New Zealand returns with new venues and impetus

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New Zealand has reopened its borders and opened the first of three new generation, city-centre convention centres as it targets more international conferences.

The purpose-built venues in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland will showcase the capability and increase the capacity of New Zealand to host exceptional business events.

Bjoern Spreitzer, general manager of New Zealand and Business Events at Tourism New Zealand, stated:  “This growth in business events infrastructure underlines both the importance of this industry to New Zealand’s economy and recognition of the wider knowledge, networking and business benefits international conferences and events bring.

“We look forward to welcoming international conference delegates back to New Zealand, with new venues and opportunities for learning and collaboration.”

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Tourism New Zealand has continued to bid for and win international conferences that enrich New Zealand and leave a positive legacy for the country’s economy, environment, society, and culture.

Major wins include:

  • The International Coral Reef Society’s Symposium in Auckland in 2025
  • The International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Dunedin 2025
  • The International Sedimentological Congress in Wellington in 2026.

Te Pae Christchurch

The first of New Zealand’s new generation convention centres, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre has officially opened, kick starting a full roster of more than 100 events scheduled for the remainder of the year, including eight international conferences.

Ross Steele, general manager of

Te Pae Christchurch, said: “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.

“In total, through to October 2024, we have 146 events scheduled, which will bring close to 150,000 people into our city and generate more than $74m (US$47m) in direct economic value. This includes 88 conferences, 23 of which are international.”

Te Pae Christchurch’s 28,000sqm of flexible space includes a 1,400-seat tiered auditorium, divisible into two 700-seat venues; a riverside banquet space; plus extensive meeting space and expandable exhibition halls. State-of-the-art technology comes built-in, with leading hybrid and virtual meeting capability and an in-house AV and production team.

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The centre’s name, ‘Te Pae’ draws inspiration from several phrases in New Zealand’s indigenous language, te reo Māori. Te Pae Maunga means our mountain views, and Te Pae Whenua means the vast plains we inhabit. These iconic elements of the region’s landscape are echoed in the building’s design, where shapes and lines represent the contours of the Southern Alps and braided rivers of Canterbury. Te Pae Tangata means a place to meet and converse, highlighting Te Pae Christchurch’s role as a gathering place for the city.

As part of ASM Global, Te Pae Christchurch is already leveraging the knowledge and experience of the worldwide venue management company, while delivering New Zealand’s famed local welcome and hospitality.

Close relationships with ChristchurchNZ Business Events, the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct are driving a targeted bidding strategy drawing on the city’s knowledge strengths, which range from earth sciences to aerospace and future transport, food, fibre and agritech, health tech and high-tech services, construction technology, social enterprise, and international education.

Te Pae Christchurch has received a Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award from Qualmark, underlining its commitment to safe and sustainable operations and events.

It is also part of ASM Global VenueShield programme, ensuring that facilities are clean and certified at the highest standards of health and safety to alleviate delegate concerns in a post-Covid environment.

Tākina, Wellington

Next in the pipeline for New Zealand is Tākina, the new Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre, on track to open in 2023, with more than 60 conferences already pencilled in at the central city venue. 

Tākina means ‘to invoke, to summon, to connect, to bring forth’ in te reo Māori. The building’s concept draws on the summoning of Wellington’s wind as a means of expressing the shift of knowledge, moving things forward, and carrying ideas. It will be a place of welcoming, thinking, learning, and sharing, with its sculptural exterior housing modern, light-filled, flexible event spaces.

Tākina can accommodate a plenary of up to 1,600 delegates, in addition to a second plenary for up to 700 delegates, both sub-divisible; plus a 1,800sqm exhibition hall with adjacent space to boost capacity; stand-alone meeting rooms, and fully integrated best-in-class AV and ICT systems.

Irette Ferreira, manager of Business Events Wellington, says the capital city is looking to host an exciting calendar of conferences in 2022 and beyond.

Business Events Wellington has partnered with Tourism New Zealand, universities based in the city, locally based government agencies, and a variety of national associations to develop and target events focussing on the city’s specialist sectors and research areas. These include digital technologies, from software to telecommunications; professional services; creative industries including screen and gaming, world-leading education, and scientific research in fields from biotech to advanced materials. 

Upcoming events include the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works’ IIC Biennial Congress, which will now go ahead in a hybrid format in September at the National Library. 

In October the city’s health sector will welcome both the 4th Feeding the Future conference of the Infant Nutrition Council of Australia and New Zealand, and the Combined Scientific Congress of the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists and the Australian Society of Anaesthetists. 

And the city’s high-tech strengths will be evident when it hosts both the ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces Conference, and the International Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference in November. 

Looking ahead, Ferreira says 2023 is set to be a bumper year for Wellington. Some of the international conferences scheduled to take place include the 10th International Crustacean Congress, the Island Biology Conference, and the International Zoo Educators Conference. 

Ferreira commented: “Tākina will add purpose-built conferencing capability and capacity to our already excellent suite of venues, from the intimate and unique to our big, blank canvas options. Wellington’s business events future is looking bigger and brighter.” 

NZICC, Auckland 

Meanwhile, construction continues on the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) in the heart of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland. This vertically stacked building features a glazed façade and adjacent laneways, providing delegates with a connection to the vibrancy of the city, while allowing views of Auckland’s natural beauty, from the Waitakere Ranges to the Waitematā Harbour. Its flexible convention and event space can cater for up to 4,000 people across 32,500sqm. The configurable spaces over four levels present opportunities for a wide range of events including theatre capacity for 2,850 and up to 33 meeting rooms.

Ken Pereira, manager of Auckland Convention Bureau (ACB), says demand from organisations and institutions overseas to hold conferences, incentive trips or business events in the city remains high, reinforcing its reputation as a desirable destination. Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland was ranked the number one city to visit this year in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022, and named the best MICE destination in Oceania at the World MICE Awards 2021.

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Pereira stated:

“The demand for Auckland to be a host city from our international clients is strong. We are seeing sectors want to make up for missed time and reconnect in person here in Auckland, making the most of our leading industries but also our culture, tourism, and hospitality.”

From next year, there is a strong pipeline of events secured for Auckland, delivering a significant economic impact for the city.

ACB leverages its position as part of Auckland Unlimited, the city’s economic development and cultural agency, to attract events in its key sectors. These include the technology sector, from robotics, medtech, cyber security and fintech, to screen and digital media. Upcoming events in Auckland in 2022 include the International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) eGrid Conference, and the Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL).

The city’s agritech and green economy credentials will be highlighted in the 2035 Oceania Summit on agri-food-tech later this year, as well as the World Avocado Congress in 2023. The (FAOPMA) Federation of Asian and Oceania Pest Managers Association Pest Summit will come to the city in 2026, thanks largely to New Zealand’s reputation as a world leader in pest control and conservation innovation.

Auckland is also living its ethos of advancing equity, hosting the IWG World Conference on Women & Sport this year, the International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES) in 2023, and the International Association of Women in Police (IAWP) Annual Conference in 2023.

For information on holding your next conference in New Zealand, head to: businessevents.newzealand.com

Conference & Meetings World is published for the international conference and meetings industry. It tackles the issues facing organisers of international events. The editorial is independent, fresh and news driven, with a global reach.

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