The Legislative Council Chamber is the room where New Zealand's Upper House (called the Legislative Council) met until January 1951 when the Upper House was abolished.
The Legislative Council Chamber in history
The Legislative Council Chamber was in regular use from 1865, when Parliament relocated from Auckland to Wellington, until 1951 when the Legislative Council was abolished.
The Legislative Council had its own Speaker and a number of appointed members. It was the New Zealand equivalent of the British House of Lords. Originally it had 14 members rising to 54 members by the time it was abolished.
The Legislative Council Chamber today
The Legislative Council Chamber is a very grand room surrounded on its upper floor by galleries similar to those above the Chamber of the House of Representatives. The room features a puriri canopy and Italian marble pillars. The walls are panelled in varnished rimu and a deep red carpet covers the floor. Puriri and tawa are native New Zealand timbers.
The Legislative Council Chamber’s most important role today is as the venue for the State Opening of Parliament after each general election.
During this ceremony the Governor-General, who represents the Sovereign in New Zealand, summons the newly elected members of Parliament to the Legislative Council Chamber to hear the Speech from the Throne. The Speech from the Throne sets out what the newly elected Government plans to do during its term in office. It marks the official start of the new term of Parliament.
The Legislative Council Chamber is also used for a wide range of functions hosted by members of Parliament.
The public can visit the Legislative Council Chamber as part of a guided tour of Parliament from the Visitor Centre.