History of Old Government House

From the seat of government, to becoming a vice-regal residence to the Staff Common Room club, Old Government House has a rich history.

Old Government House (1856), corner of Princes Street and Waterloo Quadrant, was the first mansion of its kind built in New Zealand. Classical in style with much of the timber façade cut to resemble stone, it was the seat of government until 1865 when the capital was moved to Wellington.

For the next century it was Auckland's vice-regal residence. Royalty stayed there six times and the present Queen broadcast her Christmas speech to the Commonwealth from upstairs in 1953.

Since being transferred to the University in 1969, the house has been the Staff Common Room Club. It contains a Council reception suite, flats for visiting academics, rooms for the Federation of Graduate Women and a lecture theatre.

Some of the trees in the grounds match Old Government House for antiquity. Two oaks at the north western corner were probably grown from acorns brought from the Great Forest at Windsor and the Royal Oak at Boscobel, Shropshire, where Charles II hid after the battle of Worcester in 1651. The big coral tree and the Norfolk pine at the southern edge of the lawn are said to have been planted by Sir George Grey during his second term as governor (1861-1867).