The refurbished Debating Chamber is nearly completed to host MPs’ first sitting for 2020, Parliament’s Clerk confirms.
The sitting is expected to be next month but Tangata Vainerere says they are still awaiting confirmation of the dates.
The Chamber, which has cost the taxpayers $300,000 was supposed to have finished before the December 2019 sitting. But it was delayed due to a number of factors including delays in obtaining the building licence and the unavailability of workers.
Instead the two-week long Parliamentary session was held at the Crown Beach Resort in Arorangi.
Vainerere is now offering an assurance the Chamber is “almost ready” and will accommodate the MPs in the upcoming sitting.
This week Parliament’s staff took part in a working bee, which included setting up the interior of the building.
“The Chamber is ready for use, we just have to put the furniture, power points together with USB connections onto the benches,” Vainerere said.
“The benches are being prepared offsite with one of our local suppliers. That’s the last bit of work inside the Chamber.
“We will soon be testing the electrical system, the air conditioning and other things. Otherwise we are looking in good shape for the year and waiting on word when our first sitting will be for the year and we will have it ready for the first sitting.”
The Parliament staff this week spent time setting up the cushion benches in the public gallery area and other seating arrangements.
Vainerere also revealed a handcrafted wooden archway from Henry Tavioni at the main entrance.
He also said the walls inside the Chamber would be decorated with photos of all the Queen’s Representatives, Prime Ministers, Speakers and Clerks.
“We will also have a photo board of all our current Members of Parliament.”
The kitchen area has also been extended to provide more space. The servery counter which was previously attached to the wall is now standing on its own to allow easier access to MPs during meal times.
“We also have a brand new foyer which is looking like a hotel lobby,” Vainerere said.