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take in sights

New Zealand Parliament Buildings

The New Zealand Parliament Buildings house the New Zealand Parliament and are on a 45,000 square metre site at the northern end of Lambton Quay, Wellington. They consist of Parliament House, the Executive Wing, the Parliamentary Library and Bowen House.

Parliament House

The main building of the complex is Parliament House, containing the Debating Chamber, Speaker's Office, Visitors' Centre, and committee rooms.

An earlier wooden Parliament House was destroyed by fire in 1907 along with all other parliament buildings except the library. A competition to find a replacement design was announced by Prime Minister Joseph Ward in February 1911. 37 designs were entered. The winning design, by Government Architect John Campbell, was selected by Colonel Vernon, former Government Architect for New South Wales. As another of Campbell's entries won fourth place, the actual design is a combination of both entries. The design was divided into two stages, first a new structure for both chambers and second an extension and a new library to replace the existing one.

Despite cost concerns, Prime Minister William Massey let construction of the first stage begin in 1914, but without much of the ornamentation or the roof domes. The outbreak of World War I created labour and material shortages that made construction difficult. By 1917 the top floor of the first stage was completed. Although the first stage was far from finished, MPs moved into the building in 1918 to avoid having to use the old, cramped Government Building. In 1922 construction ended, though the building was incomplete (the second stage was never built). The building was finally officially inaugurated in 1995 by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Beehive

The plot allocated for the never-built southern wing of Parliament House currently contains the Executive Wing. This building was designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence in 1964 and opened in 1977. Due to its distinctive shape, it is colloquially referred to as "The Beehive".

The building is ten stories and 72 metres high. The top floor is occupied by the Cabinet offices, with the Prime Minister's offices on the floor immediately below. Other floors contain the offices of individual ministers, and various function rooms.

Following a 1997 select committee report, a plan was put in place to move the Beehive behind Parliament House, and to then finish Parliament House to the 1911 original plans. The plan was quickly scuttled due to a lack of public support and subsequent withdrawal of party support.

The Parliamentary Library

Completed in 1899, this is the oldest of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings. It survived the fire of 1907 that destroyed all the other parliament buildings, including Parliament House.

Bowen House

A multi-storey office building next to the Beehive, Bowen House houses MPs' offices and support staff. It is connected to the rest of the parliamentary complex by a tunnel under Bowen Street.

Old Government Buildings

Not part of the current parliamentary complex and the other side of Lambton Quay, this four-storey building was designed by William Clayton and built in 1876. It is the second-largest wooden building in the world (after Tōdai-ji in Nara, Japan), and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. No longer used by New Zealand's Parliament, it houses Victoria University of Wellington's Law School as part of Victoria's Pipitea campus.

Tours

Free, professionally guided tours are available hourly most days throughout the year, including some holidays. These take in sights and works from the 3 main buildings, as well as explanations and information on New Zealand history and democratic processes.

Photographs

External links

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