NCC (NZ) Ltd is the venue manager for the Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch Convention Centre and Westpac centre for Sport and Entertainment. The venues are owned by Christchurch City Council.


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Andy Gibb, the new Executive Chef at Christchurch’s premier convention venue, brings a blast of freshness and enthusiasm as well as a sound background in catering for large numbers to the role. Trained in New Zealand by German and French chefs, he has had many years experience in New Zealand’s leading tourist hotel chains, complemented by time in London, California and Melbourne, which he considers the birthplace of Asia-Pacific food trends.


Andy comes to his new position directly from Jade Stadium where, at big match time, he was responsible for serving up to 2,000 meals to 64 corporate boxes to incredibly demanding time schedules.  With a team of 25 to 30 chefs and as many kitchen hands and runners, it was a case of moving meals from the main kitchen to the servery kitchens, upstairs and along passageways that were also used by crowds of fans attending the games.


“I see myself as a conductor. At Jade Stadium I learned about coordination and organisation, as well as refining my wages and food cost budgeting skills.”  In his new role Andy is looking forward to preparing banquets and cocktail parties. “It’s a licence to be more adventurous.”  


He will be catering for up to 1,000 people sometimes twice a week. Metre-wise, the kitchen is smaller than at Jade, but there is much more equipment and it is much easier to oversee and control the quality, he says.  Andy is passionate about New Zealand’s fresh seasonal produce and plans to make the most of that, as well as gradually adding his influence into the menus at the Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Town Hall and Westpac Centre.




NCC (NZ) Ltd has appointed Nikki Goodwin to the position of NZ Sales Executive, a position she will take up 1 June when she returns from two years working in London. Before that Nikki was Marketing Assistant to Sales & Marketing Director, Cathy Hemsworth. In London, Nikki worked in the sales division of MCI Enterprise Hosting (managed web hosting), supporting the Regional Vice President Sales EMEA, while studying part-time  for a Diploma in Public relations at the London School of Public Relations and Branding. During that time she has also visited Egypt, New York, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, and travelled through Asia.


"But I confess I did miss the Christchurch Convention centre and I was always checking up on the website to keep in touch with what was going on so I'm thrilled to be returning to NCC (NZ) Ltd.  This is a very exciting opportunity and having enjoyed my extensive experience in the MICE industry, I'm looking forward to both enhancing existing relationships and creating and broadening new ones. My experience in London has deepened my commitment to building strong and reliable business relationships," Nikki said.


Cathy Hemsworth said it was great to be welcoming Nikki back into the organisation. "Her intimate knowledge of the venues and the added value of her study in the past two years will ensure she hits the ground running! Nikki acted as Secretary to the Venue Management Association conference held in the Christchurch Convention Centre in May 2002 and has a broad base of contacts and industry knowledge that will bring immediate benefits to NCC and the venue."


3.  CHRISTCHURCH: Gail Rees takes over hot seat as Mike Kelly's PA


Gail Rees has been selected and has just started as PA to the executive office and to NCC (NZ) Ltd's Executive Director, Mike Kelly, replacing Emma Crew (Milne) who, after 3 years in the position, has shifted to Brisbane with her husband Jayson.


Gail was previously Administration/Office Manager at Filta Vacuum Products in Auckland since 1998.   She does have specific experience in the entertainment and corporate events industry, with a wealth of experience from serving as touring road manager for local bands –  "When the Cats Away "  - to wardrobe mistress for theatre shows – Bananas in Pyjamas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


"It's great to be back in my home town and working in the wonderfully exciting and varied entertainment and corporate world.  I've been in Auckland for 20 years, after eight years in Australia, so to return to the South Island with a fantastic new position and be with family is a treat."


Gail has travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and the Cook Islands. Her outside interests revolve around two pet chihuahuas, reading and gardening.


To contact Gail email or phone (+64 3) 366 8899  



4.  CHRISTCHURCH TOWN HALL: Sexy story makes dream come true


Christchurch Town Hall receptionist Jan Colley is having a dream come true.   Her first novel is being published this December by New York’s Silhouette Desire, part of the Harlequin Mills & Boon publishing group. “Isn’t publishing a novel everyone’s dream?” she asks. Trophy Wives is a romance set on a high country station near Methven, but this is no prim Mills & Boon.  It’s definitely “raunchy” and a bit “saucy”, Jan admits rather reluctantly. Silhouette Desire books are promoted as passionate, sensual and provocative.  “They can cover social issues such a date rape, sexual abuse and alcoholism,” says Jan.  However, in Trophy Wives characters have somewhat gentler problems - the heroine is dyslexic and her brother has a gambling addiction that is threatening the family inheritance. Jan’s literary success has come rapidly.  She began writing in 2002 after she and her partner sold their business and she had time on her hands. Her first novel was second in the prestigious Clendon Award for Romantic Fiction and also won Readers Choice, while her second novel was highly commended for the Clendon Award the following year.  While Trophy Wives is her third novel it is the first to be accepted for publication. She is one of four Australasians (including two other Kiwis) to write for Desire, which has a stable of about 40 writers.  The rest are all Americans.  “It’s a lot of hard work and you’re always on a roller coaster,” Jan say.  She works at the Town Hall from 1pm to 5pm then writes at night, often till 3.00 am.  It seems dreams do come true, but you have to work at it!


5.  CHRISTCHURCH CONVENTION CENTRE: Three halls full is a highlight for Jo Robinson


Three major companies held three separate product launch in the three main adjoining halls at the Christchurch Convention Centre on 27 May – and no-one was more pleased about that than Jo Robinson, previously NZ Sales Executive and now managing Australia Sales. “It was a real highlight to have all three halls being used for such a prestigious group of companies - it’s the sort of thing sales people dream about!”  Jo said the huge flat direct access at street level was a significant benefit for users of the purpose-built facilities. “I know it sounds like jargon but over and over again it proves the benefits of having such a versatile purpose-built venue. Each hall was themed so they all looked completely different. I was on a high all day just seeing how they packed in and then had wonderful events. “


6.  CHRISTCHURCH TOWN HALL: Banners brighten big beams

A banner display celebrating the resident performing arts is adding colour and an arty edge to the usually passive areas in the foyer – concrete beams, stairwell pillars, and concourse interior walls. The resident companies are Canterbury Opera, Christchurch Symphony, Christchurch City Choir, Showbiz Christchurch and the Rieger Pipe Organ, with the regular visiting New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO, Chamber Music New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The banners also feature recent stage show spectaculars – Saturday Night Fever and Sleeping Beauty on Ice.

The concrete beams are of architectural interest themselves. They are in the  fair-faced style, so all the holes and markings made during the pouring and manufacture process are left intact and visible – the crinkles and wrinkles of construction. The double column feature occurs throughout the complex and has been used successfully for banner placement since it was opened in 1972.

7.  WESTPAC CENTRE: First quarter gives Christchurch world ranking in entertainment - international entertainment media all make mention of Christchurch’s achievements

POLLSTAR ranked the Westpac Centre for Sport & Entertainment number 15 in the world for arena venue concert ticket sales an outstanding total of 69,838 tickets sold during the first quarter of 2005. Entertainers such as Rod Stewart, Cher, Neil Diamond, Mark Knopfler, R.E.M and Norah Jones pushed ticket sales into the stratosphere. With maximum capacity of 8888 seats it’s the smallest venue of the top 15 and outperformed such stellar venues as Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena (12,500), Brisbane Entertainment Centre (12,000) and the Exhibition Centres in Birmingham (10,000) and Glasgow (10,000). The Sydney Superdrome (18,000) was the only Australasian venue to rank higher than the Westpac Centre. All in all, being the smallest venue in the smallest metropolitan area just adds to the achievement says Executive Director Mike Kelly.

VENUES TODAY (April)  ranked  the Cher concert on 22 February at the Westpac Centre in 16th place overall for gross ticket sales with gross sales of $US824,854 and total ticket sales of 6,895 for the month ending 16 March. Artists ranking higher in that period were Elton John (1st) and The Eagles (7th). In the same month the Westpac Centre was ranked second overall for gross ticket sales on the 5001 - 10,000 seating category.

Mike Kelly: It would be fair to say that Christchurch owes a debt of gratitude to the concert promoters who have invested in the concert product but we must recognise the exceptional support lent to the touring concert market by a willing and supportive Christchurch public. The strong New Zealand dollar has made all of this possible and we look forward to a successful, albeit quieter, future for touring major concerts. 

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE ranked the Westpac Centre's Neil Diamond concert 11th over all in its April Boxscore. The Neil Diamond concerts, presented by Dainty Consolidated Entertainment, sold 17,014 tickets and grossed $NZ1, 493,635 in 2 sell-out shows. 

Westpac Centre in top 10 again! Venues Today again ranked the Christchurch Westpac Centre in its Top Stops.  In April the venue came in at number 7 in the 5,001 - 10,000 seating category, having sold 8,911 tickets and grossing $US 561,475. This makes it 3 months in a row that the Westpac Centre has made the Top 10 in Venues Today.


8.  Feature story about Andy Gibb, Executive Chef (written by Cynthia Kepple)




When 17 year-old Andy Gibb started his career in the hospitality as kitchen hand, little did he know he that 26 years later he would be catering for crowds in the thousands. Andy is an executive chef, recently appointed Executive Chef at the Christchurch Convention Centre, responsible for catering for thousands at the Convention Centre and Westpac Centre for Sport and Entertainment.


Andy began his apprenticeship in the spectacular but isolated tourist resort of Te Anau and trained at Otago Polytechnic. From the deep south he moved to the steamy tourist capital of New Zealand, Rotorua, where he stayed four years. In 1986, like most young Kiwis, he succumbed to the call of the Big OE (Overseas Experience), an excellent career move for an ambitious and gifted young Kiwi chef.  In London, he worked in a five star hotel in Marylebone then did the traditional Kombi van European tour. 


“While the others took photos on all the usual sightseeing things, I took notes and photos of food and wine, “he recalls. 


Back in London he was employed at an Italian Restaurant in Covent Garden. “That was my opening to Italian food and I got to cook for lots of celebs,” he chuckles.  When his two years was up he travelled to California where he soaked up the at-the-time leading edge Californian cuisine with its Mexican influences.   “I learned about food and vegetables I had never seen before - melons and the varieties of chillies.”


Then it was back to New Zealand as chef de partis at the Queenstown Park Royal, where he stayed for the busy winter season before being offered a sous chef position the Auckland Park Royal, in charge of the Queen Street Bistro, which in the heady early 90s was incredibly chic. “We did 400 covers for lunch and the same for dinner.  It was my first real push into decent numbers.”  


Andy’s next move was back to Southland, as executive chef at the Milford Sound Resort. He was responsible for the catering at the hotel, the Red Boats and for tourist trekkers as well as the 100 staff who ran the track and accommodation.  It was large scale catering with lots of variety.


“It was here I learnt how important staff members are. If someone got sick we had no workers and so I made sure that had excellent, healthy food for breakfast lunch and dinner,” says Andy.  “Now staff wellbeing is my number one priority- if you look after them they’ll do a bloody good job for you.”  A lesson well learned, for when you’re catering for thousands as Andy does now, they are the essential ingredient!


After years Andy came to Christchurch as executive chef of the Centra Hotel, one of three new hotels in the city.  “Being part of the opening was massive learning curve,” he recalls.” I had to manage the budgets, build a team, design menus from scratch and try to attract business through the catering.” To raise the Centra’s public profile, he and his team entered every competition around, from Blues Brews and Barbecues to the Corbans Wine and Food Challenge.


Still with the Centra chain, Andy moved to Melbourne, where again he revelled in learning new styles, tastes and products.   “Melbourne is the birthplace of food trends in Australasia. There is an immense interest in food there. People from all sorts of ethnicity have learned to cook at home and when they become chefs they bring out the old family recipes.”


But Andy was missing home. “I wanted to get back to heartland New Zealand and the bush so I went to Franz Joseph for a season and thoroughly enjoyed it.” Needing a break from cooking, he set up a business selling fresh vegetables in Queenstown.  “I had the other side of it,” he laughs, “with chefs yelling at me when I couldn't get what they wanted.  Now I understand more about the life of vegetables and how to treat them - no more flinging the carrots around.”


However, you can’t keep a good chef away from the kitchen and Andy was soon lured back to wearing his chef’s toque, this time as executive chef at Christchurch’s Jade Stadium where he was serving up to 5000 meals to 64 corporate boxes and corporate lounges, with meals ranging from buffets to hot dogs– all served to tight time frames.  “The demands on my organisational skill were huge. For a big game I needed 25 to 30 chefs, and the same number of kitchen hands and runners.” It was a matter of co-ordination, with food being transported from the kitchens to the serveries and to the boxes, using the same passageways as the fans.


“I see myself as a conductor,” he says. “At Jade I learned about coordination and organisation, as well as refining my wages and food cost budgeting skills.”  In his new role he is looking forward to preparing for banquets and cocktails parties. “It’s a licence to be more adventurous.” 


 He will be catering for up to 1,000 people sometimes twice a week. Metre wise, the kitchen is smaller than at Jade, but there is much more equipment and it is much easier to oversee and control the quality, he says.  Andy is passionate about New Zealand’s fresh seasonal produce and plans to make the most of that, as well as gradually adding his influence into the menus.




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