Government Life building in Cathedral Square – opened 50 years ago today

On 17 July 1964 the Government Life Building opened in Cathedral Square. One of my favourite photos in our entire collection is this one of its construction. workers on top of Government Life. It is the Ōtautahi version of the famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam).

The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square.  [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square. [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
That iconic clock has been a landmark of the central city – when it was turned off lots of us missed looking up to see the time (and the temperature).

Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2
Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2

In the 1965 photo above, you can see it is 1:52pm.

Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, Kete Christchurch
Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, 1965. Kete Christchurch

Post earthquakes, Mike Hewson’s artwork Government Life Suspension reflected the building back for us.

Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287

The Government Life building is currently being demolished.
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One thought on “Government Life building in Cathedral Square – opened 50 years ago today

  1. Megan 19 July 2014 / 1:31 pm

    I have rather mixed feelings about this building because when I was a child in the late 1980s, my father took a friend and I up into the building over the weekend to see if we could still access the roof viewing area. We found it had been shut to public access much to our disappointment, however not to spoil an opportunity decided to ‘race’ my father down the stairs (he took the lift) back to the ground floor. With it being the weekend, my friend and I discovered that we couldn’t access the ground floor and after running around what was the 2nd floor office area trying in vain to find a way down, I panicked and convinced my friend to run with me all the way back up to the top floor and then take the lift back down. I remember bursting out of the doors into the lobby area and finding my father completely oblivious to my distress and talking to a friend while he was waiting for us to arrive! I have never viewed the building the same ever since.

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