Parliament Building new proposal

Adam Irish made this Official Information request to Jacinda Ardern

The request was successful.

From: Adam Irish

Dear Jacinda Ardern,

I request under the Official Information Act if Parliamentary Services considered completing the build of the original Parliament Building. The design that was deicided on by Prime Minister Joseph Ward and awarded to architect John Campbell.

The half construction of Parliament and proposed design is mix-match are not reflective of the grandeur and historical significance of the original design.

It appears Parliamentary Services is no longer held accountable under the Official Information Act for its design and financial decisions. I request that as Minister for Culture and Heritage if you could please direct your officials to provide information they provided on the importance of the historical design to Parliamentary Services. Additionally I request that the relevant budgetary oversight Ministry provide the information on the consideration and decision decision not to proceed with the original completion of parliament in this latest project proposal.

This project is of national significance and there appears to be less public engagement, oversight, and involvement than when parliament was initially constructed. I humbly ask that more information be made publicly available.

Yours faithfully,


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From: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Kia ora


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From: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, to acknowledge receipt of your Official Information Act request.

Your request will be responded to under the provisions of the Official Information Act 1982.

Yours sincerely

Dinah Okeby
Office of the Prime Minister

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From: Hannah Newport-Watson

Kia ora Adam

On behalf of Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, thank you for your Official Information Act (OIA) request received 7 June.

As your request cover matters relating to Parliament Buildings, I am transferring your request to the Office of the Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives, for their consideration and response.

Please note you are entitled to ask the Ombudsman to review this response under section 28(3) of the Act.

Kind regards,

Hannah Newport-Watson | Private Secretary - Arts, Culture and Heritage
Email [email address]

This email communication is confidential between the sender and the recipient. The intended recipient may not distribute it without the permission of the sender. If this email is received in error, it remains confidential and you may not copy, retain or distribute it in any manner. Please notify the sender immediately and erase all copies of the message and all attachments. Thank you.

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From: Adam Irish

Thanks Hannah,

Should I expect a reply from Office of the Speaker of House of Representatives? For clarification I'm primarily interested in why the new proposal:

Doesn't follow the design of the original at least for the addition to the side of parliament for eternal appearance. Having three different designs, the old Parliament Building, the Bee Hive and the new modernistic tack-on doesn't look in keeping with the rest of the building.

The new building in the car park is of no concern.

Kind regards


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From: Hannah Newport-Watson

Kia ora Adam,

Yes you can expect a response directly from the Office of the Speaker of House of Representatives.

Kind regards

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From: Rt Hon Trevor Mallard

Kia Ora Adam,


Thanks for your interest in the parliamentary precinct and the building
projects we have going on. The Prime Minister has transferred this
question to me. As you rightly point out, the Parliamentary Service is not
subject to the OIA. It does,  however, try to abide by its


I understand your primary question relates to why we have not considered
“finishing” Parliament House rather than the plans we currently have.
Although I did briefly consider this, I decided it was not worth
commissioning extra reports, given the Executive Wing or “Beehive”
currently sits where the southern half of Parliament House would need to
be constructed. The Beehive is currently rated by Heritage NZ as a
Historic Place Cat 1 building and removal of this building is not an


In September 1993 a proposal was put forward by the Government
Administration Committee to move the Beehive west towards the site of the
old Broadcasting House. The appetite for these plans lasted less than a
month as you can see from the Beehive press releases I have included
below. The reason was the astronomic cost estimate for the project and the
concern the public had about these costs.  


If we were to do attempt this project today it would be unlikely to gain a
resource consent and if it did, the engineering cost would be in the
hundreds of millions of dollars just for the move. We would then be
required to complete Parliament House with all its intricate stonework.
The overall project cost would be completely prohibitive.


One of the key points noted by the cross party committee that oversaw the
development of this project with the Parliamentary Service and its design
team, was that the precinct is a collection of buildings created by
different generations using the architectural trends of the day. With our
current project we wish to create a set of sustainable, resilient and
uniquely New Zealand buildings using New Zealand sourced products. We also
wish to co-design these buildings with manu whenua and have parliamentary
buildings that represent us as a bi-cultural nation. This goal could not
be achieved through completing an Edwardian marble and granite building.


Kind regards




Rt Hon Trevor Mallard










The Government has made an in principle decision to move the Beehive and
complete the original South Wing of Parliament House, Prime Minister Jim
Bolger announced today.

The decision followed a unanimous report by the Government Administration
Select Committee recommending that the Government investigate the
feasibility of moving the Beehive and completing Parliament House in the
1911 design.

Mr Bolger said the next step would be to obtain the necessary consents and
detailed costings to confirm the in principle decision.

"Moving the Beehive will be one of the most ambitious feats of engineering
undertaken in New Zealand's history.

"We will combine the technology and knowledge of the 21st century with the
original vision of architects John Campbell and Claud E. Paton in 1911.

"This imaginative plan will not only add to New Zealand's Parliamentary
heritage, it is literally about building on New Zealand's history.

"It is truly a project for the millennium," Mr Bolger said.



15 OCTOBER 1997


Prime Minister Jim Bolger said today it was pointless to proceed with a
feasibility study to move the Beehive and complete Parliament House in the
1911 design.

"The other political parties are now publicly failing to back their own
unanimous decision made in the Government Administration Select Committee
just three months ago.

"The multi-party members of that select committee unanimously recommended
that Government investigate the possibility of shifting the Beehive and
completing the original South Wing of Parliament House.

"The Government agreed to carry out the feasibility study but it now
appears that the other political parties are no longer keen on the idea
raising the question as to whether the Government Administration Select
Committee should revisit the issue again.

Mr Bolger said the question of how to resolve the need for more
Parliamentary accommodation remained unresolved.

"It has always been up to Parliament to decide how to provide necessary
Parliamentary accommodation.

"Therefore it is still up to Parliament to decide where we go from here."








Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives


Authorised by Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
6160, NZ




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From: Adam Irish

Dear Rt Hon Trevor Mallard,

I don't believe it is accurate to characterise our parliament building as Edwardain. Anymore than the White House or Indian National Parliament Buildings - the new and old designs. There is nothing preventing the inside being modern/ and cheaper but the outside of the add-on to the Parliament building should be consistent with the original design. In another 20 years the new proposed design will just look dated and tacky. Even the beehive hasn't aged well. Having three sets of design styles will make the parliament building look cheap. Why is there no concern for the aesthetic continuation of the building? Parliament should command respect both domestically and internationally, adequate budget should be set aside for the build. How are we expected to aid and develop other nations and allies in the Pacific if we cannot even present our own respectable parliament buildings. China donationed the African Union headquarters and we cannot even afford enough of a budget to build a respectable parliament building for ourselves. This hardly inspires confidence in our Pacific partners.

You comment on costs and deferral to manu whenua codesign, appears more an attempt to cover for and excuse the attempted cheap out on the build than a legitimate reason not to keep the extension in keeping with the rest of the building. Manu whenua have as much to do with the history of the current parliament building and its design as anyone else in NZ and want it to be impressive. The Māori parliament Buildings:

Also took inspiration from the best from around the world at the time not just wood finish. The NZ parliament building is uniquely NZ design.

Cook Island Māori have a parliament building that uses design that is not just wood based:

The NZ parliament design was meant to be grand and hold global standing. The add on to the building should follow the initial design.

Most capital building use granite and marble, for example the Japanese Parliament:

Or Fiji Parliament:

New Zealand is a multicultural nation and our parliament should communicate strength and comand respect. I believe to date a poor job has been done at ensuring the continuation of the grandeur of parliament buildings, on the basis of what looks to be to just to save a few bucks. Other then yesterday there is no cheaper time to build and we should just stomach the cost to keep the add-on in keeping with the rest of the building.

I'm sure the ancestors of the original builders and designers of Parliament will have their mana reduced by the poor design choices if the proposed build is completed in this tacty manner.
Unfortunately if what you advise is correct this lack of foresight appears to be across the house.
Democracy is important, and this decision will have a lasting impact on how NZ is perceived, however this decision has not been voted on or had input from the public. Why is this?

Yours sincerely,

Adam Irish

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