As I mentioned in my last post, this weekend was the 150th anniversary (or birthday) of Wellington becoming the capital of New Zealand. To be precise, the first time the New Zealand Parliament sat in Wellington was on 25th July 1865. There has been a weekend of celebrations, from a concert and light show outside Parliament last night to many pubilc buildings opening their doors, to museums and theatres offering a chance to see behind the scenes.
The first capital of New Zealand was Russell, which we visited in 2014 and which you can read about here. It was moved to Auckland during the 1850s, before settling in Wellington, a more central position in the country. At the time, for South Island members of parliament, the journey to Auckland was quite a trip, and could take anything from between 12 days to 2 months! As the populations in Canterbury and Otago on South Island grew, it became necessary to move the capital to a more central location. An independent commission chose Wellington after considering other places such as Picton and Nelson in the north of South Island. The move from Auckland took place in early 1865, at a total cost of £54,665 (nearly NZ$6 million).
The iconic Beehive (the Executive Wing of Parliament)
So today, we set off for a walk into town to try and see a few things as part of the celebration. Well, the queue outside Premier House, the Prime Minister’s Wellington residence, was rather off-putting, so we carried on down into town. We popped into the National Archives for a quick lunch (excellent tomato and coriander soup) and look around. I had hoped to see the original Treaty of Waitangi, but that is off for repairs (I think. You can read about our trip to Waitangi here). Instead, we had a look at the small exhibition of documents, which included maps, the original plan for the Parliament building and a couple of patents such as this one, below, for Hokey Pokey.
The National Archives
William Hatton’s recipe for Hokey Pokey from 1896
Our main goal was Parliament, but the first available places were not available until 3pm. There are tours available normally, but this was a slightly different one and we had really hoped to be able to see some interesting stuff. Our other idea was to go to the law courts, but they were only open on Saturday. We walked up to the Parliamentary Library, though it too was not open.
Commemorating Women’s Suffrage in the grounds of Parliament
Entrance to the Parliamentary Library
We did however pop into the Cenotaph, which is next to Parliament and which was open for a rare look inside.
The Cenotaph 1
The Cenotaph 2
To be honest, we really hadn’t planned things properly. There was a huge list of things on, and a free bus to transport people around the city to the participating venues, so a little bit of forethought would have made a difference.
Wellington is a great wee city and I really enjoy living here. There is always something going on and it is easy to get about. It is in a beautiful location, if on occasion, a bit windy and sometimes shaky too. I have posted so many pictures of Wellington on this blog, that I hope regular readers will have a good sense of what it is like – nothing beats it on a good day.
Birthday greeting from the cable car
Post script – it once snowed in Wellington. Check this out to see what happened…..