If you’ve spent any time in central Christchurch recently you’ve probably spotted the giant Meccano set being constructed next to Cathedral Square. This is Te Pae, the city’s new convention and exhibition centre, which is on track to host its first events late next year.

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One Māori definition of Te Pae is ‘gathering place’, and this iconic facility will certainly bring people together for great events. As well as national and international conferences, there are attractive events for locals in the pipeline.

While Te Pae will be able to host up to 2000 people, many events will be much smaller with the main auditorium able to host two simultaneous events for up to 700 people each.

ChristchurchNZ estimates that the city is currently missing out on about $100 million of direct economic investment every year by not having a purpose-built business events venue. Christchurch has long been a popular host city for business events. Prior to the quakes we punched above our weight with a 24 percent slice of New Zealand’s business event pie. That has now dropped to about eight percent.

With Christchurch being the main gateway to the South Island, and with convenient international flight links, we are attracting a lot of interest from overseas event organisers. Pre-quake 40 percent of all Australasian business events held in New Zealand came to Christchurch.

Te Pae has already booked 65 events with more than 54,000 visitors for the first two years of operation. A key factor in attracting these events is the venue’s central city location, with hotels, restaurants, and other key inner-city attractions all just a short walk away.

Currently Christchurch is a seasonal destination for international visitors with a spike in summer. Significantly, most big business events are held from March to November, so Te Pae will help fill hotel rooms in quieter times.

Business event travellers are lucrative visitors, typically spending twice as much as the average tourist, and often staying on to travel after their event.

Te Pae will also showcase local sector strengths, in areas such as primary production, information technology and various fields of research for example, and build international connections. In the past, people attended conferences to learn but with so much content now online, these events are now more about relationship building. And of course, when events are held here, it’s easier for locals to take part and benefit.

An experienced international venue operator, AEG Ogden will manage Te Pae and provide a world-class experience for visitors to the facility – locals and out-of-towners alike.