On Sunday, the New Zealand Parliament had its annual open day. This allows the general public to go into areas of the parliamentary buildings that are normally closed to them.
We trotted down via Lambton Quay, and entered the parliamentary buildings via the Bowen House entrance, which is directly under Nicola’s office at No. 1 The Terrace. There were various exhibits about the history of Parliament, and of committee rooms which were not particularly noteworthy. One of the activities was to transcribe a ministerial speech via headphones, where my speed and agility on the keyboard were much admired by other members of the public and the (volunteer) staff. They said I could get a job there, but I think they were joking…!
We then went into the Beehive, as the newer part of the parliamentary building is popularly known:
Inside the Beehive we saw the banqueting hall, where a band was playing, so we took the opportunity to foxtrot and cha-cha-cha to the best of our ability.
The next stage of the tour took us through to Parliament House, which is a more traditionally-styled building. It contains the Debating Chamber and Legislative Council Chamber – the actual parliamentary parts of the building. Each MP is allocated a specific seat – a seating plan was provided – but sadly we weren’t allowed to sit in them. There was also a re-enactment of the opening ceremony of parliament, very much based on the
model, with Black Rod banging his rod on the door three times and demanding entry. Naughty boy Chris Carter has to sit at the back of the class. Westminster
The final part of the tour is to the parliamentary Library, which is housed in the oldest part of the buildings. As we got to the end of the tour, there was a quiz on a computer, where I scored 94% (got one question out of 16 wrong), and was rewarded for my efforts with a NZ flag pin! I shall wear it proudly next time I’m in the vicinity of parliamentary folk.