The History

Christchurch’s original Convention Center was opened in November of 1997 by the mayor at the time – Vicki Buck. The fragmented concrete box was a success, sporting a glass facade with a large glass air bridge connecting it to the esteemed Crowne Plaza Hotel.

This was the very first convention center in the South Island and was able to host 2,500 people through seven breakout rooms and three halls. Sadly the building was left damaged by the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and was later demolished, leaving Christchurch without a suitable event hub that could cater to large numbers.

The Problem

The Industry partnership manager for tourism Caroline Blanchfield stated in a news article that “the lack of suitable conference venue is costing local economy more that $90m each year”, as the city is forced to turn down important conferences due to lack of space.

Thanks to Ōtākaro and Woods Bagot in conjunction with CPB contractors LTD and Warren & Mahoney, Christchurch will be treated with their very own convention center by the year of 2020.

The Emergence Of Te Pae

The plans for this convention center are colossal, spanning two blocks bordering on Armagh Street, Oxford Terrace, Cathedral Square and Colombo Street. There will be a large glass fronted foyer with an 8 meter high main entrance facing towards the Avon River, a 5 star hotel within walking distance on the south side, and administrative and retail space on the Colombo Street side.

This extensive build will utilize 26000 m3 of concrete, 4400 tons of structural steel and 429,000 individual facade panels. Boasting a budget of $425m, this lavish world-class convention center will hold approximately 2000 guests and will include a 1400 seat auditorium with movable partitions, 200-booth exhibition hall, banquet hall and 24 meeting rooms.

The Meaning Of Te Pae

However, this building is about a whole lot more than just concrete and panels. This precinct has been gifted with the name of “Te Pai” (pronounced teh pie), meaning ‘gathering place’ in the native language of Te Reo Māori.

The influence of the Māori and their culture can be seen throughout the interior and exterior design, incorporating the heart and soul of the native people with the comforts, flair and necessities of the corporate world.

The exterior design concepts of Te Pai were inspired by the Ngāi Tahu story of the creation of the great Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island; the 429,000 external facade panels resembling the colors and contours of Canterbury’s braided rivers that flow from the mountain glaciers and into streams and lakes.

This theme of Ngāi Tahu influence is continued throughout the whole precinct, utilizing timber and stone to mimic the feel of being in New Zealand wilderness.

The Progress

With the finish date of 2020 looming there is still plenty of work to be done in time for two major conferences already announced for 2021, progress approaches steadily.

The first foundation concrete in the south wing was poured in November of 2017, the Ōtākaro chief Albert Brantley states “Construction is nearly 20% complete…” and “…work is on track to have the center hosting events in the second half of 2020”.

The main purpose of this beautiful new convention center is to target events entwined in Canterbury’s core including agriculture and earth sciences, Antarctica, and to educate the public and corporate on issues regarding our beautiful country. Build7 would like to wish the best of luck for all involved; our team is behind you all of the way.