Wellington Scoop

Council to spend $134m building movie museum and convention centre

News from WCC
At an extraordinary meeting this afternoon, the Wellington City Council voted unanimously to purchase land opposite Te Papa, between Wellington’s Cable and Wakefield Streets, for a movie museum and convention centre.

The project will provide a unique experience unparalleled in the Australasian market.

The Council agreed in principle to build a movie museum together with a new purpose-built convention centre on the site. The Council will partner with private interests headed by Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Sir Richard Taylor, and Tania Rodger, to deliver the movie museum, which will celebrate the film heritage of Wellington, identifying the Capital as the home of film where five of the world’s 12 highest-grossing films of all time were produced.

The Council will purchase the land and construct the three-level building which will include an up to 1100-delegate convention centre on the top floor. The Movie Museum will lease the lower two floors from the Council and fit out and operate the space.

The combined facility, including the land, will cost an estimated $134 million, providing 440 construction jobs and, once the facility opens, create 483 new jobs in addition to protecting 85 existing jobs in the conference sector. This investment will build on the precinct around the national museum and be a catalyst for this area.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the new purpose-built convention centre and a movie museum to celebrate the contribution by the film sector to our culture and economy are both part of Wellington’s economic growth plan.

“The Convention Centre is back on track and looking better than ever,” says the Mayor. “The combined facility will provide jobs and deliver another major attraction for tourists to visit and stay longer in the Capital, in a perfect location.

“This will be a unique convention centre for the Australasian market, transforming our offering from a service facility to an amazing experience for visitors, delegates and tourists alike.”

Chair of the Economic Growth and Arts Committee, Cr Jo Coughlan, says the Council’s decision is a major milestone in its strategy to boost economic development within the city, and protects a key industry for the Capital.

“Wellington ranks second behind Auckland with 17 per cent of the New Zealand convention market, earning around $146 million for the Capital each year and supporting 1000 jobs,” says Cr Coughlan.

“A new purpose-built convention centre will protect that business and grow it by about 10 per cent – about 67 new events delivering around 62,000 delegate days.

“The Movie Museum will attract 310,000 people by year three, adding another “must see” attraction to Wellington and further elevate Wellington as a ‘must visit’ destination. This investment is great for the city,” she says.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester says the Wellington City Long Term Plan 2015-2025 received overwhelmingly positive feedback on both the movie museum and convention centre proposals. “Our financial position is strong, which has enabled Council to secure the land to enable this project,” he says.

“Benefits for Wellington alone are estimated at $36 million during the construction and, once operational, $38 million GDP per annum will be generated and protected – this will be a significant economic input for the city,” says Cr Lester.

Mayor Wade-Brown adds: “The Matamata tourist attraction Hobbiton Movie Set Tours is now a major New Zealand visitor destination with more than 350,000 visitors alone, and the successful Great War and Gallipoli Exhibitions show how film talents can be translated into enthralling exhibitions.”

Further public consultation on the combined facility is scheduled for February / March 2016. Oral hearings will be heard March, and a final business case will guide Council’s final decision on the combined convention centre and movie museum initiative, expected to be in April.

The Town Hall is being considered as the core of a national music centre in the civic precinct and draft designs will be produced in early 2016.

Today’s vote was taken behind closed doors
Movie Museum gives its vision to councillors


  1. Anabel, 9. December 2015, 8:47

    More financial misconduct proposed by the WCC. You would think the producers of five of the the 12 highest-grossing films of all time could afford to risk funding their own movie museum (with its $40 per person admission tickets).

  2. Mayor Celia, 9. December 2015, 9:57

    The Movie Museum Ltd will both paying a lease and for the fit-out of the museum.

  3. CC, 9. December 2015, 11:16

    Since Willis Bond is involved, will the lease be like the deals that they’ve negotiated for other ratepayer land assets – $1 per annum. And is this another deal hidden behind the ‘commercial sensitivity’ screen?

  4. Michael, 9. December 2015, 13:37

    What sort of lease? Paying for your own fit out is usual – not a big win. The lease could cover a myriad of “soft” options…it would be useful if there could be an investigation at least of the broad commercial terms – e.g. how much of this “anchor lease” will add to the return on the land purchase and build costs? This would determine the real risk profile of this purchase/ build to the city. And who will have the management contract of the Convention Centre? [One of the many reports over the last 24 hours has said that the council’s Positively Wellington Venues will administer the council’s convention centre.]

  5. Anabel, 9. December 2015, 15:06

    Good questions Michael. Here is how these Private Public Partnerships work: the public fund the risks while the private partnership profits off it. Public loss private gain. That’s the current business model of the WCC. Why don’t they get the “5 top profitable movies” to pay for the whole private venture? Why would they think it’s appropriate that ratepayers have to subsidize and risk manage for big business!?

  6. Michael Gibson, 9. December 2015, 17:12

    A good follow-up from Anabel to Michael (not me by the way). However, we have the Mayor’s word for it that no ratepayer’s funds will be involved – she said this on the front page and also agreed when I repeated this twice in “Public Participation” at the Council’s crucial Extraordinary Meeting.

  7. Traveller, 9. December 2015, 17:44

    But … how will the city council be able to spend $134m without using any ratepayers’ funds?

  8. Michael Gibson, 9. December 2015, 18:02

    How can one keep up!? Yes, Traveller, this has puzzled me but, luckily, we have the Mayor’s word for it (three times!)

  9. CC, 9. December 2015, 20:11

    It is simple really. The business sector collect 47% of the Council ‘rates income’ from clients, customers and consumers and pass it on to the WCC. So – technically the income is not rates but the business contribution (as collection agents) toward the running of the city. When it gets to the Council coffers, it then gets spent on what the business sector thinks will enhance their profits – eagerly supported by gullible Councillors who forget who elects them. So, money comes out of the ratepayers’ pockets without being acknowledged by the Mayor as ratepayers funds. Confused? That is the purpose of the WCC smoke and mirrors charade!

  10. Esjay, 10. December 2015, 15:53

    Spot on CC. But how much of this expenditure was accounted for in the LTP? Then there is some sort of proposal for an indoor events centre isn’t there? All open cheque book stuff of course, the formula of the 8 Big Ideas.
    Where will the extra funds come from when and if WIAL seeks more of a handout when the final costing of the runway is made public?

  11. CC, 10. December 2015, 17:28

    Esjay – what do you think the Mayor’s trip to China was about? Just think about who she had tagging along with her and what part they play in the big spend-up glee club! Yep – it looks like the renminbi will flow freely in the short term and ratepayers will have their the depths of their pockets syphoned for many generations to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the ‘do it now and to hell with the consequences’ brigade.