The Chamber, where the House of Representatives sits to debate bills and consider parliamentary business, is at the heart of Parliament House. The Chamber has a raised roof above galleries that circle the debating floor below. It is grandly furnished with historically significant artefacts, rimu timbers, thick green carpets and green leather seats, and a series of backlit stained glass panels.
The Chair is the focus of the Chamber. The Speaker chairs meetings of the House of Representatives from this seat which was given to New Zealand by the British Parliament. There is a British coat-of-arms on the wall above the Chair that symbolises New Zealand's relationship with Great Britain.
The Table of the House
The Clerk of the House and the Clerk’s assistants sit at a long 'Table of the House' in front of the Chair. The Mace, which is the symbol of the Speaker’s authority, is placed on the Table whilst the Speaker chairs meetings of the House. Documents that the House is considering are also placed on the Table.
Seats for members of Parliament
Seats in the Chamber are arranged in pairs, in a U-shape that faces the Chair. Each member of Parliament has their own seat.
- Members representing Government parties sit on the Speaker’s right.
- Members representing Opposition parties sit on the Speaker‘s left.
Front-bench members (spokespeople) of the Government and the Opposition face each other from the front rows of seats on each side of the Chamber. The distance between the two front benches follows the British House of Commons tradition — they are two-and-a-half sword-lengths apart.
Galleries for the public and the press
The Chamber is surrounded on its upper level by the galleries, divided into three distinct sections:
- The public galleries are on the left and right-hand sides of the Chamber.
- The Speaker's gallery, for the Speaker’s special guests, is at the far end of the Chamber, facing the Speaker.
- The press gallery is behind the Speaker.