8 Jun 2012

Backbencher pub badly damaged in fire

10:29 pm on 8 June 2012

Wellington's Backbencher pub opposite Parliament has been badly damaged by fire.

The pub and cafe on Molesworth Street is famous for its satirical puppets of politicians, cartoons and various memorabilia on the walls.

The puppet of United Future leader Peter Dunne.

The puppet of United Future leader Peter Dunne. Photo: RNZ

The Fire Service says it received a call at 4.45am on Friday that the ground floor of the establishment was ablaze.

Eight fire appliances attended and all 10 floors of the adjacent Kate Sheppard apartments had to be evacuated.

The Fire Service says the blaze began in the kitchen, which was extensively damaged. The pub is closed for six weeks.

Most of the puppets were only smoke damaged, including that of Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English.

However, puppets of United Future leader Peter Dunne and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples were badly burnt and will have to be replaced.

TVNZ 7 political programme Back Benches, which is filmed at the pub, is moving to The Shepherds Arms Hotel in Thorndon for the remaining three weeks of the season. The channel is to close at the end of June.