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Meet the manager: ChristchurchNZ’s head of business events Megan Crum on the shifting perceptions of Christchurch

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Meet the manager: ChristchurchNZ's head of business events Megan Crum on the shifting perceptions of Christchurch
Self-proclaimed “Auswi” and ChristchurchNZ’s head of business events, Megan Crum says she reversed the trend, moving as an Aussie to New Zealand.

With dual citizenship and a career that’s also provided the duality of working as a PCO for her own conference organisation business, to finishing up a three-year contract spearheading business events for Christchurch, she’s been on both sides of the industry fence.

“I took a great leap of faith,” she says, “there was a gap in the market and with $3,000 and some great family support, I started my own PCO company,” she says. “I had the most wonderful PCO career, growing a business, growing a team, meeting all the amazing people across so many industries and associations.”

Spending 15 years as a PCO before moving on from the business that still runs today, she worked in a consulting role before landing a three-year contract championing business events for Christchurch – a role she’s currently finishing up before enjoying some much-deserved downtime.

Crum says she’s adored the role and that it’s quite different to running your own business. It has given her a unique insight into both sides of the industry and what makes a destination attractive to planners.

Following a 2011 earthquake, Christchurch was almost entirely rebuilt as a planned city, with a giant surge in new infrastructure.

Meet the manager: ChristchurchNZ's head of business events Megan Crum on the shifting perceptions of Christchurch
Much of Christchurch has been rebuilt since the 2011 earthquake

“We had so many people come to the city to work and rebuild it that the diversity of people has been incredible. That’s led to different types of businesses growing in the city. We’ve got really cool and funky bars and restaurants and a brand-new city that’s been able to be planned. So it’s quite a different experience than what I think people who have visited Christchurch pre-earthquakes would remember.”

Crum adds that there’s a lot more planned, including a multi-use Te Kaha, a covered arena slated for an early 2026 opening suited to approximately 30,000 people.

“We’ve also got quite a lot more hotel infrastructure coming online whilst we have about 5,000 hotel beds in the city at the moment,” she says. “The opening of Te Pae two years ago has really been a game changer.”

“From a practical perspective, our accessibility is incredible. We have an international airport which connects us to the world. We have hundreds of flights daily … [and] the airport is 20 minutes from the central city. We’ve been able to rebuild the most beautiful, practical, functional city.

“It’s a dream for conference organisers. Everyone can walk to and from the convention centre to their hotels or from our beautiful town hall. We’ve got the most gorgeous river running through our city. So the connection to the outdoors and that wellness in the fast paced environment that we’re often working in is, I think, really unique. We’re 20 minutes to the ocean and a half-hour to the mountains, so you’ve got that ability to connect to the ocean and Alps and all the wildlife and the pre and post-activities that make it so easy. From a conference organising perspective, it’s all there.”

Meet the manager: ChristchurchNZ's head of business events Megan Crum on the shifting perceptions of Christchurch
A key project of Christchurch’s regeneration, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre opened in 2022

Because so much in the city is new, she says there’s a lot to offer that delegates haven’t done before including Amiki Walking Tours, the Chill Bikes Cycling Tours and Riverside Markets.

“We’re an Antarctic gateway city, so we’ve got the Antarctic Centre. We’ve got a few great gins and whiskies that are always a hit with the delegates. It’s all those food and beverage offerings, the foraging, the cooking experiences, the thermal pools, the skiing.”

Diversity and practicality aside, she says a big asset for PCOs is that it’s a destination where delegates can experience a true, non-tokenistic connection to Māori culture.

“There’s no tokenism at all when you’re running a conference in Christchurch. Culturally, it’s very interwoven into everything that we do and all the recommendations that we make, and the speakers that we would suggest. It’s reflected in the design of Te Pae, the authenticity really comes through for groups, they genuinely feel it.”

As Crum’s three-year contract comes to a close next month, she’s taking a well-earned break for some R&R to further enjoy the city before her next chapter.

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