Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is now planning to hold its first events in the lead up to Christmas, after a delay in the completion of building the facility due to New Zealand’s current COVID-19 outbreak.
Many of the specialists necessary to complete the facility are unable to travel down from the North Island, delaying the venue’s first events, which were originally on track for October.
With New Zealanders currently in strict lockdown across the country, Ōtākaro Limited chief executive John Bridgman said people would be unable to travel outside their regions for some time.
“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,” Bridgman said.
“Also, productivity on-site will be reduced with the Level 3 personal distance requirements.”
Dealing with uncertainties, Bridgman said it is not possible to provide a firm opening date as yet, but that his team was working hard to provide event organisers with as much clarity as possible.
“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.”
While the centre is very keen to open its doors as soon as possible, Bridgman said it’s important to remember that Te Pae Christchurch is being built for the long-term benefit of the city and the region.
“This will be a key city asset for decades to come,” he said.
“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.”
With the vaccination program the key to unlocking New Zealand’s borders, Te Pae Christchurch general manager Ross Steele said the rollout will allow incremental growth in the New Zealand business events industry for the long term.
“We also have around 90 further confirmed events which we look forward to hosting as we open Te Pae Christchurch for the benefit of the region,” he said.