Serving Parliament

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Parliament and its members need many staff — to supply information, record what goes on, and provide much-needed food and drink. The history of the place is also the story of those who serve Parliament.

Parliamentary staff, circa 1900s. Enlarge image

Parliamentary staff, ca. 1900s. Parliamentary Collection.

Source: Parliamentary Service.

Clerks and Legislative Department

New Zealand’s first Parliament had Clerks for the House of Representatives and the Legislative Council. These Clerks advised on constitutional and procedural matters and kept records.

The role of the Clerk of the House of Representatives was more demanding because the House did most work. From 1912, he headed the Legislative Department, which provided services to Parliament as a whole under the direction of a Minister in the Government.

Office of the Clerk and Parliamentary Service

As Parliament grew, the Legislative Department grew too, eventually becoming a complicated structure. In the 1980s, the Labour Government questioned the appropriateness of having a Minister responsible for providing services to Parliament.

In 1985, the Government replaced the Legislative Department with the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Service. The Speaker became responsible for services to Parliament. The Clerk’s role returned to one of constitutional support to the House of Representatives and its committees. The Parliamentary Service took on responsibility for other services, including the library and Bellamy’s.

Library

Parliament’s first library, in Auckland, was housed in a cramped room. After Parliament moved to Wellington in 1865, the library grew rapidly, overflowing into spaces such as the ladies’ tearoom! It soon became the most important library in the country.

A fireproof library was built in 1899 — the only building spared when a fire destroyed Parliament in 1907.

Before 1985, the library was known as the General Assembly Library but is now called the Parliamentary Library. Impressively renovated today, the library continues to provide Parliament with vital information, increasingly in electronic form.

To read more about the library see the History of the Parliamentary Library link in the related documents panel.

Bellamy’s

New Zealand’s first members of Parliament needed somewhere to eat and drink — a ‘Bellamy’s’ like Britain had. The name stuck, and New Zealand alone retains that name today.

By the 1880s, Bellamy’s had evolved into the country’s finest restaurant and bar — and a regular ‘watering hole’ for members who liked a drink.

Today, Bellamy’s caters to a wider range of people than in the past. The days of elite splendour have gone.