Wellington Scoop

Suddenly: a hi-tech precinct emerges


Wellington’s long-discussed hi-tech precinct is emerging more rapidly than anyone could have anticipated.

During the election campaign, there was much talk about the need for the council to create such a precinct. Cuba Street was mentioned. Then on Friday, a Massey academic wrote in the DomPost that Wellington needed …

… to concentrate its creative energy, building on the proximity of cultural institutions such as Te Papa and the City Gallery on the waterfront… The benefits of focusing and leveraging such cultural vibrancy run to the millions of dollars.

The next day, developer Ian Cassels announced that he’d bought the old Manthel Building on the corner of Taranaki and Wakefield Streets and had secured Xero as his major tenant.

And Xero announced that the 1920s building, within view of its headquarters across the intersection in the equally-historic Market Lane building, would be branded Xero Two, and staff would be moving in at the end of the year. One of the city’s most high-profile hi-tech companies wasn’t waiting for someone else to create a precinct – it was doing it itself.

We are excited about the location and unique character of the building … This area really is Wellington’s “hi-tech precinct”, with Trade Me, NZX, Infratil and other firms nearby. It is close to transport for commuting staff and there are plenty of cafes and facilities nearby. It’s fantastic to be able to use our growth to revitalize character spaces in this beautiful city.

We now have offices in Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Milton Keynes, London, San Francisco and Denver and a number of smaller facilities in other cities. We are benefiting from a strong culture and extensive use of online technology in dealing with multiple locations, ensuring there are regular team and cross-team meetings and using collaborative cloud services such as Google Docs, Yammer, Skype and Office 365. Wellington has the most staff and numbers may reach over 350 by the end of FY14.

And Xero is likely to continue to grow. In today’s DomPost, Terry Hall tells how Xero’s share price began the year at $7.55 and peaked last week at over $41.


Ian Cassels’ company started work (top picture) today on refurbishing the future Xero Two, ready for staff to move in next month when the building’s new look (above) is completed.

It’s great for Wellington that Cassels takes a different view from his fellow developer Mark Dunajtschik, who wants to demolish the 85-year-old heritage Harcourts Building on Lambton Quay. Speaking of his 93-year-old acquisition on Wakefield Street, Cassels says

“I don’t think we’d ever contemplate knocking it down. But we could do a lot of better things, like building up through the centre of it.

And Xero shares his view, with its chief executive Rod Drury saying:

Wellington is a fantastic place to build a global business with the talent, creativity, passing and diversity the city attracts. Being able to use our growth to revitalise character spaces in our beautiful city is something our team is very proud of.

It’s time for Mark Dunajtschik to pay attention to these opinions, and to give up on his dogged determination to demolish the part of Wellington’s heritage which he owns on Lambton Quay.


  1. Ian S, 11. November 2013, 20:02

    We know who would have claimed this ‘achievement’ if he had won the election. Congratulations to all actively involved.

  2. JC, 12. November 2013, 7:45

    This is awesome, but I’m not sure that companies like Infratil and NZX are what the council is talking about when talks about a “hi-tech” precinct.

  3. erentz, 12. November 2013, 11:35

    This precinct business is silly. It’s not like you declare a “high tech precinct”, and then *boom*, lots of tech companies show up. Wellington is small enough that the whole of the city can be a “high tech precinct.” Companies will locate wherever it makes sense for them to do so, and that has nothing to do with a label applied to a few small city blocks.

  4. Pauline, 12. November 2013, 14:06

    Another victory for heritage buildings. Mr Dunajtschik should buy himself a meal at the new restaurant in the heritage Huddart Parker Building, built in 1925, where (as David Burton reported in Saturday’s DomPost) the owners spent $14 million earthquake strengthening, with massive carbon fibre wrapped pillars and new ceiling beams which offer both reassurance and a sense of grandeur. And well done to Mr Cassels who has redeemed himself (he wanted to pull down the Town Hall).