New Zealand High Commission Canberra, Australia


The accommodation in the Patents Office and later in the MLC Building had been envisaged as temporary measure, as the New Zealand authorities had wished for some time to build a self-contained Chancery which would not only house adequately New Zealand diplomatic staff but also function as a physical statement of New Zealand’s commitment to the Trans-Tasman relationship.

A formal lease was taken out on the Commonwealth Avenue site in 1967. This is a prestigious location in the Parliamentary Triangle, near to the new Parliament House and on Commonwealth Avenue, which has since become one of the principal arteries of Canberra.

On 4 June 1970 the New Zealand Prime Minister, Sir Keith Holyoake, laid the foundation stone of the new building in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton, the Minister of External Affairs, Mr William McMahon, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Gough Whitlam. However, construction was delayed and it was not until April 1972 that the contract for the building of the Chancery was let, to AV Jennings, for a contract price of A$843 600.

On 13 November 1973 the new Chancery was opened by Mr Norman Kirk, Prime Minister of New Zealand, during his first official visit to Australia. By this time Labour Governments had been elected to office on both sides of the Tasman and thus the Australian Prime Minister at the Ceremony was Mr Gough Whitlam. In his opening remarks, Mr Kirk praised the building as “this piece of New Zealand territory in the heart of Australia", and praised the design and workmanship of the new building, noting that it symbolised “the importance which we attach to our relationship with Australia".

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