New Menzies building opens

16:00, Dec 01 2012
Menzies building, Invercargill (1965)
The architects of the new government building took the city into the brave new world of glass-walled office blocks in a radical departure from the town's traditionally sold brick and mortar.

From Sod Huts to Modern Skyline

This morning, on a site occupied by sod huts more than 100 years ago, the new £161,000 Government building named after Southland's founder Dr J. R. Menzies, will be opened by the Attorney-General Mr Hanan.

Three years in the building, the six-story premises have been planned and built to provide improved accommodation for eight Government departments, enabling these departments to service the public more efficiently.

Menzies building, Invercargill (1965)
The contruction of The Menzies Building changed Invercargill's skyline.

The new building illustrates that Government departments recognize the need to keep abreast of modern advancement, and it is certain that both staff and public will appreciate their new surroundings.

The building was designed by the Ministry of Works, Dunedin, and construction was supervised by the Ministry of Works, Invercargill.

The contractor was the Fletcher Construction Company.


Replacing the old Government building on the site demolished in 1961, the new premises, from the pavement to the tip of the high frequency aerial on the roof are 148ft high - believed to be the highest point in Invercargill.

Gross floor space is 73, 600 square feet and net office space, 45,000 square feet.

Construction involved a concrete central cone containing vertical circulation and services.

The building was designed to withstand earthquake stresses, and there are reinforced concrete perimeter frames and floor slabs.

The slabs extend two feet beyond the window walls to facilitate window cleaning.

Office areas are subdivided by timber frame partitions erected between floors and suspended ceilings, which can be dismantled to provide easy access electrical and other services.

Central heating is provided by continuous hot water convectors under all windows, the water being heated by dual purpose gas or oil-fired boilers in the penthouse.

The ground floor of the building is occupied by the Health Department's clinical services, and the Social Security Department, which is self-contained with a separate entrance from the Crescent. The main entrance faces the railway station.

Also on the ground floor are Internal Affairs Department, messenger and cleaning services and the Ministry of Works land purchase offices.

On the first floor is the Department of Labour, the Justice Department Lands and Deeds branch and accommodation for Social Security files.

The second floor is occupied by the Health Department, and the third by the New Zealand Forest Service.

The Lands and Survey Department is on the fourth floor and fifth floors but shares the fourth with the Valuation Department.

The sixth floor is occupied by the Agriculture Department.

Also in the building is a staff room and attached kitchen, a sick bay, conference and committee room - all on the second floor.

All departments have moved in to their new offices except Social Security, which cannot make the shift until special cabinets arrive to accommodate the department's subscribers' filed - 28,000.

This morning's opening ceremony will be at 11.15 and Mr Hanan will unveil the plaque.

The Southland Times