Government House, Auckland

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The first Government House in Auckland, as painted by Edward Ashworth in 1842 or 1843

The present-day Government House, Auckland, New Zealand is in the suburb of Mount Eden on Mountain Road. The site was probably first built upon in the 1880s or 1890s, although some of the trees may be slightly older, dating from the 1870s. The current House dates from the 1920s and is much smaller than the Wellington Government House, being designed as a family home, abeit a large one.

Sir Frank Mappin, 6th Baronet and his wife Lady Mappin bought the Mt Eden property in 1921. They replaced the existing 19th century house completely, and spent the next 45 years developing and landscaping the grounds. They called the house Birchlands after a previous residence in Britain.

The Mappins decided to present the residence to the Crown to act as the new Government House. The recent Royal Tour in 1953 had highlighted many deficiencies in the Waterloo Quadrant building; the mid-Victorian structure was showing its age, and it felt increasingly hemmed in by the growing city and University and thus a possible security risk.

The Mount Eden property was given to the Crown in 1962, although the Mappins did not depart until 1969. The deed of gift, signed by Sir Frank, and Prime Minister Keith Holyoake on 23 May that year declares that "the donor [was] moved by his duty and loyalty to Her Majesty and by a desire to benefit her present and future subjects in New Zealand by the provision of a site of dignity and beauty for the residence in Auckland for Her Majesty's Representative in New Zealand". The deed states the property is given "upon trust for Her Majesty her heirs and successors according to law as a site for Government House in Auckland for ever ..".[1] Republican Brian Rudman suggested that the House would have to be returned to the descendants of Sir Frank should New Zealand become a republic.[1]

The first Government House of Auckland was a prefabricated structure brought out by William Hobson in 1841. It was erected in Waterloo Quadrant[citation needed] and burned down in 1848 during George Grey's first period as governor. The decision to rebuild was delayed, probably due to the possibility of the capital being moved to Wellington (which is what transpired in 1864). During the interim period other houses acted as Government House; the Nathan Residence on Karangahape Road, Colonel Wynyard's house in Official Bay and Hulme Court in Parnell.

The replacement Government House by William Mason was not completed until 1856. It served as the Governor's Auckland residence until 1969, when it was superseded by Birchlands in Mount Eden. Now known as Old Government House, the 1856 Italianate Mansion is now part of the University of Auckland City Campus and has been converted into lecture theatres and a common room for faculty. As of 2014 the building was in a poor state of repair.

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  1. ^ a b Rudman, Brian (13 March 2006). "If we ditch the monarchy, who gets the house?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 September 2010. 

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Coordinates: 36°52′31″S 174°46′06″E / 36.875318°S 174.768239°E / -36.875318; 174.768239