Wellington's new convention and exhibition centre, Tākina, has secured its first major event.
The build is one of the only Wellington City Council construction projects that's currently actually on budget and on time.
An announcement today confirmed Festival for the Future has booked the site, which is a multi-day conference with more than 1200 delegates.
Festival for the Future founder Guy Ryan said it was an exciting opportunity to build the event into a world-class one as it scales up in 2023.
"The Festival is a showcase of what's possible – of leadership and innovation for the big issues of our time. The opening of Tākina is a really exciting opportunity to attract global talent, host powerful in-person experiences and showcase the best that Wellington has to offer.
The venue will have 10,000sq m of conference space for up to 1600 people, as well as a 2500sq m exhibition floor, two large, flexible plenary halls and meeting rooms, and a gala dinner capacity of 1400 people.
WellingtonNZ, the region's economic development agency, has reported that despite organisations being nervous about Covid-19, they have received a steady stream of booking enquiries.
The festival is the first confirmed booking, but others are pencilled in.
WellingtonNZ General Manager David Perks said Tākina would be a major asset for the city as New Zealand's arts and creative capital.
"Wellington is expecting a very good 2021 in terms of hosting business events. The latest Tourism NZ industry research reveals 55 per cent of associations planning a conference next year plan to host it in Wellington.
"A number of clients who originally planned conferences in other destination for 2021 have stated access to government officials and Wellington's central location as key reasons to move their conference to the Capital. We expect that interest to intensify as the opening of Tākina nears."
Perks said Festival for the Future was the kind of event that would test out the centre and presented the opportunity to work with someone familiar as the site found its feet.
After work started on Tākina in 2019, the CBD harbourside location has quickly taken shape.
The ground floor includes a public gallery and café space with two main entrances on Cable and Wakefield Sts.
Construction of the convention centre is currently on time and set to open in mid-2023.
Apart from Covid-19, the only real hiccup has been over the building's name.
Wellington City Council had to backtrack on a name originally proposed after an awkward double-up was discovered with a Lower Hutt café.
A shortlist of names was developed by a working group and all parties unanimously agreed that Tūtaki, literally translated as "to encounter", was the preferred name.
Wellington City Council paid more than $8,000 for Cato Brand Partners to get to that point, a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act revealed.
Except it turned out a café attached to Lower Hutt's event centre was also called Tūtaki.
A council paper recommending the name Tūtaki was abruptly pulled from a meeting agenda.
The council instead settled on the name Tākina.