The ‘Beehive’ is the popular name for the Executive Wing of the parliamentary complex because of the building’s shape. This is where the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers have offices, and where the Cabinet meets.
Sir Basil Spence, a British architect, designed a concept for the Beehive during a visit to Wellington in 1964. In his concept, rooms and offices radiated from a central core. This concept was developed by the Government Architect of the Ministry of Works.
The Beehive was built in stages between 1969 and 1979, when the first parliamentary offices moved in.
The Beehive is 72 metres tall. It has 10 floors above ground and four floors below. It is connected to Bowen House, where many members of Parliament and Ministers have offices, by an underground walkway that runs underneath Bowen Street.
This is where Parliament’s Visitor Centre is based and where public tours depart. The airy double-storey space features wall panels of New Zealand grown macrocarpa , Takaka marble clad columns, a backlit translucent onyx wall at one end, and opaque glazed walls at the opposite end. The core of the building is decorated with marble floors, stainless steel mesh wall panels, and a translucent glass ceiling.
The Banquet Hall, on the first floor of the Beehive, is the largest function room in the parliamentary complex. Guests reach the Banquet Hall entrance from an open marble staircase with bronze balustrades that leads from the ground floor foyer.
The Banquet Hall is a semi-circular space, designed to be big enough to host state banquets with up to 300 guests. On the inner wall there is a large three-dimensional mural by John Boys Drawbridge (1930–2005). The mural portrays the atmosphere and sky of New Zealand using enamel gloss paint on aluminium angles. It is one of the artist’s most significant works.
The décor of the Banquet Hall is dominated by Takaka marble on the lower walls and columns. The tongue and groove floor is made from tawa, a New Zealand native timber, laid in segments radiating from the core of the building.
National Crisis Management Centre
The National Crisis Management Centre, in the Beehive basement, is the Government’s command centre in the event of a major emergency or security threat. The Centre includes kitchens, bunkrooms, and other facilities so that people can support themselves to live and work here for extended periods of time.
There are special facilities in the Beehive for members of Parliament and for Ministers. These include several function rooms, a theatrette, gym and swimming pool.
An education space set out to mimic the debating chamber is where education visits are hosted by Parliament’s Education Services.
The parliamentary catering service, traditionally known as Bellamy’s, is also based in the Beehive. It caters for functions for members of Parliament and staff at a number of dining rooms and function venues in the Beehive and elsewhere in the parliamentary complex.