Panorama: Parliament grounds from the front

Panorama of Parliament from the front.

Panorama of Parliament Buildings and grounds with (from left to right) the Beehive, Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library.

Related commentary by John O'Sullivan, former general manager of the Parliamentary Service:

Parliament buildings from Kate Sheppard apartments.

Situated on a commanding site in the heart of Wellington city, Parliament Buildings and its grounds occupy some 4 1/2 hectares. The Speaker is responsible for the control and management of the buildings and the grounds. The main buildings on the site from right to left are:

  • The Parliamentary Library. This is the oldest building on the site having been completed in 1899. It is a masonry building in Victorian Gothic style and was fully restored and strengthened against earthquakes as part of the major refurbishment project of 1992–96.
  • Parliament House is to the left of the library. The construction of Parliament House commenced in 1912 following the disastrous fire in December 1907 which completely destroyed the wooden Parliament Buildings which adjoined the library building. That building survived because of its masonry structure. Only the entrance portico and the northern wing of the new Parliament House were completed and construction ceased in 1922. A matching southern wing was never proceeded with. Any opportunity to complete Parliament House was precluded by the decision in 1965 to go ahead with the building of the executive wing.
  • [The executive wing] is to the left of Parliament House. Generally known as the Beehive, this building houses ministers and their offices as well as public function areas and Parliament's catering facilities. The Beehive was built in stages over the period of 1969–79. The old wooden Government House, which had housed Parliament after the 1907 fire until Parliament House was occupied in 1918, was demolished to make way for the Beehive.
  • Bowen House, the multi-storey building to the left of the Beehive, is also used but not owned by Parliament, housing members, staff and support agencies.
  • The red-roofed four-storey building facing Parliament grounds is the historic wooden Government Buildings, built on reclaimed land in 1876. That building once housed all of the central government departments and also some ministerial offices and the Cabinet Office.

The layout of the grounds of Parliament is largely on the plan developed for the construction of the new Parliament House following the 1907 fire. The grounds were upgraded as part of the major strengthening and refurbishment work on Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library completed in 1996. The grounds are accessible to the public and the lawns are a popular lunchtime place for office workers from the adjoining buildings. The grounds have also been the site of many public demonstrations and national events over the years.