Wellington Scoop

Delayed till 2023: Convention Centre to be named Tākina – it’ll be iconic, says mayor

convention centre latest Aug 2020

News from Wellington City Council
Wellington city councillors will next week be asked to approve ‘Tākina’ as the name for the Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre that’s now being built.

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 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.

The Council’s 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.

The 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.

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’s Strategy and Policy Committee on Tuesday. The karakia represents the numerous and various winds that are unique to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

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

Project update

All the groundworks 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 in February 2023, followed by completion of fit-out and commissioning of services and testing.

Councillor Diane Calvert says 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.


The Council approved the Wellington and Convention Centre in December 2018. Construction started in 2019.

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.

The 1280-square-metre exhibition gallery space will accommodate large, internationally significant exhibitions and draw in visitors predominately from around Wellington, New Zealand and Australia.

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 entertainment districts and the waterfront.

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

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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  1. Lyndon Hood, 7. August 2020, 18:42

    Does any sense apply that might make Tākina a good name for an exhibition and convention centre? [via twitter]

  2. Geoff Stahl, 7. August 2020, 18:44

    Might I suggest “The White Elephant”? [via twitter]

  3. Hel, 7. August 2020, 19:04

    Looks stunning, not a popular view on here but absolutely something this city has needed for a long time.

  4. Breadcrumb, 7. August 2020, 19:18

    Geoff, you might have more luck with Te Arewhana Ma. Personally I find Toroa more fitting.

  5. Peter S, 7. August 2020, 19:27

    Iconic what? Iconic black hole for ratepayers’ money. It was with dismay that I sat at the council meeting in December 2018 and watched all 15 councillors vote for this monument to the 1970’s. That’s hardly representative of the constituents of Wellington, is it?
    I recall the interesting contrast between 2 teenagers imploring the councillors to consider climate change, and Mr Know-it-all from the Chamber of Commerce waxing lyrical with the usual “growth is good” mantra.
    Only time will tell of course, but when it turns out to be a millstone for the city’s finances, it will all be blamed on Covid.

  6. TrevorH, 7. August 2020, 20:09

    Takina? How about “On the Take”, taking from you and me and future generations that is. This Council is a disgrace to Wellington.

  7. Jane Little, 8. August 2020, 9:42

    There’s one being built in Christchurch as well. Why are we spending millions on these white elephants? [via twitter]

  8. Wellington City Council, 8. August 2020, 9:56

    Kia ora Jane, we are building this because it is expected to bring in business worth around $45 million a year in GDP to Wellington’s economy. [via twitter]

  9. Alan, 8. August 2020, 9:59

    Surely “iconic” is a misprint. Shouldn’t it be “ironic”?

  10. Dr Jennie Condie, 8. August 2020, 9:59

    Like it or not, we are committed to this building. All we can do now is work together to make it a success. The exhibit space is fantastic, convention space still viable post-covid as it targets trans Tasman bubble. And soon it will have a new name, giving us a fresh start. [via twitter]

  11. Traveller, 8. August 2020, 10:07

    What budget is the city council able to afford for curating and creating “internationally significant exhibitions” that will “draw people from afar” and will “change how the world thinks.” Are these costs included in the ten-year plan? Is there to be a new council department for exhibitions? Big exhibitions are enormously expensive – so much so that in recent years Te Papa (with its enormous budget) has presented very few of them.

  12. Simon, 8. August 2020, 10:11

    It feels like we had to choose between a functioning waste water system and a convention centre and WCC chose the latter. [via twitter]

  13. Rebecca Matthews, 8. August 2020, 10:12

    Is it more important than the central library or water infrastructure? No definitely not. If there was a way to divert resources from this to those I would support it. This vote is just about the name. [via twitter]

  14. Concerned Wellingtonian, 8. August 2020, 10:13

    Answering Councillor Condie: the people who have pushed for this are all qualified to be members of the Chamber of Commerce. This is because they get all the benefits and residential ratepayers get none.
    What steps are you taking to ensure that the losses are all charged against business ratepayers?

  15. TrevorH, 8. August 2020, 10:53

    @Wellington City Council: I read the business case. It rejected MBIE projections of demand for convention services based on experience pre COVID and favoured fanciful estimates suggested by the consultants which look even more ridiculous today. Laughable if it wasn’t such a waste of scarce resources.

  16. Alan, 8. August 2020, 11:11

    Jenny Condie, a new name will not make a scrap of difference to this building. It will still remain a financial millstone around ratepayers’ necks.

  17. Tui, 8. August 2020, 11:24

    Enjoying the latest renders of the facade. Never really liked the previous design, so hopefully this one sticks.

  18. Lindsay, 8. August 2020, 11:35

    Vagueness from the council website about the exhibition space and the council’s intention to become entrepreneurial. (The overheads will be high):

    The ground floor will include a 1,280sqm Exhibition Gallery that will be the largest in NZ. The Gallery will attract locals and visitors to see the global entertaining and inspiring exhibitions that will be on show. Locally developed and curated exhibitions will be premiered here before touring offshore – exhibitions that showcase the creative talents of Wellington and New Zealand.

  19. Lindsay, 8. August 2020, 11:39

    And defensiveness, also from the council website:

    Wellington has been a successful convention destination for many years but at the same time has been hampered by the lack of high-quality venues. Although the world of mega conferences might look different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the small to medium-sized events the centre is designed for will remain very relevant, and will meet the needs of the national and Asia-Pacific market.

  20. Traveller, 8. August 2020, 11:51

    The Regional Development Agency still believes the convention centre will be completed in 2022.

  21. Local, 8. August 2020, 12:00

    Wellington “has been a successful convention destination for many years.” Has it? Where? All the facilities for large gatherings have been closed – Town Hall (same capacity as the Convention Centre), St James, the awful TSB arena with whatever is its latest name and its outrageous hiring costs, loss-making Michael Fowler Centre with its limited convention space, heavily subsidised, not forgetting WREDA or whatever its latest name is. Makes my head and heart and pocket hurt.
    The Council, its decisions and its press comments should be evidence based, and not just the ‘fake news’ (hate that term) that it clearly is here.

  22. Jackson, 8. August 2020, 12:45

    Too right Jennie, we are looking forward to supporting the centre by hosting kids birthday parties there. The kids will love the fish (or whale?) and proximity to Te Papa

  23. Polly, 8. August 2020, 12:48

    Back in February 2015 Radio NZ had an interview with Professor Heywood Sanders one of America’s leading Urban Development experts and author of “Convention Centre Follies” and he questioned the real economic benefits of Convention Centres… so what has changed, especially with the world currently in “lock down.

  24. TrevorH, 8. August 2020, 14:55

    Yes Polly, here’s the link to the lecture Sanders gave on Convention Centre Follies at the Kansas City Public Library (they still have one, lucky people) back in 2015:

  25. Dave B, 8. August 2020, 15:55

    I wish WCC would just admit that it made a mistake in committing us to this. Continually hearing councillors trying to justify the unjustifiable gets tedious.

    Anyone remember “Sesqui”? The 1990 carnival that the council backed with similar-sounding predictions of the huge quantity of money it would bring in, etc. It flopped miserably and ratepayers had to foot the bill.

  26. TrevorH, 8. August 2020, 17:40

    Dave B. No one alive at the time (1990) can forget Sesqui and its cute opposum mascot “Pesky Sesky”. An icon of corporate and Council mismanagement and administrative failure, the very ethos of Wellington. Thanks for the memory!

  27. Benoit Pette, 8. August 2020, 19:22

    On the council website, the convention centre is described as a facility for Asia Pacific. Yet I remember at least one councillor saying she was happy with it because it was mostly designed for domestic market, thus having a limited carbon footprint. So, who to believe? Is this convention centre for overseas visitors, in a climate emergency era, or is it to attract New Zealanders?

  28. Conor Hill, 8. August 2020, 20:01

    I say we vote for the new name – Lester’s Liability or Milford’s Mistake?

  29. Dullard, 8. August 2020, 22:14

    Had to look up Sesqui, what a laugh, almost feel bad I wasn’t around to witness it (or not). Sounds like a blueprint that’s been used by the council ever since. In fact there’s probably still a few geezers responsible for it shuffling around the council offices. Once Tākina is open I imagine it will be “our civic duty to attend”.

  30. Beggars Belief, 9. August 2020, 6:14

    I just got my rates bill in the mail – it’s gone up by $60 and I am now paying over $800 a quarter – extra money I am going to have to find to pay for the ridiculous choices this council is trying to justify including this conference centre. Giving it a “new name” does nothing to diminish the fact that most of the rate payers don’t want it.

  31. Andy Linton, 9. August 2020, 9:07

    We can only hope that this building can be converted into a new library. Madness!

  32. Local, 9. August 2020, 19:08

    Nothing wrong with the existing library except it’s closed and is an exemplar of another a failure of Council to take action and make it safer by simply fixing the floors, parts of the stairway and panels on the outside.

  33. Mavis, 9. August 2020, 20:05

    Is anyone else having problems with the name ‘Tākina’? The council says it means “to invoke.“ But how does that relate to anything? The te reo dictionary doesn’t help me either:
    taki (-na)
    1. (verb) (-na) to tow with a line, entice, challenge, begin or continue a speech, recite, make a speech.
    2. (verb) (-na) to lead, bring along, lead a song.
    Kāti te riri, whakarērea hoki te ārita; kei mamae koe, kei tākina kia mahi i te kino (PT Ngā Waiata 37:8). / Do not be angry, and forsake wrath; lest you be hurt or led into evil deeds.
    3. (verb) (tākina) to recite.
    Ka tākina ēnei karakia e te tohunga (Te Ara 2014). / These ritual chants were recited by the tohunga.
    4. (verb) (-na) to rise – used in the passive for the rising of stars and heavenly bodies.
    Tākina mai rā ngā huihui o Matariki, Puanga, Tautoru, ka ngaro Atutahi māna e whakarewa te tini whetū riki ka rewa kei runga (TJ 11/5/1899:4). / “The constellations of the Pleiades, Rigel, Orion rise and Canopus disappears and elevates the many small stars suspended above.”
    Maybe I shouldn’t be so curious. After all, it’s only a name for an “ iconic building.” But how will I explain its name to all the thousands of convention-goers?

  34. BrooklynBrooklyn, 10. August 2020, 9:42

    I still can’t believe they’re going ahead with this. Embarrassing.

    Let’s get our water sorted, fix the damn library and find a solution for landfill that isn’t just “make the dump site bigger”. So much more important.

  35. Guy M, 10. August 2020, 10:59

    Mavis – thanks for the korero. I’m not an expert in te Reo at all, but I’ve learnt that words in Maori can have multiple meanings and interpretations, depending on situation and iwi (huruhuru being an enjoyable recent example, which has got some people by the short and curlies….).

    Tākina – A word that means entice, challenge, recite, lead a song, to rise – as well as invoke – all of these words would seem to work quite well with a place designed for a collecting point for people to talk, sing, challenge thinking, present new ideas etc. If the iwi advisors have OK’d Tākina, then I’m happy for that to be the name. Ka pai, e hoa.

  36. A J Corlett, 14. August 2020, 17:55

    Agree with many comments above. Is there even one person elected to Wellington’s City Council who can rise above the mire of spin and say “The Emperor has no clothes”?

  37. michael, 18. August 2020, 21:46

    “It will be the Capital’s first purpose-built facility able to host conventions of up to 1400 delegates …” = just a shame there aren’t enough spare hotel beds in Wellington for the delegates bypassing the amazing $479 million government-funded conference centre in Christchurch!

  38. Toni, 18. August 2020, 21:49

    Just shows the council can make the really important decisions when necessary. Wellington couldn’t have lasted much longer without a name for the convention centre.