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The Influencers: John Bridgman

It’s not just the number of seats in the auditorium that the organisers of international conventions look at when selecting their next venue in a globally competitive sector.

John Bridgman
Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

Transport, hospitality and quality of accommodation are also crucial in the decision-making process. So, it’s great for Christchurch that Ōtākaro recently secured a development agreement with the Carter Group for up to four hotels on the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre site, including one five-star hotel.

A five-star hotel near the venue is a requirement for what are considered marquee international events. These sorts of events will help Te Pae Christchurch stimulate the nearly $100m worth of economic activity each year it’s estimated the city is currently missing out on.

A five-star offering will certainly add a string to the marketing bow of our operator ASM Global, which now has 40 confirmed events and around another 120 interested in coming to Christchurch once Te Pae is open in October.

Our agreement with the Carter Group also enables new developments by the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch to the north of Armagh St, along the Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct. This will allow this award-winning Anchor Project to reach its full potential as a place for people.

These new developments will use a third of the vacant private land in Christchurch’s CBD east of the Avon River and serve as a fantastic example of how Ōtākaro can meet its dual objectives of delivering both commercial and regenerative outcomes for the city.


The Influencers: John Bridgman

Not only is our Te Papa Ōtākaro Avon River Precinct project the largest urban transformation ever undertaken in New Zealand, but now it has also been deemed this year’s best, winning the prestigious George Malcolm Award for supreme excellence at the 2019 New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

The Avon River Precinct includes the City Promenade, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, The Terraces, the Victoria Square and Bridge of Remembrance restorations, all the artworks and plantings along the river and the Margaret Mahy Family Playground. We’ll have the remaining elements completed next year.

The judges noted, “Te Papa Ōtākaro has emerged as a significant and transformative urban landscape, maximising the opportunity provided by the earthquakes, to develop an exemplary interweaving of urban edge and river. Enhancing the cultural landscape of the city, as well as the ecological and social values, has provided Christchurch with a central core that holds the city together, and re-presents it with a new vision.”

The real beauty of the Avon River Precinct, which was also named as one of three finalists for Most Improved River at the 2019 New Zealand River Awards, is that it will only get better with time, as the plants and gardens mature, as more people take the time to walk and enjoy the City Promenade and as more private developments and public projects, like Te Pae, start opening out onto it.

Congratulations to our partners on this project: Christchurch City Council, Matapopore Charitable Trust, and the outstanding design teams at LandLAB, Boffa Miskell, WSP-Opus, and Rough & Milne.





John Bridgman

John Bridgman: The Influencers

Many of us have spent much of the past few weeks staring at rugby fields as the World Cup rolls on.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

Put two of these fields side by side and you’ve got an area similar to that covered by the Metro Sports Facility, which we currently have under construction.

We’re now into the thick of the foundation concrete pours on the site that will support the nine indoor courts and the competition, diving and leisure pools.

In total, the project will require around 16,000m3 of concrete and 3700 tonnes of structural steel to build. That’s only slightly less than our other major project, Te Pae, which everyone can clearly see is a substantial central city building.

Once all the foundations are poured for the Metro Sports Facility, people travelling along Moorhouse Avenue and St Asaph Street will start seeing the structural steel going up early next year.

We know that thousands of people will visit, and dozens of events will be held at the Metro Sports Facility each year once the doors are open, providing an economic boost for the city. But it’s worth remembering the build itself is also doing that, with over 300 people expected to be working on the site at the height of construction.

That’s a big team, doing an important job, but I appreciate it’s not the main sporting fixture we’re all focused on at the moment.






John Bridgman

John Bridgman: The Influencers

No sooner had we started construction on the Metro Sports Facility that the questions started coming in about car parking.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

It’s great that people are so excited about the facility, so let’s take this opportunity to look at what lies outside of the building.

A significant portion of the site is being made available for parking. There will be around 550 car parks for people visiting and working at the Metro Sports Facility. By comparison, the similarly large Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre has 459 spaces for visitor use.

Access to the Metro Sports Facility car park will be managed by the Christchurch City Council, as the owner of the facility.

The Metro Sports Facility’s location on Moorhouse Ave will also assist with parking as a lot of the businesses in the streets to the south operate during standard working hours. This means there will be additional on-street parking available in the area in the evenings and weekends; the facility’s busiest times.

Of course, a car won’t be your only option. The Metro Sports Facility sits on the major St Asaph Street and Antigua Street cycle routes.

It’s also about 900 metres away from the Bus Interchange and one block away from the Health Precinct bus stops. The Health Precinct stops are the busiest in the central city and we are currently giving them a major upgrade that includes large shelters.

We want this to be a facility for people of all abilities, ages and stages, and the accessibility of the location is integral to that.




John Bridgman: The Influencers

We’ve delivered roads, parks, laneways, a promenade and we have two of the largest buildings in the city under construction – Te Pae and the Metro Sports facility.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

But later this year Ōtākaro will take on a new type of project with the North Frame pedestrian bridge. The 32-metre-long, four-metre-wide bridge will connect Cambridge and Oxford Terraces between Colombo and Manchester Streets.

The bridge sits on what we call a ‘desire line’, the route people would take over the bend in the Avon River if it were possible. It will make the trip through the city along the Avon River Precinct quicker for cyclists and pedestrians.

With residential and other private developments planned for the North Frame, it makes sense for us to get in now to do the work, ahead of an influx of people living, working and visiting this area. Christchurch City Council expressed a desire for the bridge to be functional, simple and low maintenance, and this concept design reflects that.

The bridge will run perpendicular to the river, to encourage approaching cyclists and scooter riders to reduce their speed and will mean the main vertical elements of the Taurapa sculpture, which was commissioned by the Seattle Sister City Committee in 1997, will not need to be moved. Work is likely to get underway around November and take about six months to complete.

Out of our long list of construction projects, I’m confident this will be the only one with the added challenge of having to work around the trout spawning season.




John Bridgman: The Influencers

The construction of Te Pae, our new convention centre, is now 50 percent complete.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

It’s an exciting milestone that the sales team was recently able to share with event organisers from all around the globe at IMEX in Frankfurt, the world’s largest convention about where to hold a convention. Letting the world know Te Pae will be open for business late next year is key to the venue’s success.

More than half of the economic benefit Te Pae will bring to Christchurch will come from large international events, even though these events will not represent the majority of the bookings. There is intense global competition to attract these international events and the bigger they are, the further out they book – three to four years in advance in many cases.

The first international event to be held at Te Pae will be INTECOL’s 11th International Wetlands Conference in October 2020. With about 1000 attendees, this is the largest, most influential international conference in wetland ecology.

It demonstrates that we are not just promoting Te Pae to the world, but also Christchurch, Canterbury and our local expertise. New Zealand is internationally respected for its science and management of wetlands.

Other earth sciences, agriculture and wider food production, high-tech innovation, medical research, education and building technology are among the other sectors that are likely to bring big events to Te Pae. These local strengths, coupled with world-class service at a world class venue, and an attractive visitor destination will see Te Pae reach its full potential for Christchurch.








John Bridgman: The Influencers

‘Building places for people’ is Ōtākaro’s mantra and through this mild autumn it’s been satisfying seeing locals and visitors alike enjoying the public spaces we have created.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

We have been especially heartened by the public response to the new City Promenade, our conversion of two kilometres of Oxford Terrace from a conventional street into a shared space, primarily for pedestrians, cyclists and the ubiquitous scooters.

The Promenade really accentuates the river waterfront as a key feature of central Christchurch. A nurse at Christchurch Hospital at the western end of the Promenade told us how much she enjoys her stroll to and from work along the Promenade and the owner of a local backpackers says he gives his guests directions to many city attractions like the Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery or Antigua Boatsheds in relation to the Promenade.

It was great to see the Promenade used as an event space during ChristchurchNZ’s wonderful Lantern Festival. We now have a large events area that links Cashel Mall with the ever-popular Victoria Square, which we restored earlier last year.

In the East Frame, we are also seeing more people in Rauora Park, particularly cyclists and pedestrians using it as a thoroughfare, and new businesses and other amenities are helping to create activation around the lanes and gathering spaces in the South Frame.

There is still much work for us to do to complete the Crown-led anchor projects and we are very proud of our contribution to creating a vibrant CBD for the people of Christchurch.




John Bridgman: The Influencers

Construction of the Metro Sport Facility gets underway next month on the former Canterbury Brewery site. That’s good news regardless of whether you like to get active from the top of a 10-metre dive tower or the comfort of a spin bike.


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

We recently awarded a $221m contract for the construction of what will be the largest sports and recreation venue of its kind in New Zealand to CPB Contractors Limited and expect the build to be completed late in 2021.

In addition to the obvious wellbeing benefits, the economic impact of the Metro Sports Facility is worth considering. Christchurch City Council will operate the venue and expects it to host eight to twelve national and international events each year, which will bring coaches, family and supporters from all around the country, and they’ll be using our hotels and motels, eating out and going shopping.

Building the Metro Sports Facility will also be of great benefit to the local construction industry with at least 80 percent of the sub-trades to be sourced domestically. We expect more than $60 million in wages and salaries will be paid to the local workforce throughout construction, with more than 400 people employed on site at its peak.

It is tremendous to be able to take this step forward. As we’ve seen with Te Pae, getting a contractor on site and a building out of the ground does a lot for people’s confidence in Christchurch.







John Bridgman

John Bridgman: The Influencers

We already have 65 events on the books for the first two years at Te Pae, Christchurch’s new convention and exhibition centre, but you will see the marketing and promotion of this facility go up another gear with AEG Ogden now in town to provide day to day management of the centre.


John Bridgman
Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

AEG Ogden is a leading venue management company in the Asia Pacific region. It already manages convention and exhibition centres in Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Kuala Lumpur, Oman and Sydney, along with Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane and arenas in Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle and Perth.

This huge international reach and established reputation in the highly competitive conventions and exhibitions sector is why we selected AEG Ogden to run Te Pae.  Put simply, the more effective the operator – the more events Christchurch attracts – the greater the boost for the hotels, bars, shops, restaurants and tourism ventures around the region.

The events already booked come from the health, science, education and professional services sectors and will bring 54,000 delegates to Christchurch from around New Zealand and the world. We expect the economic benefit of these visitors to Christchurch and Canterbury to be around $60 million, much of it in the traditionally quieter ‘shoulder season’, either side of summer.

Te Pae will host its first event in the latter part of 2020, so the level of interest we’re already experiencing is not only encouraging but reminds us why a world-class convention centre was identified early on as an Anchor Project that could make a significant contribution to the regeneration of Christchurch.



John Bridgman

The Influencers: John Bridgman

I hope you’ve taken the opportunity over summer to walk along the City Promenade which we completed and opened in November.

John Bridgman
Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

The Promenade is a significant part of Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct but there are three outstanding pieces of work for us to carry out this year to complete this Anchor Project.

The first is the Avon Loop, a simple riverside pathway from Kilmore Street to Fitzgerald Avenue that will connect the City Promenade to the future developments in the Residential Red Zone and provide a link to the eastern cycleway.

We are currently finalising the proposed design for this pedestrian and cycle path, but it will be different to the Promenade and complement the greenery of the area rather than incorporating the paving that’s better suited to the CBD.
The second element is a pedestrian bridge in the North Frame connecting Cambridge and Oxford Terraces. This bridge will give the residents and businesses in the area seamless access to the City Promenade.

The final features to complete the Avon River Precinct are the relocation of the ‘Lift’ sculpture to the corner of Kilmore and Madras, and the installation of a new artwork called Mana Motuhake in Victoria Square, to acknowledge the shared history of the area.

These elements are not big projects but are important because they will make the Avon River Precinct user-friendly and ensure there is a strong connection between the central city and the future developments along the river to the east.