Council aims to draw international business tourists to Wellington


Takina, the new Conference and Exhibition Centre is expected to boost the hospitality and retail sector in Wellington

Venu Menon
Wellington, June 10, 2023

New Zealand’s capital city has a glitzy new addition to its skyline.

Takina, meaning “connect” in te reo Maori, is the new conference and exhibition centre, with its distinctive tinted-glass façade, that has sprung up in Wellington’s inner city opposite the waterfront.

Takina is hailed by the City Council as the “most significant new building to open in Wellington since Sky Stadium was built two decades ago.”

As its lyrical name suggests, the building plays host to the winds, both tempestuous and calm, blowing from the Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington Harbour.

According to indigenous Maori belief, “those winds are a metaphor for magic, exuberance, sharing, and ideas. The winds express the shift of knowledge from one generation to another. They move things forward. They carry truths and viewpoints here from the universe and move them on to others, thousands of miles away.”

Taranaki Whanui, the traditional Maori custodians of the harbour and surrounding lands, led the morning blessing of the three-storey structure on May 31, which was followed by the inaugural civic ceremony held in the evening and attended by over 700 guests who included Mayor Tory Whanau and community and council members.

Jurassic World by Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught, was the first public exhibition hosted at the new premises and will run till 16 October 2023. Festival for the Future, a leadership and innovation summit, the first official event, concluded on June 9.

Owned by the Wellington City Council, Takina is expected to boost the hospitality and retail sectors with an estimated annual revenue of $ 45 million flowing to the city.

“Takina will increase Wellington’s opportunity to host international conferences at a scale the city has not previously been able to,” said David Parks, general manager, Takina Commercial Development for Wellington City Council.

Two conference spaces over two levels can hold up to 700 and 1,600 people, respectively.

The exhibition gallery on the ground floor is the largest in New Zealand, as per the Council’s website.

Takina Events manages the events of both Takina and the Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum, located in the vicinity.

According to the City Council, the design of Takina reduces energy use by 60% and carbon emissions by 60%, “when benchmarked against comparable new builds.”

Takina is the first building in New Zealand with a “Sefar Glass Façade,” a material which has “enhanced thermal qualities.”

The building’s construction features include its ability to move up to 700 mm horizontally during an earthquake, but “remain stiff in the upper structure.”

Sitting 3.5 m above sea level, the edifice mitigates the risk of surface water flooding entering the building.

The building has a significant solar power capability of 200 kva.

A life-size replica of a Dinosaur on display at the Jurassic World Exhibition in Takina

City Council data indicates the project budget is $ 179.3 million (including the land cost of $ 21.5 million). Overall, 66.7 % of the costs fall to the commercial ratepayer and 33.3 % to the residential ratepayer.

Once operational, the project is expected to create jobs, provide business for local businesses and the retail community and boost tourism in Wellington.

The Council eyes the business events market “which we will lose without responding to redeveloped facilities in Auckland and Christchurch in this lucrative market.”

“We expect Takina to act as a catalyst for [the] rejuvenation of the surrounding area, encouraging other property developers to invest in outstanding architecture,” the Council observed.

The Council calculates Takina will spur tourism and turn Wellington into a destination in its own right. “We want people to come to this area, not just [pass] through it.”

It notes business events visitors “spend significantly more and stay longer in their host city than other tourists.”

An international business tourist spends about 50% more than a regular international tourist, according to the Council.

The Council notes the tourism off-season is a “high season for conventions, with the tourist flow remaining steady for the city through the year.” This has a spin-off impact on local employment.

The City Council foresees Takina will raise Wellington’s profile as a “place of choice for students who can support their studies with regular part-time work.”

Takina already has a busy calendar of conferences and events ahead.

But the big draw currently is Jurassic World, the interactive exhibition featuring life-size dinosaurs built with Lego bricks.

Conceived and executed by Lego enthusiast Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught, the exhibition features 50 life-size dinosaurs, including a replica of the legendary T -Rex, coupled with activities centred on prehistoric themes.

Takina is hosting an open day on Saturday, 15 July 2023 with guided tours of the building for the public.

Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Wellington.

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