New name in wind for Carterton centre

By Alisa Yong alisa.yong@age.co.nz -
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A name change could be on the cards for the Carterton Events Centre. PHOTO/FILE
A name change could be on the cards for the Carterton Events Centre. PHOTO/FILE

The Carterton Events Centre could be renamed, as the council looks to make better use of the facility.

After a report was presented to the council on Wednesday on the existing use of the centre, showing it brought in revenue of about $65,000 per annum as opposed to the $90,000 initially estimated, councillors unanimously voted to adopt a more strategic approach to managing the centre, including reviewing the centre's name.

The report, which was compiled by Tracey O'Callaghan of Life Choices Limited, in tandem with chief executive Jane Davis, said running costs were "significantly higher" than was proposed in 2005, and revenue was lower than had been expected.

The original feasibility study for the centre, which assumed it would be staffed by existing library staff, estimated the running costs of the centre would be $461,782 per annum including depreciation, which equates to $68 per resident.

However, total costs are about $1.5 million per annum, or about $180 per resident, with salaries, depreciation and interest making up about $910,000 of the cost. The cost to build had been estimated at $1.9 million but the final figure was $6 million.

The report found that, while the events centre was living up to most of its original criteria, the auditorium and Plunket space was often under-utilised. It also said hireage rates for corporate groups were well below those of similar venues, which also charged extra for the use of equipment and after hours use.

It said there was "significant opportunity" to increase hireage of the events centre by giving priority to corporate hires, and marketing the centre would be easier if it was renamed the "Wairarapa Events Centre", or something similar.

Councillors voted to adopt the report's recommendations, which include actively promoting the events centre as a venue, working more closely with other venues to ensure effective use of space, charging more commercial rates for corporate hireage, reviewing existing agreements with tenants and reviewing the name of the centre.

Speaking to the report, Ms O'Callaghan said the council was "sitting on a fabulous asset that is being under-utilised".

Councillor Elaine Brazendale said she was happy for the name to be reviewed but was mindful it was a Carterton initiative.

Mayor John Booth said the benefit of the events centre could not be underestimated. "It's the best facility in the Wairarapa. The commercial side is certainly something we could develop more ... but the community side is really important. But I think it's time that the commercial potential is realised."

Councillor Mike Palmers said he agreed with trying to realise the centre's potential but did not see a need to change the name.

Community development manager Carolyn McKenzie said she had attended an expo for function, meeting and event facilities and many of the event planners had never heard of the Carterton Events Centre.

"If we want to get ourselves in to that space we need to market it more professionally. Our rooms should never be empty."

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