The National Parliament House is a strikingly perfect blend of the old and the new combined with modern architecture and ancient designs. Many claim that the building was built in accordance to the style of Maprik Haus Tambaran or the House of Spirits.
The Parliament House is far more than just a building: it is not even just a parliament. For the country of Papua New Guinea, it is a symbol of political independence with its impressive sweeping lines that signify the essential aspects and parts of the nation.
On September 16, 1975, the entire Papua New Guinea nation came together in joyous celebrations as the country became a sovereign state. Unfortunately, there were a substantial number of citizens that did not want independence from Australia. With nation-building in mind, the new government’s primary concern was to convince all citizens to support the newfound democracy and to feel pride with its new national culture and history.
In order to raise national consciousness, the state initiated civic education and cultural revitalization plans by the creation of “key symbols”. These symbols will render the process of a national unity as well as let such symbolic frameworks represent the social reality. Although the country’s national flag and summit remains the most familiar and emotionally drawn emblems for the people of Papua New Guinea, the state established an ambitious building program in its national capital. The aim of such development programs is to give a drastic embodiment to the legitimacy and ideals of the nation. The centerpiece of this political and aesthetic move is then the National Parliament House.
Despite such ambitious plans, nothing was executed until March of 1975. The independence of Papua New Guinea was already scheduled for September so Chief Minister Somare hurriedly urged his cabinet to push through with the project. They then decided to locate the Parliament House in Waigani, Port Moresby, which was a growing administrative center. The site is located below the Independence Hill and was officially marked by Prince Charles of England himself on the country’s Independence Day. Unfortunately, the building did not open until October of 1984.
Aside from the Parliament building, new government buildings were also constructed in Waigini to house the different government departments. Sadly, many of these government buildings have been left in abandon due to years of neglect. Some of these buildings include the Marea Haus or the Pineapple Building and the Central Government Office. More so, neighboring buildings such as the Morauta Haus and the Vulupindi Haus are starting to show signs of decay due to a lack of maintenance.
Along with such widespread deterioration, the Parliament Building is in desperate need of a major renovation as well. In 2009, Prime Minster Sir Michael Somare himself almost got injured when the chair he was sitting on suddenly collapsed under his weight. This then warned the Parliament that the house could face a shutdown if the government cannot find the money to fix up the building.
With such a commendable history on the buildings’ initiation, it would be an extreme waste to see a major landmark in the country left to deteriorate in the coming years. Hopefully, the National Parliament House will be able to restore its once-known symbolic glory.