands of well-wishers turned out to catch a glimpse of the couple. Children dressed in princess outfits and home made crowns and climbed trees to get a closer look as the Duke and Duchess chatted to war veterans and fans before heading to Wither Hills Winery where they were treated to some of Marlborough’s finest cuisine and a showcase of the Sauvignon Blanc for which the region is world-famous.
Sir Peter Jackson took them through Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre showing off his impressive collection of WWI memorabilia. The award-winning director of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films has been an avid collector since he was 12 years old and his extensive personal collection includes several aircraft and rare artifacts which are on permanent display here.
Outside among the waiting crowd, the Duke was cajoled into climbing into a replica WWI Sopwith Pup named Peggy while Sir Peter took a photo on his phone and Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe looked on.
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is no ordinary transport museum and taking a tour through it is to walk through the pages of WWI history with guides bringing the stories to life. The talented team of Wingnut Films and Weta Workshop who created Middle Earth, worked with Sir Peter to recreate several scenes of the battles that occurred around these airplanes.
Most notable is the exhibit of the demise of the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, depicted lying beside his crashed plane while Australian soldiers pilfer his belongings, souveniring fabric from his famous red Triplane. An original piece of the red fabric with a black cross from his aircraft is on display in one of the cabinets in this exhibition.
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