Parliament House

New Zealand Parliament Grounds, 1 Molesworth Street and 1 Museum Street, Pipitea, WELLINGTON

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Parliament House and Parliament Grounds, Wellington, form the symbolic heart of government in New Zealand and the centre of the political life of the country. The monumental Edwardian Baroque structure, built 1912-1922 on an elevated site, is bookended by the Beehive and the Parliamentary Library. Parliament House has outstanding architectural, historical, and social significance. Its style is ‘the architectural expression of late British imperialism’ and the structure showcases especially high-quality craftsmanship and materials. It is associated with many prominent people who have worked within or visited it, and its physical structure records significant changes in New Zealand’s parliamentary history, most notably the move to a unicameral system of government. Parliament House and Grounds have been the focus of political celebration, remembrance, and protest since 1865, and the place where national political decisions have been made since that time. The building also has technological significance for its retrofitted base isolators. The land on which Parliament Grounds sit has a long history of human occupation. When Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama and Te Āti Awa, moved from Taranaki to escape rising uncertainty, Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour) was occupied by hapū of Ngāti Ira and other iwi. The Taranaki hapū occupied the western coast of the harbour and Ngāti Mutunga established Pipitea Pā at Haukawakawa in 1824, the gardens of which extended to what is now Parliament Grounds. As colonial Wellington grew, Māori were pressured to move further from the central town. After New Zealand’s capital was moved from Auckland to Wellington in 1865, wooden Parliamentary Buildings were built and they served until 1907 when they were destroyed by fire. This presented the Government with an opportunity to express the country’s rise in constitutional status from colony to dominion through architecture and in 1911 a competition was held for the building’s design. The winner was the New Zealand Government Architect, John Campbell, with a member of his staff, Claude Paton, and the resulting plans drew upon both this winning design and Campbell’s other design, with Charles Lawrence, which had come fourth. By the time the foundation stone was laid in 1912, cost-cutting deferred the southern wing. Shortages of labour and materials during the First World War delayed construction and it wasn’t until 1922 that the building and redesigned grounds were completed, although the Debating Chamber held the first sitting of the House of Representatives on 24 October 1918. The building was clad in Kairuru marble and Coromandel granite, signifying permanence and solidity. Large marble columns dominated the façade and the official entrance was reached by steps topped with ornamental bronze gates. Over subsequent decades, the three parliamentary buildings became dilapidated, earthquake prone, and unable to accommodate increasing members and modern services. Options considered included completing Parliament House as originally planned, even after the Executive Wing (1969-1981) was built to provide additional accommodation. Instead, a three-year project to strengthen and refurbish Parliament House began in 1992. Key rooms and their significant heritage features were restored and new spaces were created, such as a Galleria in what was previously an open courtyard between two pavilions and a conservatory. The Māori Affairs Committee Room (Matangireia), opened in 1922, was the only architectural expression of Māori engagement in the processes of political decision-making until Te Kāhui Mōuri was unveiled in 2023. A larger Māori Affairs room (Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga) was opened in 1996 in a more prominent part of the building, followed by the Pacific Room (2002), Women’s Suffrage Room (2020), and Rainbow Room (2008), the latter being the ‘physical embodiment of the Crown’s commitment to diversity LGBTIQAP+ rights.’ These symbols of unity at times contrast with onsite public petitions and protests that focus on proposed legislative changes, including homosexual law reform, civil unions, and a 23-day occupation of the grounds in 2022 in response to the Government’s COVID- 19 protection measures. Reopened on 23 June 2022, New Zealand’s Parliament Grounds remain one of the few internationally that are open to the public. Frequently used as a park, the grounds are also a place for the public to express their views and participate in public affairs, a key part of representative democracy.

Parliament House, Wellington. CC Licence 4.0 Image courtesy of | Michal Klajban | 01/01/2015 | Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons
Parliament House, Wellington. CCL 2.0 Image courtesy of | Ulrich Lange, Bochum, Germany | 20/03/2010 | Ulrich Lange - Wikimedia Commons
Parliament House, Wellington. Interior – Debating Chamber. Image courtesy of | Lighting Futures Ltd
Parliament House and Old Government House, Wellington. c.1928. CC Licence 2.0 Image courtesy of Archives New Zealand reference: AAQT 6403 2003A | Archives New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

7th July 1989

Date of Effect

7th July 1989

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Sec 1 SO 38114 (RT 10240), Wellington Land District and the building known as Parliament House thereon, including the grounds. (Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 12 November 2015).

Legal description

Sec 1 SO 38114 (RT 10240), Wellington Land District

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