September 1, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The first of New Zealand’s new generation of convention centres, which was set for an October opening, is now hoping to deliver its first events in the lead-up to Christmas.

“At least 30 experts in areas such as fire systems management and other aspects of commissioning and compliance for a venue of this scale are based in Auckland and Wellington,” says Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive, John Bridgman.

Ōtākaro Limited is the Government organisation tasked with delivering Christchurch’s anchor recovery projects following the 2011 earthquake in the region, of which Te Pae is one.

“It’s understandable these people won’t be able to travel outside their regions for some time. Also productivity on-site will be reduced with the Level 3 personal distance requirements. With all the unknowns, we can’t yet provide a firm opening date but we are aiming to provide event organisers with as much clarity as is possible at the moment.

“This is a large facility and we’re unlikely to be able to host the most complex events such as big conferences and exhibitions this year but we are optimistic of holding meetings and banquets before Christmas.

“We really feel for everyone who continues to be impacted by COVID-19. It’s been a tough year and we are really hoping to end it on a positive note by hosting some festive season events at our impressive new venue.”

Bridgman also pointed out that the current setback should be viewed in context of the larger benefit Te Pae would deliver for Christchurch.

“While we are very keen to get the doors open as soon as possible, this will be a key city asset for decades to come. Even allowing for COVID-19, it’s likely to provide about $600m of direct economic benefit in the next ten years.

“We are designing the facility to hold hybrid events, which will enable those unwilling or unable to travel to take part online, but it’s really pleasing to know that people still want to meet in person.

“Just as we all look forward to catching up with family and friends after lockdown, businesses and sectors are still very keen for face-to-face events.”

Te Pae Christchurch General Manager Ross Steele says COVID-19 continues to be disruptive to the business events industry in many ways.

“We certainly support the health direction to get New Zealand back to Alert Level 1 particularly while the vaccination program continues to be rolled out.  The vaccination program is the key to unlock our borders, which will allow incremental growth in the New Zealand business events industry for the long term.

“Generally, as we move through alert levels we are seeing a knock-on effect from our clients where events which are currently unable to be hosted are being moved to the future.”

Steele said they were working with clients who needed to reschedule and flagged around 90 events locked in at the venue further ahead.