DISRUPTIONS caused by Covid cases in New Zealand’s north island have led to the postponement of the first event at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre a thousand kilometres south of the outbreak.
The venue is now planning to hold the event in the run up to Christmas as building specialists needed to complete the facility were unable to travel from the north island.
New Zealand has managed to contain the pandemic but a recent outbreak of more than 680 cases mainly in Auckland has triggered restriction levels to return in other parts of the country.
“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,” said John Bridgman, chief executive of Ōtākaro, the company steering Christchurch’s rejuvenation projects.
“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.”
Te Pae Christchurch had events booked from mid-October onwards. “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.”
Ōtākaro’s Bridgman said it was important to consider Te Pae Christchurch as a project being built for the long-term benefit of the city and the region.
“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 NZ$600m [about US$423.3m] 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,” Bridgman said.
“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.”
Ross Steele, Te Pae Christchurch general manager, said vaccines were vital as the global pandemic continued to disrupt the business events industry.
“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 the Te Pae Christchurch team were working with clients affected by the delay to find the best solution to host their events.
“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.