Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, WellingtonNZ General Manager David Perks and Kura Moeahu from Te Āti Awa. Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, WellingtonNZ General Manager David Perks and Kura Moeahu from Te Āti Awa.

Ground Broken for Wellington's Convention Centre

The ground has been broken for the Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre, a first-of-its-kind building for the country which will lead the way for resilience and sustainability.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester turned the first sod today at the Cable Street site, opposite Te Papa.

“This building will be New Zealand’s first venue that combines public space with a public exhibition gallery, cafes and a walkway on the ground floor that connects Cable and Wakefield streets,” he says.

“This striking building has been designed to cope with sea level rise. It is base isolated so it will cope with a major earthquake and can serve as an emergency centre afterwards.

“It will also be one of the greenest buildings in the country, with a Five-Star Green rating. As well as the economic benefits its construction and operation will bring, it will revitalise this part of the city and provide a crucial link between the waterfront and the Courtenay Precinct.”

Resource consent was granted last month, ground testing has been carried out and construction crews will commence enabling works shortly. Work is expected to be completed at the end of 2022.  Steel, facades, windows and mechanical plants will be sourced from local businesses.  WellingtonNZ General Manager David Perks says Wellington is missing out on convention business to other cities. It will also add to New Zealand’s convention centre offerings.

 “The WCEC will grow tourism, develop and create new home for culture and support our people with connection and job opportunity. “It will protect and grow Wellington’s market share of the national and international business events market.”  Mr Perks says the WCEC is expected to contribute $156 million to the New Zealand economy (including $76m to the Wellington economy) and support 1520 jobs (including 864 in Wellington).

“But it’s not just about conventions. The exhibition space will be able to host international touring exhibitions such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel and Game of Thrones, which the country is currently missing out on.”

The WCEC will be the capital’s largest built infrastructure investment since the Wellington Regional Stadium was built two decades ago.


Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre facts:

  • A three-storey purpose-built facility will provide around 17,750 sqm of floor space capable of hosting major conventions, exhibitions and associated events.
  • Te Papa anticipates strong demand for this type of offering, complimentary to their existing programme.
  • Visitor projections exceed 272,000 per annum.
  • Achieve excellence in accessibility (platinum standard)
  • Construction is estimated to generate $171 million in total expenditure, $76 million in GDP and 864 new jobs.
  • Operations are estimated to generate and protect $90.6 million in total expenditure, $44.8 million in GDP and 554 new jobs for Wellington City per annum.
  • The economic benefit to NZ from the infrastructure investment is expected to contribute $156.1 million GDP and support 1,520 jobs in the NZ economy.
  • WCEC will be built to an extremely high resilience standard, including base isolation and exceeding 100 percent of the New Building Standard for an IL3 building
  • Steel, facades/windows and mechanical will be supplied by Hutt Valley businesses
  • The design draws inspiration from a wide of sources including Wellington’s maritime location, weather patterns and landforms.
  • It also draws on Maori mythology, specifically Te Ūpoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui head of the fish.
  • The façade is predominately clad in flowing glass panels that include secondary fabric and back panel shapes that will respond to differing light conditions through the day.
  • Base isolation and the diagrid super structure will allow the building to move up to 700mm horizontally during an earthquake, but remain stiff in the upper structure.
  • The ground floor sits 3.5m above sea level to mitigate the risk of surface water flooding entering the building.
  • WCEC will be a genuine 5* green building, incorporating and showcasing meaningful and real sustainability initiatives including rain water harvesting systems and a significant solar power capability (200kva).