The Ministry of Justice is opening Wellington's historic Old HIgh Court Building in Stout Street to the public during Wellington Heritage Week.
There will be three Twilight Openings between 5pm and 7pm - from Tuesday, 23 October to Thursday 25 October, along with a full Open Day from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, 27 October. Admission is free.
"Visitors will be able to view the public foyer and the magnificent courtroom with the portraits of the Chief Justices. There will be some displays on the history of the building and of historic court cases. I am also planning to have a set of the ‘old’ red robes and a set of the new robes on display, says Visitor Services and Information Officer Lyn Eden.
"The cells underneath the building will not be open to the public on this occasion. However, visitors will be able to stand in the dock where many famous prisoners have stood.
"Of particular note was the appearance in October 1886 of Te Whiti o Rongomai (The Prophet of Parihaka) and Riwha Titokowaru (Ngāti Ruanui leader) and eight other supporters who were charged with riot and forcible entry when they had entered onto land that was being settled. Chief Justice Prendergast sentenced them all to imprisonment and they served their sentences in the Terrace Jail."
Built from 1879 to 1881, the old courthouse is a Heritage New Zealand listed building. It was vacated in 1993, with restoration and earthquake strengthening undertaken between 2007 and 2009. It was designed by Pierre Finch Martineau Burrows, who arrived in New Zealand in 1863 from England. He also designed the Post Office at Christchurch and Mount Eden Prison.