A fresh coat of paint for historic icon

Don Herron —  29/02/2016

Dulux is providing support for a complete exterior repaint of the Old Government Buildings in Wellington – the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Old Government Buildings entrance.

Old Government Buildings entrance

Completed in 1876, Wellington’s Government Buildings Historic Reserve once housed our entire public service and, for 56 years, was the home of Ministers’ offices and the Cabinet room. It’s one of the Department’s Icon Heritage Sites – special places that tell a wide range of stories about our national identity.

Now Dulux is helping the Department preserve this historic place by supporting a 16-month project to repaint the exterior of the building.

Dulux is supplying the paint, paintwork specifications and will provide quality assurance on the paint application. Commercial painters Carus Group Ltd are undertaking the painting work. The project will see the paintwork restored using the same classic historic colour scheme it sports today.

Throughout the project (which is expected to run until April 2016) the public will still be able to access the building.

A piece of architectural history

Construction of the building was completed in 1876, which marks a significant moment in New Zealand’s political history. Provincial governments were disbanded that year and the wooden building became home to the newly formed central government.

Flowering tree outside Old Government Buildings. Photo by Lance Andrews | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Government Buildings were completed in 1876

The building is known for its extensive use of kauri, one of New Zealand’s largest native trees, which is now under permanent protection. The government at the time designed it to be similar in style to an Italian palace to portray our young country’s strength and stability. However, it was built out of native timber and not out of stone. The Government didn’t want to be seen as spending too much money, so the inexpensive option of native timber was used instead.

Today, the building sits in the heart of the capital at 15 Lambton Quay, surrounded by the central business district and directly across the road from the Beehive. A large part of the building is currently leased to Victoria University’s Faculty of Law, though the ground floor and Cabinet room are open to the public.

The view of Old Government Buildings from a nearby building.

The view from a nearby building

Take a tour

Guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays at 11.00am and 2.00pm during the summer months (up until Easter).

These tours take in all the beauty and the many different features of the Old Government Buildings, including the ‘hanging’ staircase, the birdcage lift, the Cabinet room and other features restored in DOC’s 1994-95 restoration project.

The free-hanging staircase in the Government Buildings in Wellington.

The free-hanging staircase in the Government Buildings in Wellington

These tours start at the main entrance on Lambton Quay and are free. Bookings are not required.

For more information, members of the public can contact the Pōneke/Wellington Visitor Centre or by visiting the DOC website.

Don Herron

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Don works in the Poneke/Wellington Department of Conservation Visitor Centre in Wellington city. Don loves tramping, riding his mountain bike, travelling and planting natives in his garden at home.