View of the galleries of the debating chamber of the House of Representatives. Members of the press and the public sit here. The wooden decorations around the base of the gallery commemorate major battles in which New Zealanders fought. The green wreaths, made of bronze, were erected in 1993 to mark 100 years of women having the vote in New Zealand.
Reporting of Parliament
Newspapers have reported on Parliament since its 1854 opening. By the 1870s, the press gallery had become a powerful influence.
Over the years, members of Parliament have sometimes clashed with the gallery over its reports - but they have disliked being ignored too. Now, politicians have their own press staff, and they generally regard the media as an important resource.
In 1867, Parliament established Hansard to overcome biased newspaper reporting. This independent parliamentary reporting service was among the first of its kind worldwide.
Hansard reporters originally had to pen shorthand at up to 180 words per minute - without mistakes! Nowadays, they make digital recordings of parliamentary debates.
The public has always had the right to watch Parliament, but the 'rules of observation' have changed over time.
The public area was called the strangers' gallery for many years. Observers could be removed if members of Parliament wished it.
Until 1945, women had to sit in a separate ladies' gallery - opposite the Speaker so that they wouldn't distract members when speaking. Politicians, however, still played to the females above.
The galleries were an important part of Wellington's social scene. Entry to the public gallery was on a first-come, first-served basis, but entry to the ladies' gallery was by ticket - each one highly prized.