Mayor Celia Wade-Brown (centre) with Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon
Mayor Wade-Brown says the open day is a great opportunity to learn more about how to get involved in local democracy in a relaxed atmosphere. "As well as seeing our wonderful spaces and learning a bit of history, you can also find out more about how your Council can work for you."
Visitors will be entertained with stories of the personalities and politics behind one of Wellington's most interesting buildings by Gabor Toth - a local and New Zealand history specialist from Wellington City Libraries.
Gabor is particularly interested in the role the Council has played in helping Wellington become what it is today.
"Some of our earlier mayors must have had extraordinary vision and incredible drive to push through what were some of the biggest projects in Wellington's history," he says.
"Things like the installation of our first proper sewerage system in the 1890s and the electrification of the tramway network in the early 20th century put a huge strain on the Council's finances, but the city wouldn't be the same without them today."
As well as viewing a fascinating collection of art and artefacts, visitors will be able to tour the restored interiors of the Mayor's Office and the grand Council Chamber, where portraits of all 31 mayors are on display - right back to George Hunter, who became Wellington's first mayor in 1842.
According to Gabor, some of Wellington's past mayors managed to extend their influence by also becoming members of Parliament. Thomas Wilford may well hold the record for most political portfolios - in 1910 he was briefly chairman of the Wellington Harbour Board and MP for the Hutt Valley, in addition to his mayoral duties.
Though the Town Hall's interiors are similar to how they appeared when the building first opened in 1904, the exterior today is very different. Most notable is the absence of the clock tower, which graced Wellington's cityscape for 30 years. The clock tower was taken down as a precaution after the 1931 Napier earthquake: it proved to be so well built that explosives had to be used to remove it.
The Town Hall is located at 111 Wakefield Street. Visitors are welcome any time between 10.00am and 1.00pm on Saturday 18 June - please come to the door opposite the Michael Fowler Centre, then up the stairs or lift to level one. Presentations followed by tea and coffee take place on the hour every hour from 10.00am to 1.00pm.
An electoral officer will be present on the day to answer questions and help you enrol to vote.
Jodi Turton, Functions Coordinator
Phone: (04) 801 3107