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Behind the Scenes - Number 9  October 2000

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

We have just celebrated the second anniversary of the opening of the Westpac Centre, and you’ll read more about that inside. From our management perspective, we’re very pleased with its financial performance. However, we are even more satisfied with its adaptability for sporting, entertainment and trade events, and the atmosphere it is able to generate for all those different uses. Now we are looking forward to the revival of the touring concert market, and new promotions post-Sydney 2000 Olympics. Christchurch can also take pride in having a successful indoor arena. Auckland plans for a larger arena have been shelved. Wellington’s Westpac Stadium hasn’t yet staged one major concert, and there are doubts about a Sydney proposal for another arena when existing sport and entertainment venues are struggling.

Mike Kelly CFE
Executive Director Executive


The premier boat show in the South Island
Boatex 2000, the Canterbury Boat and Outdoor Show held at the Westpac Centre, has established itself as the annual must-see-what’s-there even for serious boaties, adventurers, holidaymakers – anyone who loves the craft of the sea and inland waters. The colourful and interactive show is endorsed by the Boating Industries Association of New Zealand, endorsing its high standards. Year-round recreational boating is on the increase, boat numbers are growing and the range of boating-related activities just keeps on developing too. This year there was a special emphasis on water safety.

Bach came back
Friday 28 July marked the 250th anniversary of Johan Sebastian Bach’s death. At the Christchurch Town Hall, Bach came back! Pipe Organ curator Martin Setchell put on the Bach persona and a greatly appreciative audience was taken back in time, and into another life. The Press critic David Sell called it a triumph. The audience called it brilliant, exciting and wonderful. Between the Trio Sonatas, choral preludes, and playing some Vivaldi, the Bach/Setchell character talked about his life – his work, two marriages, 20 children, and his often stormy relationships with church authorities.

Pipe Organ CD
Martin Setchell produces a glorious sound from the Christchurch Town Hall’s pipe organ on the CD, Let the Pealing Organ Blow!

(available from the Christchurch Town Hall, P O Box 13-144 Christchurch or telephone 366 8899 to order).


Westpac Centre Celebrates Second Anniversary
The Westpac Centre has proved to be a drawcard for major events which could not be staged in Christchurch without it. Mike Kelly, Executive Director, lists five highlights to prove the point:

  • World Netball Championships, September/October 1999
  • Neil Diamond sell-out concerts, June 1999
  • TRENZ (Tourism Rendezvous) Trade Show, June 2000
  • Gala Dinner for 1350, Elementary School Principals conference, July 2000
  • Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade religious assembly, January 1999

Christchurch’s $34 million stadium was not built without controversy. operating projections suggested then that the facility would require subsidies of up to $650,000 in some years. The venue is in fact more than paying its way with no subsidy required. In this past year the gross revenue was almost $1 million – 86% higher than early studies forecast. NCC (New Zealand) Ltd was contracted to manage the venue, as well as the Christchurch Convention Centre and Christchurch Town Hall.

NCC has developed a number of “flat floor” exhibitions at the Westpac Centre, some of which have done exceedingly well. Trade and consumer shows and exhibitions, Home Shows, Boat Shows, Engineering and Career Expos and a wide range of commercial activities have all successfully used the venue.

There has been world class entertainment with great audiences for entertainers like Bob Dylan, Michael Crawford, Janet Jackson, The Feelers, Billy Connolly, Neil Diamond, Creed, The Seekers, Live, ZZ Top and recently Tom Jones. There has also been success with religious assemblies such as the Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade, two Watchtower Conventions and some family entertainment with the Harlem Globetrotters and Cinderella on Ice.

Local audiences have seen top international sport. The World Netball Championships set attendance records for the sport and have been complemented by the Pacific Alliance Gymnastics Championships, Davis Cup Tennis and the entertaining visit by Steffi Graf and Jalena Dokic which set a new indoor attendance record for tennis in New Zealand.

International netball tests are held at the Westpac Centre. Basketball is playing a bigger role with the Tall Ferns playing China and Canterbury Rams National Basketball League fixtures and championships, which also set new play-off attendance records.

Internationally the new venue has attracted international rankings. The Neil Diamond season was the 30th largest grossing concert in the world last year, according to industry measures (Pollstar) and Amusement Business ranked the Westpac Centre as one of the top ten busiest concert arenas in the world last year.


Tim Finn,Dave Dobbyn & Bic Runga concert

Photographs Courtesy Tony Stewart

In exuberant form, Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn and Bic Runga treated enthusiastic capacity crowds to nights they won’t forget with hit songs and a carefree sing-a-long feel, September 9 and 10 at the Christchurch Town Hall. The acclaimed New Zealand singers and many fine musicians showcased and celebrated their marvellous talents. Critic Chris Mooar wrote: “Two hours did not seem nearly enough. A perfect night.”


Recent Highlights

  • The New Zealand Tall Blacks completed their preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympics at the Westpac Centre in early September, where they had public practices on a floor and with backboards almost identical to those in Sydney.
  • Children, parents and grandparents wiggled to their hearts’ content at three performances by The Wiggles on 7 July. The shows were so successful that three more took place on 21 September in the Town Hall Auditorium.
  • The wide appeal of the music ensured a near capacity crowd at the Midwinter Proms performed by the Christchurch Symphony on 15 July.
  • Tying in with the highly successful Jazz Festival, the Christchurch Symphony got Recent Highlights into the swing of things with a relaxed evening’s entertainment of Jazz Standards at the Town Hall on 12 August. Students and tutors joined vocalists, saxophonists and a guitarist to entertain jazz enthusiasts in style.
  • The well attended NCC (NZ) Art Awards Exhibition kicked off at the Christchurch Convention Centre with a gala dinner and prize presentation on 26 June with some outstanding talent demonstrated in the use of secondary materials.
  • Air Supply’s original partnership of Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell proved it was still going strong and still playing to their consistently high standard when they performed at the Christchurch Town Hall on 3 August.


Boaters –a brilliant place to train,and dine

Boaters Restaurant at the Christchurch Town Hall is now a commercial environment for students at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology’s School of food and Hospitality. Diners get a great meal and enjoy entertainment from Christchurch Jazz School musicians – and make their own contribution to student training.

Students are supervised and assessed by tutorial staff … and they share the goal of making Boaters the best training restaurant in New Zealand. It certainly has one of the most memorable outlooks, over the Ferrier Fountain, Avon River and Victoria Square.

The training restaurant is a joint venture between the Polytechnic, NCC (New Zealand) Ltd and SSL Leisure Services.

Boaters won’t be open every day. Bookings can be made by phoning Rose Young on extension 8664.


Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate Live – pure funky 70’s and proud of it! Great audience interaction, dancing in the aisles, nostalgia retro music and sexy songs – “You Sexy Thing”, “It started with a Kiss”, “Everyone’s a Winner” and “So You Win Again”. The band claims a lot of babies have been conceived to Hot Chocolate songs! Their New Zealand tour commenced at the Christchurch Town Hall on 1 September.


Gala Dinner for Principals a first for Westpac Centre

Even Executive Chef Lakshman Jayawardena stood back and was thrilled by the spectacular gala buffet setting for 1700 people at the Elementary Principals Conference on 1 July. “The guests were amazed at the creativity of the food designs such as the prawn and seafood towers, and the range and colours we had on the 13 buffet tables,” Lakshman said. He was very proud of their first gala in the venue, which provided plenty of scope for design and drama with its imposing size and height. The sparkling centrepiece was a pond, complete with a fountain and live fish and each table had its own special creation. Lashman also re-designed the kitchen to cater for the event, to allow for the finishing-off of the food and service. He’s now very keen to design and cater for more special dining events at the Westpac Centre.


Entertainment Highlights
Remembering the Entertainment Highlights from the first two years at WespacTrust Centre

  • Bob Dylan
  • Michael Crawford
  • Janet Jackson
  • The Feelers
  • Billy Connolly
  • Neil Diamond
  • The Seekers
  • Tom Jones
  • The Seekers
  • Live
  • ZZ Topp
  • Cinderella on Ice

    Billy Connolly   ZZ Topp   Janet Jackson

“I’m confident we’ll see significant growth in the concert market after the Sydney Olympics,” said Executive Director, Mike Kelly. “Provided people here continue to buy enough tickets, we’ll see local and international promoters take investment risks and book acts for Christchurch.”


Calendar Highlights

Christchurch Town Hall

Hi-5 Live In Concert
3 October

Christchurch Schools Music Festival
9, 16 October

Gene Pitney
13 October

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
14 October

Vision Quest International
16 October

The Ulster Cup
22 October

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
21, 28 October

PAL International
23 October

BP Technology Challenge
24 October

Christchurch City Choir
31 October

New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
3 November

Christchurch City Choir
4 November

New Zealand String Quartet
6 November

New Zealand Army Band
8 November

Floral Theatre
9 November

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
17, 25 November

Christchurch City Choir
9 December

Christchurch Symphony
20 December

Christchurch Convention Centre

Forklift Competition
5 October

Snow Sports Trade Fair
8 October

Avonside Girls High School Leaving Ball
14 October

Librarians Conference
18 October

St Bedes College Leaving Ball
20 October

Irish National Feis 50th Anniversary
21 October

Phantom Gala Dinner
25 October

AMP Charity City of Christchurch Race Prizegiving
28 October

Floral Art Society of New Zealand
6 November

GlobalNet 2000
19 November

Villa Maria Graduation
7 December

Rangi Ruru Girls School Leavers Ball
8 December

Westpac Centre

Homes & Interiors Expo
14,15 October

No Doubt in concert
25 October

Jo ’s putting a face into the New Zealand market

Jo Robinson, New Zealand sales execu-tive, is responsible for all domestic sales for the NCC (New Zealand) Ltd man-aged convention venues in Christ-church. Over the past 14 months she’s been making regular trips to other centres, meeting industry professionals, getting to know associations, and raising awareness of the Christchurch Convention Centre as a superb facility with international standards and services.

“The conference professionals who’ve used the venue are enthusiastic about it, really appreciating its versatility, and the fact that they can put any colour or configuration into it,” Jo said.

“They know from experience that the facilities are wonderful so all I have to do is to make sure everyone else in the industry knows that too!”

Jo came to her new position after a successful career in banking. She had 14 years with Trust Bank in Southland, and her high standing was recognised when Jo was selected to be on the implementation team overseeing the merger of Trust Bank and Westpac. That, coupled with wide travel and invaluable business knowledge, has given her a springboard into the new challenges of venue marketing.

“I know how important it is for professional, industry, sporting, recreation and religious organisations to have well managed meetings, and I am thrilled to be promoting the country’s first major purpose built venue. With first class in house services including a technical and theatre team, we can provide the industry and meeting planners with a one stop shop.

” Jo wants to see more association meetings and conferences using the purpose-built venue. She said Christchurch has considerable appeal as a venue for association meetings and conferences. It is an attractive and cultural destination in itself, and the surrounding areas offer many options for partners’ programmes and additional travel.

Next year a number of large back to back international conferences are booked into the Convention Centre.

“We will really lift our profile in 2001 as we have some prestigious international Association conferences coming to Christchurch, one after another,” “The Christchurch Convention Centre’s design, easily caters for the not so large event.” Jo said.

Jo ’s End of Year Special!

Jo’s pleased to announce to all her clients, a special 10% discount on venue rental if a booking is received by 22 December 2000, with the event taking place before 30 June 2001.

To contact Jo call , or Email

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