Having been involved with the diorama from the beginning of the project, I knew what to expect - or at least I thought I did. But this was the first time I had seen it complete and with all the other exhibits in situ around it. And it was the first time I had experienced the reaction of the general public to both the overall effect and the emotional impact of the diorama. I was as flabbergasted as if it was my first time.
Hopefully the following few photos give you an impression of what the setting of the diorama is like. These pictures follow on from my earlier series of photos showing details of the diorama itself, taken a week before opening day.
Don't forget to click on any photos you want to see larger sized.
It was a beautiful morning in the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park today, with lots of people already starting to gather to see Prince Harry who was to make a flying visit in the afternoon. I made my way up the steps beside the Carillion to the old Dominion Museum, now housing The Great War Exhibition - you can just see its large badge peeping out behind the Carillion tower.
After winding down the entry passage with its colourised photographs, this is the first sight you get of the diorama. This is Battleship Hill, with the ridge-line of Chunuk Bair itself hidden behind the pillar. The diorama has had to fit around a couple of these structural pillars in the Museum, but they don't detract too much at all.
Here's the outlook from the first of the two viewing platforms. It looks out over the top of Rhododendron Ridge (left) and the trenches of Chunuk Bair (right).
Stepping back from the viewing platform, you reach the Apex end of Rhododendron Ridge. Note the glass fences that surround and protect the diorama.
The last paragraph of this placard was something else I hadn't thought about before.
We see some visitors following the story of the waves of Turkish surging up Chunuk Bair to oust the New Zealanders and British.
The last time I had seen The Apex a week before the opening of the diorama, there were probably only a third of the figures who now populate the scene. These depict the reinforcements waiting to head over the crest and up Rhododendron Ridge to attempt to assist the Wellingtons.
There are also pieces of weaponry dotted about, some from Sir Peter Jackson's personal collection. Again, look at those colourised pictures in the background, this time bringing the Turks to life.
When we were painting the miniatures, one of the questions was what colour to paint the machine guns. Luckily there was a real one to give the correct information.
Whilst I was examining the diorama this morning, I ran into one of the Wellington painting team, Paul Reynolds, and his daughter. He has placed some exquisite photos of his visit onto the Pendraken Forum.
So, that's the diorama. But bear in mind that these photos just don't do it justice - you've got to try and see this for yourself to experience its real impact.