Wellington Scoop

Jackson and City Council cancel their plans for a movie museum


News from WCC
The Wellington City Council and the Movie Museum Limited have today announced a mutually-agreed parting of the ways for a joint project between the Council’s Convention Centre and TMML’s Movie Museum, which were proposed for Cable Street in central Wellington. Both parties remain optimistic for the future of their respective projects.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says that the decision was mutual and came after a series of meetings and correspondence between the two organisations. The Mayor confirms that the two sides had given the idea of a joint project the best possible shot, but that it had become apparent that Wellingtonians would be better served with the Movie Museum and the Convention Centre as two separate assets.

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger said that “despite the best efforts of all parties, the economics of the Cable Street location proved to be a challenge for the movie museum.

“We remain committed to the creation of a Movie Museum in Wellington and will now be considering other options.”

The Mayor says he is pleased that Sir Peter and Sir Richard are committed to a movie museum for Wellington and that he looks forward to their vision being realised.

The Wellington City Council is looking forward to moving ahead with the Convention Centre.

“We are now gearing up for a sod-turning in 2019,” says the Mayor. “This will be a welcome development for Wellington’s business, hospitality and accommodation sectors as it will mean the city will be equipped to host larger conferences and conventions.”

Along with the Convention Centre, Wellingtonians will also gain a brand-new 1500 square metre exhibition space which will be able to accommodate large, internationally significant exhibitions and draw in visitors from around Wellington, New Zealand and internationally.

The Council is in talks with Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum – about a partnership for the operation of the exhibition space.

“Exhibition spaces around the world are undergoing a renaissance, particularly with the fusion of art and technology. We expect this space to be a game changer that not only brings the best of the world to New Zealand, but also gives a platform for our own creative sector to think big,” the Mayor says.

Geraint Martin, Chief Executive of Te Papa, says the museum is excited to work in tandem with the Council, given Te Papa’s experience, international standing and the proximity of the proposed site and the synergies between the two organisations.

“We are looking forward to working with the Council to realise this opportunity for Wellington,” he said.

The Council expects to lodge the resource consent for the Convention Centre and exhibition space within the coming months

TMML is the company established by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger to develop and operate a museum attraction in Wellington showcasing theirs and their companies’ work in the film industry in Wellington over the past 25 years and incorporating their own collections.


  1. Lindsay, 14. August 2018, 19:24

    Many questions to be answered. To start: does the city council still intend to spend $150m on the building which it said would house a “film-based visitor experience unrivalled anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, and possibly the world.” ? The decision to spend $150m, taken in 2016, was “conditional upon getting final go-ahead from the Movie Museum.”

  2. Traveller, 14. August 2018, 20:21

    Does Te Papa really have enough spare cash to pay the annual rental and the enormous fitout costs which proved to be too much for Jackson’s well-heeled company?

  3. Lindsay, 14. August 2018, 21:46

    I see the Mayor is quoted tonight as saying the cost of the building will be “closer to $180million.” How can the council afford to go ahead without the major rent-paying drawcard?

  4. City Lad, 15. August 2018, 0:21

    The City Council paid far too much for the land and have been paying commercial property rates ever since (as required by law). It’s time to sell and pay off council debt.

  5. Concerned Wellingtonian, 15. August 2018, 6:51

    I trust that this latest disappointment is put on the Agenda for tomorrow’s City Strategy Committee Meeting. I want to hear the questions from councillors on the subject. After all the hype from the mayor they need to get to the bottom of what has really been going on.

  6. TrevorH, 15. August 2018, 7:44

    It seems the reprieve for ratepayers was fleeting at best. The Council apparently intends to press ahead with an even more expensive building which will never cover its costs and which will require a substantial ratepayer subsidy every year to meet its operating costs. Convention centres are a 1970s’ folly. They temporarily raise the market value of nearby businesses like restaurants and hotels who are effectively subsidised by the wider community. Time for a breather please.

  7. Myrtle, 15. August 2018, 7:53

    This all seems very odd. There could be a sod turning in 2019 … is that an election year?
    Sod turning costs nothing. But a convention centre?? Really? And the exhibition space?

    Could the Council/mayor stop talking in veiled riddles and just tell us what is really planned?
    What it will cost, who will pay for it and who will use it?

  8. Ian Apperley, 15. August 2018, 8:43

    Hey Justin, the 1950’s called and want the Convention Centre back.

  9. Lindsay, 15. August 2018, 9:41

    Will the mayor be seeking agreement from his councillors to go ahead with spending $180m on a new building which will not include one of the two key tenants? The last council vote (to spend $150million) was conditional on a deal with the movie museum.

  10. greenwelly, 15. August 2018, 10:57

    A 1500sqm exhibit space for Te Papa totally changes what was originally proposed and doesn’t add up.

    The proposed 3-storey building was to be 16,700 sqm ( page 6 ) with a ~6000 sqm convention centre [1 floor] on top ( page 28). Meaning the Movie Museum was approximately 10,000 sqm (2 floors). Now we are told the “exhibition space” will be 1500 sqm. So what is happening to the remaining 8500 sqm? To put it in context, 8500 sqm is roughly the size of the new exhibition hall at the ICC in Auckland, it’s a big area.

    Is the convention centre increasing in size from ~6000 to ~15000 sq m? If so, this is a pretty big variation being undertaken with no consultation. Or is going to be left vacant? Again this seriously alters the Business case,

    So come on WCC – come clean on what is actually happening.

  11. Rumpole, 15. August 2018, 12:36

    Willis Bond & Co were given sole rights to the site. October next year is the opportunity to replace the mayor and discontinue this cosy relationship.

  12. Morris Oxford, 15. August 2018, 17:01

    I’ll be voting for Rumpole. Who else will be standing for the Council?

  13. Myrtle1, 15. August 2018, 18:49

    What is it? What will it cost? Who will pay for it? Who will use it? Mr mayor, trust works both ways. We will trust you but only if you will trust us with true information instead of those veiled riddles.

  14. Andy Foster, 16. August 2018, 7:59

    All good questions. In the view of many if not most councillors it is fine to say ‘now we will look at a convention centre on its own’ but it is very premature to be talking about turning a sod. While some people clearly were not keen on the movie museum, councillors were, and when we consulted on the issue (and we all realise that is not necessarily determinative of public opinion) the vast majority of respondents were very supportive.
    The movie museum would have been something quite different, an attraction unique to Wellington. Maybe it will happen but obviously despite best endeavours not here and not now.
    However a convention centre is completely different. It requires a solid business and economic impact case in its own right. I struggle to imagine how we would not have to pretty much completely rethink a building when the proposed occupier of 2/3rds of it is no longer participating. A 1500 sq metre exhibition space is a far cry from a 10,000 sq metre film museum. That should also mean a completely different set of costings.
    So all your questions are very good and reasonable ones. We don’t have answers yet.

  15. Josie B., 16. August 2018, 9:00

    Andy – Leave the Convention Centre to the private sector! Not a cent of ratepayer money should be spent on it.

    How many more conferences will Wellington attract than it does now?

    I can see Lester and Co arguing that we will also need a runway extension to bring in all the delegates from Miami.

  16. Benny, 16. August 2018, 9:22

    If we have the cash to spend $180m, then having a working, clean, reliable public transport service doesn’t seem out of reach. Why don’t we get the basics right first and make sure Wellingtonians’ way of living is looked after? Who needs a convention centre when you can’t get there, because of lack of buses, or too much traffic?

  17. Barbara S, 16. August 2018, 14:43

    I agree with you Benny.

  18. Grace, 16. August 2018, 21:05

    Perhaps the convention centre can be profitable if it has a Casino?

  19. Andy Foster, 17. August 2018, 8:01

    Hi Josie B, Benny and Barbara, just to be clear – I am not advocating for or against investing in a convention centre. There is no doubt Wellington’s convention facilities are limited even when the Amora comes back into action. We’ve obviously done work on how many more conventions Wellington would expect from a new facility, but that is likely to be reduced somewhat without the unique offering of the movie museum in the same building.
    What I was saying in my earlier post is that the cost of a stand alone convention centre at around 5000 square metres (or maybe it includes other activities – retail, residential, performance venue) should be markedly lower than the much bigger building (16,000 square metres) including the movie museum.
    At this stage it seems to me there is work to be done on whether anything else goes with a convention centre, and the revised design, cost and economic impact numbers.

  20. Lindsay, 17. August 2018, 8:39

    Andy: A smaller building may now be considered? An obstacle against turning the first sod for the original building minus the movie museum is that the council vote to pay for it was “conditional upon getting final go-ahead from the Movie Museum.” Without that go-ahead, the decision is invalid.

  21. PCGM, 17. August 2018, 9:34

    Proceeding with a project of that size with no lead tenant would be commercial suicide for ratepayers.

  22. Lindsay, 17. August 2018, 14:42

    WREDA hasn’t noticed that the city council’s decision to pay for the new building was conditional on a go-ahead from the Movie Museum. Ignoring the fact that there is no such go-ahead, WREDA says we must “press go now” or we’ll “keep missing out.”

  23. Myrtle 2., 17. August 2018, 18:59

    This is still very odd. Veiled riddles from the mayor, and now Councillor Foster suggesting the Council could continue to use rates to fund a dead duck. What are the views of other councillors? Are they intent, as the mayor seems to be, on “pressing ahead” ?? How much has been spent to date on consultants, legal advisers, and council officers’ time on all of this?

  24. Neil Douglas, 17. August 2018, 23:12

    Andy – I recall asking Wellington for help to bring an Australasian transport conference here a few years ago. Nothing materialised. So I asked Auckland the next time and the answer was a yes and they put on a successful conference. It’s not just the infrastructure, it’s the attitude.

  25. Andy Foster, 18. August 2018, 6:11

    Hi Myrtle and Lindsay – I thought I was being clear. In my view, and I know that of many of my colleagues, this (convention centre) is now a new project. It will need to stack up on its own two feet. It must need to be substantially redesigned as the movie museum was to occupy 2/3rds of the originall-planned building. What else, if anything, goes into any building will also need to be thought about. The cost should be much much lower. The economic benefits will also be much much lower. The economic impact is about the one thing we have a reasonable handle on, though even that will change as a convention facility without the museum will be a bit less attractive.
    At this stage there are more questions than answers for councillors as there are for you. We will work through those with some speed, and you will undoubtedly see more information sooner rather than later.

  26. Andrew, 18. August 2018, 9:16

    Andy, it sounds like a ground up re/design project, consents, etc. Surely the Mayor is kidding himself and others by thinking the work will start in 2019?

  27. Farmer Bill, 18. August 2018, 9:25

    I can see more money for a Big 4 Accountancy Company! Another 300+ page ‘Business Case’ by EY, KPMG, PwC or Deloitte selling Justin’s idea to us. No wonder they refer to Government as “The Dairy” as it’s full of cash cows!