Parliamentary precinct's big makeover

17:00, Sep 01 2013
BIG PLANS: Concept sketches for a million-dollar redevelopment of Wellington Cenotaph.

Wellington's parliamentary precinct is set to get a makeover fit for a centenary commemoration.

A new $1.16 million proposal will turn the Cenotaph into a focal point of ceremony and a showpiece public area close to Parliament, in time for the 2015 Anzac commemorations.

Wellington City Council's strategy and policy committee will debate the designs later this week.

SHOWPIECE: A revamped precinct would include a water feature and a grand staircase.

The redeveloped precinct will focus on the Cenotaph, creating a "grand staircase" between the monument and the Beehive and a ceremonial space around it.

"The grandeur of the Parliamentary Buildings is currently not reflected in the surrounding spaces," a report to councillors said. "The area around the Cenotaph [is] currently in a cluttered state and does not represent the importance of this monument or the entrance to Parliament . . . [it] appears more like the rear of Parliament than the front."

Parliamentary Service will need to approve the development of the staircase from the Beehive, with final signoff from the Speaker of the House. It could contribute to the cost of the steps, which would be on its land, but that would also need approval.


The council had earmarked $1.5m for the project out of its Long-Term Plan but that has since been cut to $1.16m. The council would fully fund the redevelopment of the Cenotaph and the area around it into a "square", while the Wellington Sculpture Trust would need to fund the planned water feature.

Council built environment portfolio leader Iona Pannett said anything which improved access to Parliament and the look of the city was good.

She hoped Parliamentary Service and the sculpture trust would contribute. "We have a long-term commitment to making more of the parliamentary precinct," she said.

"To most people it sounds like a massive amount of money, but $1 million for an urban development project doesn't go that far. It is being done to a tight budget . . . anything we can do to help the city shine is worth it."

Wellington Sculpture Trust chairwoman Sue Elliott said it was keen to be involved from the start of the project and make the installation site-specific. The trust would be interested in helping to fund the work.

"The idea is to work with them early in the piece and select someone who can work to ensure it's an artwork which is absolutely right for it."


The $1.16 million project has four key elements:

The Square: The area around the Cenotaph will be cleared to create a ceremonial space.

The Steps: The current stairs off Bowen St will be replaced with a "grand staircase" to open up the Cenotaph to Parliament Buildings. Parliamentary Service would need to contribute to the cost and approve any changes.

The Stream: A water feature will be designed and built to recall the old Wai Piro stream, which used to run down where Bowen St is today. Funding would be needed from the Wellington Sculpture Trust and is being sought.

The Cenotaph: Broken parts of the cladding replaced and, potentially, concrete paving replaced with natural stone.

The Dominion Post