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Behind the Scenes - Number 7  May 2000

Seasonal newsletter from NCC (New Zealand) Ltd
Venue manager for the Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Town Hall, and Westpac Centre


1999 was a special year and theres a lot more happening in 2000. Sometimes its hard to remember just how young we are! For instance, we opened the Westpac Centre in September 1998. It has a capacity seating of 8888 and adds considerable value to our suite of public assembly facilities.

The Christchurch Town Hall provides two premier performing arts venues with 2600 and 1000 seats. The Christchurch Convention Centre opened in June 1997 and meets the highest international standards for such facilities. Our company has a compatible family of public assembly facilities.

A 1999 highlight was the industry recognition of the management and design excellence of the Christchurch Convention Centre with the CIM (Conventions Incentives Magazine) special recognition award, and other awards.

There was tremendous recognition for the Westpac Centre when out of thousands of venues, it was named one of the top ten international arenas in its seating capacity category by Amusement Business. The fabulous Neil Diamond concerts last June put the venue into the top 50 box offices for concerts in arenas and stadiums of any size by concerts in Pollstar Magazine. It takes some venues years to achieve this recognition, so we are justifiably proud of what has been achieved to date.

Mike Kelly CFE
Executive Director

Recent Highlights

  • Best Conference Venue New Zealand Award from Meeting NewZ
  • Amusement Business listed the Westpac Centre among the Top 10 indoor concert venues world wide (under 10,000 seats)
  • Large Philip Trusttum art works on display at Christchurch Convention Centre draw considerable interest
  • A memorable concert was given by country entertainer Daniel ODonnell on 3 February in the James Hay
  • Judith Durham and The Seekers gave their Christchurch audience a great night of their much-loved sound on their Millennium Tour on 25 February at the Westpac Centre
  • Live with Sugar Ray and Tadpole rocked with an enthusiastic audience of 5,500 on 29 February at the
    Westpac Centre
  • National Concerto Competition final presented by the Christchurch Civic Music Council in the Town Hall
    Auditorium, 4 March
  • Irish Festival presented by the Christchurch Irish National Society, 5 March
  • The last of the true legends, Mr Tony Bennett with the Ralph Sharon Quartet wooed his audience on 12 March in the Town Hall Auditorium
  • Little River Band visited Christchurch once again for a night of Ocker nostalgia on 17 March in the Town
    Hall Auditorium

New Zealand Record Tennis Crowd

The 5,334 people who sat enthralled at the Westpac Centre for Steffi Graf s farewell exhibition match on 3 February against World Junior Girls champion Jelena Dokic set a new record for attendance at a tennis match in New Zealand.

Christchurch was a last minute addition on Steffi Graf s Expo 2000 World Tour as the sporting legend said farewell to tennis fans around the globe. The Christchurch visit was made possible by the sponsorship provided by ASB Bank, the ability of the venue manager, NCC (New Zealand) Ltd, to accommodate the special event at short notice and the involvement of Canterbury Tennis Inc.

The celebrity doubles saw Steffi team with Canterbury Crusader, All Black and Canterbury hero Andrew Mehrtens to defeat Jelena Dokic and Matthew Ridge. Both rugby players proved they had fierce serves, and some fancy footwork on court as well as on the field.

Mike Kelly, Executive Director of NCC (New Zealand) Ltd said last years Davis Cup tie experience stood them in good stead to made a speedy decision about the farewell exhibition match.

The Westpac Centre is a great venue for exhibition tennis, and with the opportunity to host the World Tennis Queen on her farewell world tour, we knew it was going to be a great nights entertainment - and it was, Mr Kelly said.

Plaudits for tennis court at Westpac Centre
An Acclaim Courts of Australia Nu Hide tennis surface carpet recently approved for Federation Cup play with a dark blue/light blue painted surface was used during the ASB Bank Tribute to Steffi Graf exhibition match - and won plaudits from seven times Wimbeldon winner, Steffi Graf. The same floor had drawn strong compliments from visiting international players last year when it was used as a warm-up court for the Vodafone World Netball Championships 99, involving 27 countries.

Its something well tell our grand-kids about
Rugby stars Matthew Ridge and Andrew Merhtens at the press conference after their celebrity doubles set with Steffi Graf and Jelena Dokic. Both admitted to pre-match fear and terror of the professional serves! However, both proved their junior tennis champion days had left them with court skills even Steffi complimented them on.

Hefty Dividend after 3 years of Private Management
City benefits from venue arrangement

A joint venture enterprise formed by Addington Raceway Ltd and a Bangkok-based venue management company has resulted in winning dividends for several parties, including city ratepayers.

NCC (New Zealand) Ltd is contracted to run the Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch Convention Centre and the Westpac Centre for the Christchurch City Council.

The Board is satisfied that its management of three key city-owned venues has proved a windfall for ratepayers. Board chairman Robin Corcoran, MNZM, said that based on present performances private management will have saved the city more than $6 million in the five years ending 2002.

Mr Corcoran said a Board review of the first three years of its management shows an 83% improvement on feasibility studies commissioned by the Council pre-1995 when the original contract was confirmed.

The studies done estimated an annual cost to the council for the three venues would be about $2.75 million a year -and that was unacceptable. Part of our challenge as the management company
was to progressively reduce the annual operating costs of these venues. I am proud to say that we have done that,
Mr Corcoran said.

Part of that is because we have been able to draw on extensive international experience in venue management and to benefit from that.

Mr Corcoran said the current operating deficit for 1999/2000 for the 3 venue complex during the first full year of the Westpac Centre, is projected to be less than $1.4 million - $100,000 less than the operating cost of the Town Hall alone pre-1996.

During the five year period contemplated, this performance, if continued, represents a substantial saving of $6.25 million.

After investing capital into the three venues, the Council wanted to ensure they produced an expected and promised economic effect for the city. Part of that strategy was to combine the management of the three public assembly facilities in order to benefit from the economies of scale.

Massive Art Work reflecting the Millennium bridges the millennia at the Christchurch Convention Centre

The largest known art work in New Zealand is being celebrated for a year at the Christchurch Convention Centre in Kilmore Street.

The 84 metre long mural, titled Passport to the New Millennium was painted by Waimate-based artist Philip Trusttum. He used more than 120 litres of acrylic paint on the 140 panels, based on the dictionary definition of the word millennium.

Symbols and some inventions of my own changed the words and enabled me to play around within these words. So eventually the words all but disappeared, said Philip Trusttum. The painting means underlying things for me, but other people can take their own feelings and meanings from the shapes, symbols and colours and really complete the painting cycle.

International venue manager NCC (New Zealand) Ltd wanted to celebrate the new millennium with a visual arts project worthy of its significance. Rather than focusing on the fears of the unknown that a new millennium can evoke, this ambitious project will span time backward and forward, seizing upon biblical references of the past, binding them inextricably with an unknown future and projecting hope, said Executive Director, Mike Kelly.

Cr Anna Crighton, Honorary Curator of Art for NCC (New Zealand) Ltd, describes Philip Trusttum as a true boundary-rider, with the rare ability to develop an idea that consumes him until the painting is finished. The start of this journey is slow and measured: speed is at times wildly picked up and then abruptly slowed, through the use of sparkling visuals contrasted by panels of reflective calm, Anna Crighton said.

The artwork will be on display until January 2001.

Large Herds
The New Zealand Large Herds Association is holding its conference in Christchurch this year, at a time when
the large scale conversion of arable and pastoral land on the Canterbury Plains to dairying is easy to see.

A large herd is one of 500 cows or more. There are more than 650 such herds and that number is increasing as the trend towards larger herds develops. NZ has 14,350 dairy farmers, with an average herd size of 229 cows.

Last year the NZ Dairy Board won the supreme aware of NZ Exporter of the Year at the 1999 Trade NZ Export Awards. Its products accounted for nearly 25% of the countrys total exports, with a 32% share of the world diary traded products market.

NCC (New Zealand) Ltd extends a very warm welcome to these rural achievers.

Canterbury opera Recent Survey
We appreciate the feedback and comments from the 500 supporters who replied to our survey held late last year, said Elizabeth Owens, Executive Director or Canterbury opera.

We will be taking note of these results when working on our five year plan. The ten most requested operas were: Aida, Turandot, The Tales of Hoffman, Cav and Pag, Tosca, Cosi fan tutte, Manon Lescaut, Norma, Lohengrin, and Die Fledermaus.

The preferred venue is still the James Hay Theatre, with 46% of respondents in favour, while 30% had no strong preference, and 24% preferred the Theatre Royal.

Two international publications which are the acknowledged authorities on the concert venue industry have highlighted the Westpac Centre for achievements in 1999.

Amusement Business listed the venue as one of the top 10 most successful arena concert venues under 10,000 seats.

Pollstar - the concert hotwire is distributed to the global concert trade tour. In its first 2000 issue it listed the 1999 Top 50 International Box Office events. There was only one New Zealand entry - the Westpac Centre at Number 30 with the four sell-out Neil Diamond concerts. There were 35,177 tickets sold with gross takings of $NZ3,069,183.

New Appointment
Brent Ford

The newly appointed Director, Finance and Administration, is enthusiastic about the boundless opportunities the
three venues offer, and is equally surprised at the amount of business already generated by the Christchurch Convention Centre.

I wasnt aware of how much is happening there, and how much economic activity it is spearheading, Brent, a chartered accountant and Canterbury University graduate, said.

Brent previously worked for Eurest NZ Ltd after seven years with Meadowfresh Foods Ltd, where he was group financial accountant, dealing largely with the export trade.

Theres a lot more volatility and unpredictability in this industry compared with the predictable supply of milk from farms and consistent sales.

Brent is married to Phillipa and they have two children, Kate (3) and Tom (1). Kates perspective of Brents career is that her daddy used to count milk bottles, then sausage rolls - and now tickets!

Brents interests include family, squash, touch rugby and running, gardening and home DIY.

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