Ministry move to Mātauranga House

The Ministry of Education moved most of our Wellington staff into Mātauranga House - at 33 Bowen Street - at the beginning of January.

We have a 15 year lease on Mātauranga House and will make significant savings of around $27 million over the course of the lease.

We had been working out of four buildings in Wellington and those leases were due to expire in early 2016.  We planned for the move for a long time and made savings over several years within existing Ministry budgets to pay for it. 

Throughout the project we have looked to get the very best value for money.  As a result, we are around $3 million under budget.

We also have a whole new way of working at Mātauranga House. It’s a first for a government department or ministry. 

Nearly half our people are using hot desks on what are known as flexible floors.  They don’t have their own desk, just a locker.  We have more people than desks. Within the next few years all of our staff will move to hot desks.

In the old building, 80 leaders and managers had their own offices. That’s changed completely. No-one has an office.

Our move has meant:

  • Saving $1.8 million a year on accommodation and running costs – and a total saving of $27 million over 15 years
  • Dropping from 22,500 square metres of office space to around 16,500
  • Moving our leadership team and managers on to the floor with other staff 
  • Reducing phone costs by around $330,000 by doing away with traditional desk phones and instead providing staff with headsets and Skype
  • Getting conference space so we don’t have to hire external venues for big gatherings
  • Having space for colleagues in the wider sector to come and work alongside us

We did this:

  • Without any additional funding
  • Using money put aside over a number of years
  • Under budget and within government guidelines
  • On time
  • Over the holiday period to minimise any disruption.

The move was managed with the Property Management Centre of Expertise as part of a wider programme of Government accommodation changes in Wellington.  They determined that the building at 33 Bowen Street was the best option for the Ministry. Not only were our leases up for renewal, but had we been able to renegotiate them there would have been significant costs to upgrade offices and facilities that were in a rundown state.

We have 1,072 staff located in Mātauranga House, 13 percent more than the previous tenant and that will rise to 25 percent when all of our people are here.  On top of that we have about 12,000 visitors a year and that number will grow with the new conference facilities.  So we had to make changes to the building to accommodate that, including internal stairs. We explored the possibility of adding another lift.  However, experts advised us the building structure meant it would have been very difficult technically, as well as considerably more expensive than the staircase option. 

We aim to make every floor flexible within the next year or so, allowing us to move the staff we still have in the Justice Centre into Mātauranga House.  This will mean further accommodation savings.

We have space now that can be opened up into a conference facility for up to 200 people.  That means we no longer have to hire external facilities when we need to bring together large groups.   We work with a very big sector.  Having an onsite facility is a much better way of doing business. It’s a lot more cost effective and staff won’t lose time travelling.

We also have room for staff from other agencies to come and work alongside us as well as groups from the education sector who we regularly work closely with. 

We had to get mostly new furniture for the building, but negotiated the very best deals possible with the suppliers available through the all of government procurement process.  The furniture is New Zealand made and we have a 10-year warranty on it.  Office furniture gets heavy use and some of the off the shelf options available wouldn’t last that sort of distance.

Our old furniture had been deliberately run down over a period of years and wasn’t replaced because we were planning for the move. We brought with us what would still work in this office.  The rest of the old furniture was offered to charities and other organisations, but they did not find a lot of it fit for what they needed.  Anything that remained surplus has been sent to recyclers.

A lot of our computers and technology was old and getting near the end of its life. We had to replace this, regardless of where we were located.  The only difference was making sure it would be compatible with the new building and how we are working in the hot desk environment. We also introduced Skype for all staff.  Before long we will have it across all of our offices. Over time that will greatly reduce the need for travel and help cut costs further.

Changes to the entrance of the building, including on part of council-owned land, were to make sure we met what was required by law.  We had to cater for accessibility and health and safety.  We kept these costs to a minimum. There was a small contribution from the landlord, but the vast majority of these costs had to be met by the Ministry.

The move was planned and key financial decisions were taken over several years.

Picture of Matauranga House Picture of Matauranga House Picture of Matauranga House
Picture of Matauranga House Picture of Matauranga House Picture of Matauranga House


Projected final spend


Projected Final Spend

Construction costs




Internal 12 floor staircase


Network, cabling and meeting room technology


External Consultant Costs (Architects, Engineers etc)


Internal Project costs




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