Wellington Scoop

Significant step forward: national music centre signs deal to lease Municipal Office Building


News from WCC
Wellington City Council, Victoria University of Wellington, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) have signed an agreement which will see the Municipal Office Building (MOB) become part of a national music centre to house the NZSO and the University’s New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī (NZSM), along with a strengthened and refurbished Wellington Town Hall and the Michael Fowler Centre. The agreement is a major step in the establishment of a national music centre that will transform New Zealand’s arts scene and inspire future generations.

The Council will refurbish MOB and lease it to the national music centre for 25 years. With this agreement Council can now progress detailed design and finalise costings.

“This deal is a significant milestone in securing the future of MOB, which is a crucial part of Te Ngākau Civic Square,” says Mayor Justin Lester. “The national music centre will be home to some of New Zealand’s best musicians and will inject their energy and talent into the central city.

“It is also planned that there will be a café or retail space on the ground floor, which will help activate and make Te Ngākau even more of a people place.

With the NZSO and NZSM in the area, the precinct is intended to expand enormously with options for public access to music and the arts, lunchtime concerts, public lectures, workshops, seminars and art displays. It will also be home to Orchestra Wellington.

Victoria University of Wellington and the NZSO have launched a campaign to raise at least $30 million towards the fit-out of both the Wellington Town Hall and 101 Wakefield Street.

Professor Grant Guilford, Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington, says he is delighted with the encouraging response to the fundraising campaign to date, with 57 percent of the target already raised.

“We’re very grateful to our leadership gift supporters, who have been so generous, and we look forward to working with others who share our vision.

“We believe the national music centre will provide a real uplift for music and music education in this country – the state-of-the-art teaching, rehearsal, research and performance spaces that it will offer will enable an outstanding education for the next generation of musicians. It will allow NZSM’s talented young musicians to study alongside the professional mastery of the NZSO.

“But more than that, it will also be a space where diverse artists and scholars can work with and learn from each other. With jazz and classical voice artists and instrumentalists, composers, sonic artists, musicologists, technology developers, and music therapists all making their home in the national music centre, it will become a national space for new forms of musical innovation and collaboration.”

NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake says the Orchestra is delighted that the Council and University of Wellington have signed the agreement.

“This is a significant step forward for the national music centre, which will include the Wellington Town Hall. The NZSO and NZSM already have close links. Having both organisations under the same roof offers enormous benefits for the Orchestra, students and staff, and new opportunities for us to work together,” he says.

Until recently, the 68-year-old MOB was the home for Council staff but it has largely been vacated ahead of noisy and disruptive work on the Town Hall proceeding.


  1. Greenwelly, 17. June 2019, 17:11

    “… there will be a café or retail space on the ground floor, which will help activate and make Te Ngākau even more of a people place.”
    Seriously, the way to make Civic Square a people place is simple, FIX THE LIBRARY ( and the CAB). Until this is done, a café in the MOB is like whistling at a tornado.

  2. Concerned Wellingtonian, 17. June 2019, 18:12

    25 years is a reasonable length of time to lease something to somebody respectable. Why is the Council leasing waterfront land for a dollar a year to private people for over 100 years?

  3. Grant Guilford, 18. June 2019, 8:35

    With this partnership, at this fantastic location in the heart of Wellington, we intend to do something extraordinary for music and music education in this country. [via twitter]

  4. Ratepayer, 18. June 2019, 9:27

    Grant. Can you please disclose the full (financial) deal? Just asking.

  5. michael, 18. June 2019, 9:58

    What’s happening about the Council coming back to Civic Square as they’ve said they would?

  6. Donald T., 18. June 2019, 10:10

    Well done Grant Guilford! He’s getting Wellington University moving at least.

  7. Ratepayer, 18. June 2019, 10:25

    Michael what a good question. Civic centre without civic?! But the Council did a deal with PWC and is now renting/leasing its building on the Terrace so that PWC could move to its new Willis Bond “wall of buildings” (what was the deal there?) which block off the waterfront and views.
    Let’s have full disclosure by the Council of all these deals…so that we can see who is benefiting and how much the ratepayers are propping up private companies. It’s our money, our rates increases.