As you'll see, there are a few squares of dead grass, but despite its reluctant role as a campsite for protesters, the building is intact, and reopened to students on 21 March 2022.
While the pandemic means that we don't have everybody back in-house, our staff continue to provide top-quality academic instruction to undergraduate and postgraduate students.
If you attended Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Law School in the past 25 years, you may be interested in how the Old Government Buildings have fared through the unrest of the past month.
Acting Dean of Law Professor Petra Butler says, “We are enjoying that OGB is open again for us to work, teach, learn and to provide a space to meet.”
This entrance contains a graduation photo of every law class that has graduated between December 2001 and December 2019.
“We have felt the strength of our alumni supporting us every time we use the northern door of this building,” adds Petra.
To reclaim our OGB and celebrate the 125th anniversary of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, we asked some of the staff that work at the Law school to share some of their favourite spaces.
Professor Richard Boast's favourite part of the OGB is the Law library. He has penned this poem to celebrate it.
OGB, Shall I compare thee to High Kelburn or yet to the Thriving Hub?
Thou art more lovely and more exquisite.
Rough winds may shake the dour towers of Rankine Brown.
And summer's cricket at Boyde-fielde lasteth so brief a space
But thy eternal kauri panels shall ne'er fade
Nor shall the gloried tomes of the law library, my favourite space, e'er be dimmed.
The stencilling of flax and roses around the main kauri entranceway, a space used to greet dignitaries and students alike, continues to glow golden. According to a historical plaque, restoration of one panel in June 1995 revealed that there were, in all, seven layers of paint and varnish on the panels, dating back to the building’s construction. Only two of the panels are fully restored, and protected by glass – the others are copies.
Professor Petra Butler, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Law says her favourite part of the Old Government Buildings is the staircase.
"The elegance and effortlessness with which the stairs connect the different floors is a metaphor for how the law should support our lives and enable us to achieve what we set out to achieve.”
Professor Gordon Anderson also loves the stairs:
“My favourite part of OGB is the stairs to the third floor which I have walked up at least three to four times a day for most of the last 20 years. Apart from keeping one fit, the climb always provided a great glance of the passing seasons and years out the windows as you ascended, and it was hard to feel depressed at the end of any day when you got to walk down such a magnificent stairway in such a magnificent building.”
"However the most memorable time on the stairway was the day I got married to Jane Bryson (now Acting Dean at Wellington School of Business and Government) and we took one of the wedding photos on the stairs."
Professor Victoria Stace loves a specific part of the staircase:
“My favourite part of the OGB is the curved windows that look out on the Lambton Quay side of the building as you go up the big wooden staircase. In summer you get the vivid orange flowering gum framed in these windows. In winter in early evening you get the lights from the street in Lambton Quay (streetlights and car lights) framed in these windows. During the protest they provided an excellent vantage point from which to quietly observe the backyard goings on of the occupiers camped in the grounds.”
Senior academic administator and Examination coordinator Josie Henning enjoys the vaults in the OGB. There are eight vaults in the OGB, but her favourite is on the second floor.
"My favourite part of OGB is the vaults, specifically “my” exams vault on the second floor. I’ve spent a lot of time in there over the years. The dust, solid stone walls, iron bars, and the heavy metal vault door with the special key are unique. I couldn’t forget where I am even if I tried. And, it’s a really safe place when there is an earthquake (speaking from experience)."
The Old Cabinet Room, where New Zealand governments began meeting in 1876, has a rich floral-patterned carpet. The sideboard has a plate on it indicating it was gifted to James H. Pope Esquire, from his friends, the Maori (sic) school teachers, in January 1904. Pope was known to Māori communities as Te Popi, and was a significant figure in the history of then "native schools", earning the respect of Māori and Pākehā alike.
Dr Grant Morris' favourite part of working in the OGB is its history:
“My favourite part of working in OGB is the history. As a NZ historian, I love the fact that we work in a building where so much of NZ history was made. OGB has housed Premiers, Cabinet Meetings and, in its early days, most of NZ's public service.
"I can work around the building and see the Old Cabinet Room, the balcony where royalty would watch formal processions and see the entry to the basement where the Treaty of Waitangi was stored, lost, and then found again. We are so fortunate to work in this building. It is living history."
A reasonably new addition to the hallway are two carvings framing the library entrance, which the faculty have been honoured to protect and house on behalf of Te Herenga Waka marae. The carvings were previously in Matariki at 46 Kelburn Parade. Dr Takirirangi Smith is the tohunga whakairo—master carver. The carvings depict Rangitane and Ngāti Kahukura-awhitia rangatira from Wairarapa (Te Rerewa on the right) and Heretaunga (Te Rangitāwhanga on the left). Te Rangitāwhanga is a nephew of Te Rerewa.
Kiakiaki Māori Engagement Adviser Luanne Collier's vision is that these tīpuna whakairo will provide a sense of whanaungatanga (connection/belonging) for our tauira.