Old Government Buildings, Wellington

Old Government Buildings, Wellington

The Government Buildings Historic Reserve or Old Government Buildings, was built in 1876. It is the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere, and the second-largest wooden building in the world.

It was built to house New Zealand's public service, and now houses the Victoria University of Wellington's Law School. The building, is classified as a "Category I" historic place, that is places of special or outstanding historic or cultural heritage significance or value.

The building was commissioned in the early 1870s by the Fox Ministry, partially in anticipation of the abolition of the provincial governments. It was originally planned to have the building constructed in concrete and timber, but the cost of concrete at the time led to a decision to build in timber alone. The Italianate, Neo-Renaissance style was usually the domain of stone buildings, thus the building is designed to mimic stone.

As an important symbol of nationhood, the building was constructed to resemble an Italian stone palace to help convey its strength and stability in the expanding empire. The timber is native kauri, which could not be replicated because New Zealand's remaining public kauri forests are permanently protected. If the building had been constructed out of stone as planned, it may not have survived subsequent earthquakes, as it is situated near a major fault line. The architect was William Clayton.

The building has 143 rooms, 64 toilets, 126 fireplaces and 22 chimneys. When it opened in 1876, after 22 months of construction, and at a cost of £39 000, it was easily the largest building in the country and is now considered to be one of New Zealand's most important historic buildings.

The government buildings were formally reopened in January 1996 after the Law Faculty of Victoria University signed a 50-year tenancy that year and became its new occupants. Its restoration is considered a landmark government-initiated heritage conservation project. The grounds are open to the public, and contain examples of rare native New Zealand flora.[5] The public may view the displays on the ground floor and the Cabinet room on the first floor, but the rest of the building is leased to the Victoria University School of Law.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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Old Government Buildings on Map

Sight Name: Old Government Buildings
Sight Location: Wellington, New Zealand (See walking tours in Wellington)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Wellington, New Zealand

Create Your Own Walk in Wellington

Create Your Own Walk in Wellington

Creating your own self-guided walk in Wellington is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Wellington Introduction Walking Tour

Wellington Introduction Walking Tour

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and the country's second-largest city after Auckland. It also has the distinction of being the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

The city was designed by Captain William Mein Smith in 1840. He was the first Surveyor General for Edward Wakefield's New Zealand Company. The name comes from Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Historical Buildings Walking Tour

Historical Buildings Walking Tour

When immigrants first arrived in New Zealand they brought their beliefs. Most of the first settlers were Christians. The second church built in Wellington, in 1855, still stands today and is a great historic site. This self-guided tour will help you explore the churches and other religious monuments of Wellington.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles