6 Jun 2014

High Commissioner's London pad sold

9:45 am on 6 June 2014

The residency for New Zealand's High Commissioner in London has been sold after being empty for two years because it was deemed unfit to host dinner parties.

And in the meantime, the Government is paying for rented accommodation for the High Commissioner to the tune of $7,300 a week.

Sir Lockwood's official residence in London has been sold.

Sir Lockwood's official residence in London has been sold. Photo: Supplied

And that has prompted the opposition to asking why the residency in London's plush Kensington wasn't good enough.

The Clareville Street property was purchased under the previous Labour Government in 2003, and was sold earlier this year for £5.6 million.

The property has been unoccupied since the departure of the previous High Commissioner in November 2012.

In a Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee on Thursday Labour MP, Phil Goff, questioned why it was sold, and if there was something wrong with the building.

Chief executive of the Ministry John Allen said the property wasn't appropriate for diplomatic functions.

But Mr Goff disputed that saying it always seemed perfectly adequate to him.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Murray McCully said there is building work happening next door to the property which have been disruptive.

But Mr Goff didn't accept that, and questioned whether the building work would actually take place outside of normal working hours.

He said leaving the house empty has cost the tax payer $500,000.

Mr McCully said he accepts it's a significant sum of money, but he does not believe the Ministry's property staff have been profligate.

Mr McCully said the bigger problem in London is New Zealand House, where the lease is due to run out in 2048.

He said one option could be moving the High Commissioner's residency to within New Zealand House.