Council to consider name for Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre

7 August 2020

Next week Wellington City Councillors will be asked to approve ‘Tākina’ as the name for the Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre currently under construction.

An artist's impression of the centre from Cable Street.

Mayor Andy Foster says Tākina will be great for Wellington culturally and economically.

“Tākina will be an iconic space. Its location and versatility for exhibitions supported by world class hospitality services will strengthen Wellington’s position as the Creative and Cultural Capital.

“Tākina is part of the ongoing regeneration of the city centre, and along with the work underway at the St James Theatre, the Town Hall and elsewhere in the central city we are creating an even more dynamic, vibrant and attractive centre for business and lifestyle. We expect Tākina to be a catalyst for further investment in the area,” says Mayor Foster.

Māori Partnerships portfolio leader Councillor Jill Day says the name Tākina was developed in close collaboration with iwi partners representing Taranaki Whānui, and the Cable Street site opposite Te Papa is an important site for Mana Whenua.

“Tākina is a really strong, memorable name, meaning ‘to invoke’. It is a name that has so many different levels to it and reflects both the building and our city as a place people come together to talk and think,” adds Councillor Day.

As Wellington’s newest civic building, Council had a desire for the building to have an identity and story anchored by the history of the site, its surroundings and its meaning to the city. 

This was an opportunity to bring to life those stories and connections with the cultural history of the city, and create an identity for the centre where visitors won’t just experience a world class venue, but will also be exposed to a unique Wellington experience – Tākina encapsulates all of those elements.

“Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington harbour) is renowned for its unique and diverse winds – from those that rage across the harbour to the softer and more welcoming winds. Wellington is known as the windiest city in the world. We should acknowledge it for what it is. We have no power or control over Tāwhirimātea and how he chooses to behave. We can’t control our environment, but we can learn to certainly respect and appreciate it,” says Kura Moeahu, Chair, Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui Inc.

Taranaki Whānui and Kura Moeahu have gifted a karakia to the Council for the building, which will be presented with the name Tākina at the Council Strategy and Policy Committee on Tuesday 11 August. The karakia represents the numerous and various winds that are unique and pertinent to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.  

Councillor Day says “the Council feels very privileged to have been gifted this beautiful taonga.  

Project update

Post lockdown the team was quickly back to work on-site. All the ground works and piling have been completed and the base isolators largely installed. The ground floor is being laid and we will soon see the steel structure rising above the hoardings.

COVID-19 has created a slight delay to the construction, with the building due to be completed February 2023, followed by completion of fit-out and commissioning of services and testing.

Councillor Diane Calvert says that early marketing activities have started and pencil bookings have already been taken.

“It’s great to watch the building taking shape and to be seeing interest coming in from convention and conference providers. Tākina will also host some amazing and very personal encounters, from world class exhibits that draw people from afar, to conferences and exhibitions that change how the world thinks. It will add to the vitality and vibrancy of our city and further stimulate local business in the area,” says Councillor Calvert.

Background

Council approved the Wellington and Convention Centre in December 2018. Construction started in 2019 and is due to be completed by February 2023.

It will be the Capital’s first purpose-built facility able to host conventions of up to 1400 delegates and offering 18,000sq metres of conference and exhibition gallery space over three floors.

Along with the convention centre, Wellingtonians will also gain a brand-new 1280-square-metre exhibition gallery space, which will accommodate large, internationally significant exhibitions and draw in visitors predominately from around Wellington, New Zealand and trans-Tasman.

Built on a Council-owned site on Cable Street, opposite Te Papa Tongarewa, the centre is close to one of the City’s biggest tourist attractions, the vibrant entertainment districts and the waterfront.

The purpose-built facility is expected to bring in business worth around $45 million a year in GDP to Wellington's economy.