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New Zealand Parliament

Usher of the Black Rod knocks on the door of the House of Representatives

Usher of the Black Rod knocks on the door of the House of Representatives. Source: Photography by Woolf.

9 December 2008
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State Opening of Parliament ceremony

This morning His Excellency the Governor-General, Hon Anand Satyanand PCNZM, QSO, came to Parliament House to deliver the Speech from the Throne in a ceremony known as the State Opening of Parliament.

His Excellency was greeted on the forecourt by the Mana Whenua and a tri-service guard of honour gave the Royal salute. There was also a 21-gun salute from Point Jerningham while the Governor-General inspected the guard of honour. He was then led into Parliament House by the Usher of the Black Rod.

After His Excellency took his seat in the Legislative Council Chamber, he sent the Usher of the Black Rod to the Debating Chamber to summon the members of the House of Representatives. The door of the Debating Chamber is traditionally locked on this occasion. This is to prevent interference in House proceedings by the Sovereign. Black Rod knocked on the door before being recognised and admitted.

Black Rod commanded the attendance of members in the Council Chamber. They filed through in procession led by the Serjeant-at-Arms and the Speaker. His Excellency then delivered the Speech from the Throne, setting out the Government’s policy and legislative intentions.

This completes the opening formalities of the 49th Parliament. The House can now conduct its usual business. Early priority is given to the Address in Reply debate. This is a wide ranging debate of 19 hours, ending in the House adopting a formal address to the Governor-General in reply to the Speech from the Throne. The debate also provides the first opportunity for a confidence vote. This is a vote that tests whether the House has confidence in the Government.