Te Pae Christchurch delays inaugural event, gains gold star in sustainability

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre has postponed its first event, with the venue now aiming to begin hosting in the lead-up to Christmas.

The centre was scheduled to host its first gig in October, but the latest COVID-19 disruption has prevented many of the specialists necessary to complete the facility from travelling down from the North Island.

“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 Ōtākaro Limited chief executive John Bridgman.

“It’s understandable these people won’t be able to travel outside their regions for some time. Also, productivity onsite 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,” Bridgman said.

“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 $600 million of direct economic benefit in the next 10 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.”

Last week, the centre gained Toitū enviromark gold certification, which has been tailored for New Zealand businesses so they can establish, implement and maintain an effective environmental management system.

“From the outset, the Te Pae Christchurch team has been committed to sustainable operations and taking positive environmental action,” general manager Ross Steele said.

“We are exceptionally proud to reach this milestone in our pre-opening phase, particularly given how challenging the past few months have been.”

At gold level, certified organisations have implemented controls for both regulatory obligations and significant opportunities to improve their performance. Impacts are measured so they can be properly managed on an ongoing basis.

Venue presentation manager Jason Stewart has led the program internally, and said the process to certification has provided many benefits.

“It’s helped us nail down the goals we want to achieve as a business, and the improvements needed to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious,” he said.

“And by getting every department thinking about what they do and the impact it has, it has solidified our environmental mindset.”

Stewart said with New Zealand’s reputation as a clean, green destination, and venue sustainability becoming more important to clients during the decision-making process, it was important Te Pae Christchurch aligned with New Zealand’s strongest environmental program.

“Toitū fits that bill, with a wealth of experience providing a strong level of mentoring and guidance to support not only our team, but also our clients,” he said.