Guy Ngan: Government Printing Office, 1966

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Untitled
Medium: Painted concrete relief
Dimensions: Area approx 93 m² / 1,000 ft²
Date: 1966
Original location: Back of Government Printing Office, 10 Mulgrave St, Thorndon, Wellington (work viewable from Thorndon Quay)
Architect: F.G.F Sheppared, Ministry of Works, Architectural Division
Current location: In situ. Building now occupied by Archives NZ.
Heritage status: TBC

The Government Printing Office (later Archives New Zealand) was officially opened in 1966 by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake. A project by the Ministry of Work’s Architectural Division, the build was overseen by Government Architect F.G.F. Sheppard (1959-71). Ngan worked for the division from 1956-1960, after which point he moved to architects Stephenson & Turner. It is possible he designed the work before departing the ministry.

The building has frontages on two streets that taper to a point. To accommodate this, the building is primarily a long rectangle facing Mulgrave Street with a smaller attached wedge-shaped block facing Thorndon Quay.

Ngan’s mural, with its geometric vertical elements, disrupts the horizontal, windowless length of the building, while also providing a graceful visual link between the larger building and the wedge. Taking up an entire wall, the inch-deep shapes are painted a dramatic grey and white.

In 1989 the Government Print building was sold to the Department of Internal Affairs to house Archives New Zealand.