Dream job

Now based in Wellington, Briar Barry still returns to her home town every summer.

Now based in Wellington, Briar Barry still returns to her home town every summer.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT: Former Gisborne woman Briar Barry’s dream job with Story Inc takes her into creatively-rich projects. Picture supplied
MAORI SOLDIERS’ FUND FOUNDER: Born just outside Gisborne and schooled in town until she was 12, Lady Miria Pomare features in Women’s War, Chapter Five of an installation Briar helped produce. Picture from Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-043506-F

From a childhood at Wainui Beach to studying law at Otago, Briar Barry tells Mark Peters about the “dream job” she landed in Wellington and the Gisborne heroine who features in one of her most recent projects.

An advertisement Briar Barry spotted shortly before graduating from Otago University with a degree in law and art history led her to a dream job in Wellington where she now lives.

The young Gisborne woman had just completed five and a half years’ of study but didn’t want to be a lawyer for the rest of her life. She was considering her next big step when she saw an ad posted by Story Inc, a company that creates museum exhibitions, public art installations, theme park attractions and visitor centres here and overseas.

“I called them and asked if I could be an intern,” says Briar.

“They took me on and after three weeks offered me a full-time job.”

Now a producer with the company, Briar has been involved with major projects such as He Tohu, a permanent exhibition launched last year at the National Library. The exhibition is centred on three constitutional documents: the 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage petition.

The most recent project Briar has worked on is Chapters of the Great War, a series of temporary exhibitions at The Great War exhibition at Pukeahu in Wellington. The exhibit uses six big projection screens and an immersive audio environment to create a powerful experience for visitors.

“The movie experience is screened across the screens at different times,” says Briar.

“It is a combination of film footage with comments from descendants of people from World War 1 and flashbacks with verbatim quotes from letters and diaries.”

Story Inc made six shows based on themes from World War 1. The series focuses on lesser known stories from The Great War.

Chapter One, Wounded, told the story of disfigurement and wounds suffered by tens of thousands of New Zealanders who served during the First World War. The second film, Dissent, explored the theme of opposition to New Zealand’s involvement in World War 1 and told the stories of conscientious objectors, soldiers, iwi, religious groups and politicians who spoke out against the war.

The Battle of Passchendaele, in which Allies fought for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, and war in the Holy Lands, were the subject of the following two chapters.

The fifth film, Women’s War, focuses on women’s diverse experience of the war at home and abroad. The film briefly features Lady Miria Pomare, of Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent, who launched the Maori Soldiers’ Fund in 1915.

The final and current chapter, The End of the War? looks at the war-time experiences of nine people and explores the impact of their experiences through their descendants, 100 years on. Lady Miria Pomare features more significantly in this chapter and her descendant, also called Miria Pomare, talks about her great-grandmother’s charity work in the film.

“It talks about the ongoing legacy of the war, the ongoing psychological trauma and how it impacted on later generations,” says Briar.

Born in Gisborne, educated at Wainui Beach School, Ilminster and Woodford House, Briar returns to her home town every summer. She has strong childhood memories of Wainui Beach. Her father Denys Barry was a surfer so she learned to surf the nose of his longboard, but rather than take up the sport she became a competitive swimmer with Comet Swimming Club.

“Greg Meade was my coach. He’d pick me up at 5am for training at 6am. I was always a butterfly swimmer. I spent a long time staring at the bottom of the pool.”

She has always loved books so the HB Williams Memorial Library also features strongly in her memories of her home town.

“Dad would take me to the library every Saturday. Muirs Bookshop is still one of my favourite bookshops.”
Despite Denys’s encouragement to seek any vocation she should choose, Briar followed in her father’s footsteps and enrolled in law at university. While there, she stumbled into art history, she says, but having found it, she loved it.

“I was doing a history degree but because history and art history were linked, you could cross credit. I loved it and stayed on to do honours and write a dissertation.”

Her paper focused on children’s book illustrations because they are not given as prestigious a place in art history as other art, she says.

Towards the end of her five and half years at Otago she considered what to do with her life.

“I never felt a huge passion for the idea of being a lawyer but it’s a good grounding. Law gives you a new way of thinking. It’s invaluable in that sense.”

Then she found the “dream job” with Story Inc and moved to Wellington where she met a bloke from her boarding school years in Hawke’s Bay who later became her husband.

After starting work with Story Inc in 2010, Briar left in 2012 so she and her husband could travel and try other jobs, “then back to my dream job”.

“I wanted to see what else was out there. Time overseas reinforced for me how lucky I was to be at Story Inc.”

The couple had planned to move to London but a severe injury to her foot in a netball accident 10 days after taking up the sport in 2014 put a stop to that. Briar spent three months with her foot in plaster followed by time strapped into a moon boot.

“That’s life. Your plans change.”

Now happily ensconced in her role as producer with Story Inc, Briar looks forward to the company’s next big production: an engineering exhibition, aimed at teenagers, in a science centre in Singapore.

A New Zealand tour of the show, that takes in Gisborne, is not on the cards. But who knows?
Plans change . . .

Lady Miria Pomare

Lady Miria Pomare features in both Chapters 5 and 6 of the installations Briar Barry helped produce.

Born in Ahipakura, east of Gisborne, Miria was schooled at Gisborne Central then Gisborne District High, says her grand-daughter Miria Louise Woodbine Pomare in her biography.
Miria’s upbringing was strictly along upper-class European lines although she was initiated into Maori life early on by her mother.
“Miria became actively involved in the community and in 1914, when Europe plunged into war, she entered patriotic activities. The call came from Lady Liverpool, wife of the governor, and together they launched Lady Liverpool’s and Lady Pomare’s Maori Soldiers’ Fund in 1915.

“The primary objective of this organisation was to provide comforts for soldiers of the Maori Contingent: Maori food (such as dried pipi and preserved muttonbird), knitted garments and letters were sent overseas, receptions were held for returned servicemen, and wounded soldiers were visited in hospital.”

According to one story, Lady Miria Pomare would collect tufts of wool that had stuck to fences, knit the wool into socks, and put a sovereign in the toe of each before sending the socks to men in the Maori Battalion.

From a childhood at Wainui Beach to studying law at Otago, Briar Barry tells Mark Peters about the “dream job” she landed in Wellington and the Gisborne heroine who features in one of her most recent projects.

An advertisement Briar Barry spotted shortly before graduating from Otago University with a degree in law and art history led her to a dream job in Wellington where she now lives.

The young Gisborne woman had just completed five and a half years’ of study but didn’t want to be a lawyer for the rest of her life. She was considering her next big step when she saw an ad posted by Story Inc, a company that creates museum exhibitions, public art installations, theme park attractions and visitor centres here and overseas.

“I called them and asked if I could be an intern,” says Briar.

“They took me on and after three weeks offered me a full-time job.”

Now a producer with the company, Briar has been involved with major projects such as He Tohu, a permanent exhibition launched last year at the National Library. The exhibition is centred on three constitutional documents: the 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage petition.

The most recent project Briar has worked on is Chapters of the Great War, a series of temporary exhibitions at The Great War exhibition at Pukeahu in Wellington. The exhibit uses six big projection screens and an immersive audio environment to create a powerful experience for visitors.

“The movie experience is screened across the screens at different times,” says Briar.

“It is a combination of film footage with comments from descendants of people from World War 1 and flashbacks with verbatim quotes from letters and diaries.”

Story Inc made six shows based on themes from World War 1. The series focuses on lesser known stories from The Great War.

Chapter One, Wounded, told the story of disfigurement and wounds suffered by tens of thousands of New Zealanders who served during the First World War. The second film, Dissent, explored the theme of opposition to New Zealand’s involvement in World War 1 and told the stories of conscientious objectors, soldiers, iwi, religious groups and politicians who spoke out against the war.

The Battle of Passchendaele, in which Allies fought for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, and war in the Holy Lands, were the subject of the following two chapters.

The fifth film, Women’s War, focuses on women’s diverse experience of the war at home and abroad. The film briefly features Lady Miria Pomare, of Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent, who launched the Maori Soldiers’ Fund in 1915.

The final and current chapter, The End of the War? looks at the war-time experiences of nine people and explores the impact of their experiences through their descendants, 100 years on. Lady Miria Pomare features more significantly in this chapter and her descendant, also called Miria Pomare, talks about her great-grandmother’s charity work in the film.

“It talks about the ongoing legacy of the war, the ongoing psychological trauma and how it impacted on later generations,” says Briar.

Born in Gisborne, educated at Wainui Beach School, Ilminster and Woodford House, Briar returns to her home town every summer. She has strong childhood memories of Wainui Beach. Her father Denys Barry was a surfer so she learned to surf the nose of his longboard, but rather than take up the sport she became a competitive swimmer with Comet Swimming Club.

“Greg Meade was my coach. He’d pick me up at 5am for training at 6am. I was always a butterfly swimmer. I spent a long time staring at the bottom of the pool.”

She has always loved books so the HB Williams Memorial Library also features strongly in her memories of her home town.

“Dad would take me to the library every Saturday. Muirs Bookshop is still one of my favourite bookshops.”
Despite Denys’s encouragement to seek any vocation she should choose, Briar followed in her father’s footsteps and enrolled in law at university. While there, she stumbled into art history, she says, but having found it, she loved it.

“I was doing a history degree but because history and art history were linked, you could cross credit. I loved it and stayed on to do honours and write a dissertation.”

Her paper focused on children’s book illustrations because they are not given as prestigious a place in art history as other art, she says.

Towards the end of her five and half years at Otago she considered what to do with her life.

“I never felt a huge passion for the idea of being a lawyer but it’s a good grounding. Law gives you a new way of thinking. It’s invaluable in that sense.”

Then she found the “dream job” with Story Inc and moved to Wellington where she met a bloke from her boarding school years in Hawke’s Bay who later became her husband.

After starting work with Story Inc in 2010, Briar left in 2012 so she and her husband could travel and try other jobs, “then back to my dream job”.

“I wanted to see what else was out there. Time overseas reinforced for me how lucky I was to be at Story Inc.”

The couple had planned to move to London but a severe injury to her foot in a netball accident 10 days after taking up the sport in 2014 put a stop to that. Briar spent three months with her foot in plaster followed by time strapped into a moon boot.

“That’s life. Your plans change.”

Now happily ensconced in her role as producer with Story Inc, Briar looks forward to the company’s next big production: an engineering exhibition, aimed at teenagers, in a science centre in Singapore.

A New Zealand tour of the show, that takes in Gisborne, is not on the cards. But who knows?
Plans change . . .

Lady Miria Pomare

Lady Miria Pomare features in both Chapters 5 and 6 of the installations Briar Barry helped produce.

Born in Ahipakura, east of Gisborne, Miria was schooled at Gisborne Central then Gisborne District High, says her grand-daughter Miria Louise Woodbine Pomare in her biography.
Miria’s upbringing was strictly along upper-class European lines although she was initiated into Maori life early on by her mother.
“Miria became actively involved in the community and in 1914, when Europe plunged into war, she entered patriotic activities. The call came from Lady Liverpool, wife of the governor, and together they launched Lady Liverpool’s and Lady Pomare’s Maori Soldiers’ Fund in 1915.

“The primary objective of this organisation was to provide comforts for soldiers of the Maori Contingent: Maori food (such as dried pipi and preserved muttonbird), knitted garments and letters were sent overseas, receptions were held for returned servicemen, and wounded soldiers were visited in hospital.”

According to one story, Lady Miria Pomare would collect tufts of wool that had stuck to fences, knit the wool into socks, and put a sovereign in the toe of each before sending the socks to men in the Maori Battalion.

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