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Covid-19 threat pushes back Christchurch's $475m convention centre opening

Christchurch's new NZ$465m (US$284.8m) Te Pae Convention Centre is now unlikely to open before 2021. The most recent projection for the long-awaited centre was for it to be completed by October 2020, when the first conference was booked in.

However, the New Zealand government's coronavirus lockdown rules, which allow only essential construction, have affected the centre project as well as the nearby stadium and metro facility projects. Four hundred workers at the convention centre site have been laid off.

Te Pae General Manager Ross Steele reports a list of 50 events worth millions of dollars to the economy have been booked in, domestic and international. Some have opted to delay, and some have cancelled due to Covid-19.

“There has been widespread understanding but real disappointment around what Covid-19 is doing to the industry in general,” said Steele.

“With the uncertainty around the virus and travel restrictions in the future it is understandable that some clients are not prepared to risk continuing to hold their event and we are understanding of that, but the vast majority of events have rescheduled,” Steele added.

The convention centre and metro projects are both being built by Sydney-based construction company CPB for the Crown’s rebuild company Ōtākaro.

The Crown (executive authority) is funding Te Pae's development and is sharing the metro sports facility cost with Christchurch City Council. 

Both projects have already been delayed by several years. “Everything has to come to a halt, but there will be security cameras and maybe security personnel on the site - we're still working through this,” a spokesman for Ōtākaro said, adding that, like everyone else, it was a case of ‘wait and see’ whether things could resume after the four-week Covid-19 lockdown.