Parliamentary Precinct to get a boost?

Alex Fensome at the Dominion Post reports:

Wellington’s parliamentary precinct is set to get a makeover fit for a centenary commemoration.

A new $1.16 million proposal will turn the Cenotaph into a focal point of ceremony and a showpiece public area close to Parliament, in time for the 2015 Anzac commemorations.

Wellington City Council’s strategy and policy committee will debate the designs later this week.

The redeveloped precinct will focus on the Cenotaph, creating a “grand staircase” between the monument and the Beehive and a ceremonial space around it.

“The grandeur of the Parliamentary Buildings is currently not reflected in the surrounding spaces,” a report to councillors said. “The area around the Cenotaph [is] currently in a cluttered state and does not represent the importance of this monument or the entrance to Parliament . . . [it] appears more like the rear of Parliament than the front.”

Parliamentary Service will need to approve the development of the staircase from the Beehive, with final signoff from the Speaker of the House. It could contribute to the cost of the steps, which would be on its land, but that would also need approval.

The council had earmarked $1.5m for the project out of its Long-Term Plan but that has since been cut to $1.16m. The council would fully fund the redevelopment of the Cenotaph and the area around it into a “square”, while the Wellington Sculpture Trust would need to fund the planned water feature.

Council built environment portfolio leader Iona Pannett said anything which improved access to Parliament and the look of the city was good.

She hoped Parliamentary Service and the sculpture trust would contribute. “We have a long-term commitment to making more of the parliamentary precinct,” she said.

“To most people it sounds like a massive amount of money, but $1 million for an urban development project doesn’t go that far. It is being done to a tight budget . . . anything we can do to help the city shine is worth it.”

Wellington Sculpture Trust chairwoman Sue Elliott said it was keen to be involved from the start of the project and make the installation site-specific. The trust would be interested in helping to fund the work.

“The idea is to work with them early in the piece and select someone who can work to ensure it’s an artwork which is absolutely right for it.”

I think this is a great idea. I have always believed that more could be done to develop a truly “Constitutional Precinct” for the city and New Zealand, much like Washington D.C and its landmarks and the tourism that comes with it, that celebrates, promotes and enables easy access to New Zealand’s legislative, executive, historical, and judicial institutions, as well as places like National Library, Turnball House, the Reserve Bank and its museum, Archives New Zealand, etc. This would be a good start.

Hopefully all parties buy into the idea so it sees the light of day. Well done to the council and Iona Pannett for their work on this so far.

I’d love to hear the thoughts of council candidates (particularly mayoral and Lambton Ward candidates) on this project.

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3 responses to “Parliamentary Precinct to get a boost?

  1. This is the same Iona Pannett who got all upset about the National War Memorial? Must be election year!

  2. Excellent plan. In two years, it will be the 150th anniversary of Wellington becoming the capital and we need to make far more of our status, not least because of its tourism potential. There are very few indicators that we’re the capital. Should have more statues of former Prime Ministers: Michael Savage is a glaring omission, as the 1st Labour PM & father of the welfare state; Julius Vogel, as the driving force behind our roading and railway infrastructure; David Lange?? Currently, there are statues of four (Ballance, Fraser, Seddon & Holyoake). Plus people who’ve changed our nation such as Kate Sheppard. Also commemorative plaques on significant buildings such as the site of the old Terrace jail, where Peter Fraser was imprisoned for sedition in 1916.

  3. Sounds like a great idea to me. In the grand scheme of things it is a very small cost. If it is able to be done in time for the 2015 ANZAC commemorations, it would be a big boost to Wellington’s prestige as New Zealand’s capital city.

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