May 5, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

New Zealand’s newest convention centre Te Pae Christchurch hosted its first conference this week, following the lifting of event capacity caps in April.

The centre, which had its official opening in December 2021, was forced to delay its start to holding larger events after New Zealand’s government placed the country at its strictest restriction level in the COVID-19 Protection Framework in late January, which initially capped event capacities at 100, rising to 200 in late March.

With events now permitted to go ahead with unlimited numbers, Te Pae welcomed the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission’s Te Waihanga Looking Ahead Symposium, taking place in the centre on Monday and Tuesday this week with approximately 150 attendees.

“It’s wonderful to see the Centre busy and operating as it is meant to be – filled with people connecting face-to-face, sharing knowledge and ideas and engaging in conversations that will have a real impact on our collective future,” said Te Pae Christchurch General Manager Ross Steele.

“I could not think of a better way to open our convention account than with the launch of a strategy that will help build a thriving Aotearoa.

“Te Pae Christchurch itself is a crown infrastructure project built to provide economic value to New Zealand and to Ōtautahi Christchurch and with 60 conventions between now and December, along with many other events, we’re excited to get to work and make a difference to our city,” said Steele.

Of the 60 conferences, eight are international events. Between conferences and other events scheduled to be held at the venue in 2022, 67,000 people are expected to come through the doors before the end of the year, with the Te Pae’s business anticipated to generate $37.2 million in direct economic value for Christchurch this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s capital Wellington is also expecting a healthy calendar of in-person events through the rest of 2022, with conferences across industry sectors including the creative and screen industries, telecommunications and health. Between two of the city’s venues which currently take the majority of larger conference groups – TSB Arena and Te Papa – there are more than 30 conferences booked in for delivery this year.

“We’re looking forward to hosting an exciting calendar of conferences,” said Business Events Wellington Manager Irette Ferreira.

“These range from domestic events, which have sustained the city’s conference market since borders closed in 2020, to international conferences secured over the past several years which are now able to welcome delegates and speakers from around the world with no event restrictions.”

The second of New Zealand’s new generation of convention centres, Tākina, will open in Wellington in 2023, with over 60 conferences already booked into the new venue.