Making the Wellington region wildly famous

The past 12 months have been unlike any other in living memory as the Covid-19 pandemic raced around the world. Despite this, and with many twists and turns along the way, WellingtonNZ continued to collaborate with organisations throughout the region to make Wellington wildly famous.

Much of the year saw us work across global storytelling, tourism, venue management, supporting and attracting events, facilitating business growth, attracting international students, workforce development, supporting major infrastructure projects and film permitting. But we were forced to refocus in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

Message from WellingtonNZ Chair and Chief Executive

Wild about Wellington

WellingtonNZ responded to Covid-19

Covid-19 had a significant impact on the Wellington economy and as a consequence on every area of work undertaken by WellingtonNZ. Events were cancelled, venues were closed, international students and visitors left, and visits and campaigns were cancelled. However, our business also responded swiftly to concentrate on business support and initiatives to help stimulate spending.

Leading up to Covid-19 Wellington was on a path for increased spending, employment, tourism and postive growth in market share for international students. WellingtonNZ’s contribution to that growth was strong – on track to meet or exceed all our KPIs.

However, like other regions across New Zealand, the pandemic had a substantial impact on Wellington which affected our annual figures. Yet as an organisation we are proud of how we’ve responded to the challenges and the support we provided.

Here’s a summary of what WellingtonNZ has been up to over the year, and the results we’ve secured for the Wellington region.

Business Unit Highlights

Through the Regional Business Programme, excluding Covid business support, WellingtonNZ engaged with 341 businesses, delivering $412,575 of Capability Vouchers to 116 of those businesses to provide support in areas like business planning, financial management and marketing.

To fund the development of new innovation we provided $2,327,435 of R&D grants to businesses in the region. This funding helps businesses access growth advice and invest in new technology development in areas like robotics, AI and high-value manufacturing.

Delivered professional service vouchers to businesses with fewer than 100 employees to help them cope with the Covid fallout. Through this scheme we provided:

$1.4m value of services

1775 people in the region engaged with 17 live-streamed webinars.

1175 business owners/managers contacted for advice or voucher funding

642 Covid-19 Vouchers issued

66 Māori Businesses contacted with 30 receiving voucher funding totalling $68,060

Established a new Kaiwhakatupu Pakihi Māori (Māori Business Growth Advisor) position to explore how best WellingtonNZ can contribute to the the eco-system of support and funding for pakihi Māori (Māori business) across the Wellington region.

Supported the delivery of Pop-Up Business School Aotearoa in Kāpiti and Wellington city to fast track entrepreneurial ideas and accelerate projects, Collectively, the two pop-up schools had 74 attendees.

The first Kāpiti Pop-Up Business School Aotearoa which was completed at the start of the 2019/20 financial year had 50 attendees.

Invested in the Thrive programme delivered by Creative HQ. It supported 125 businesses to pivot and create a new business plan to cope with impacts of Covid.

Spotlight on: R&D - Eight360

Eight360 is a Petone-based tech start-up founded by three local engineers in 2015, with the intention of creating a new type of VR motion simulator for helicopter pilot training.

The R&D team first had contact with the company in 2016 when they were building their first prototype.

In 2020, with a robust prototype and commercial opportunities, WellingtonNZ helped Eight360 access $180,000 in R&D funding from Callaghan Innovation and connected them to Intellectual Property and Advance Manufacturing teams at Callaghan to further their product. The team has grown from eight to 16 FTEs in 2020.

'We have assembled an amazing team of highly skilled locals, coming from a variety of Wellington's best tech companies. The garage-project hacker/maker mindset is part of our DNA, and we want to preserve it because Kiwi No 8 wire solutions are how we have made it this far and is what keeps us ahead of the game.'

Terry Miller | Founder and Chief Technical Officer

Business stars incubated and accelerated

Creative HQ continued to accelerate innovation within start-ups, government and other enterprises, focused on reinforcing our ability and capacity with a strong suite of products to attend to growing demand for our capability-building programmes, both in Aotearoa and internationally.

$2.2m Investment raised by incubated businesses

$5.2m Investment raised by accelerated businesses

50 Wellington start-ups on the Creative HQ Platform

12 Investable companies created by Creative HQ

Pre-COVID 2019 saw our first ever tourism-focused Lightning Lab with eight startups from across NZ, one from Australia, and two public/private sector project teams to participate in the 12-week accelerator programme.

Post-COVID, Creative HQ reformated their programmes for delivery in an online environment and ran design sprints with numerous organisations to help them responded to the challenges of Covid-19.

A growing area of focus in bicultural design alongside partners Aatea Solutions saw Creative HQ, Aatea and Ministry of Education launching a pilot programme for 2,000 school-aged children to help improve social and emotional learning in schools.

New talent harnessed for Wellington

International students add creativity, new thinking and cultural diversity to the Wellington region, as well as contributing strongly to the regional economy. We worked with students, graduates, Wellington businesses and government agencies to enhance development opportunities.

386 Students/graduates assisted into internships, work experience or work integrated learning programmes. Of these, 230 were through Summer of Tech and Summer of Biz programmes, with around 75 per cent offered on-going work by their employers.

126 Students worked directly with industry on credit-earning work integrated learning projects.

WellingtonNZ continued to lead by example by hosting domestic and international student interns.

Screen Wellington

Silver screen solid gold for Wellington

Screen Wellington continues to play a pivotal role in making the region’s screen industry wildly famous.

The Wellington screen sector is recognised globally for excellence and that is set to grow with Wellington named a UNESCO City of Film – one of just 18 cities worldwide to hold the honour.

It’s still camera, lights, action

The pipeline of filming work for the year was steady. Highlights included the filming of K-Pop band ONEUS’ latest music video in the Wellington region, with some stunning scenes filmed on the Wairarapa coastline, while feature film Poppy was the first to resume production following the lockdown, with most of the film shot in Kāpiti.

A successful pitch to the Advertising Producers Group collective saw Screen Wellington bid for five television commercials, and several feature films commenced principal photography throughout the region.

Screen Wellington contributed to the draft Screen Sector 2030 transformation strategy, to inform national screen industry objectives.

380 Film permits issued for filming across the region

13.3M Permitting value to the region

Spotlight on: Wellington UNESCO City of Film

In November, Wellington was awarded the UNESCO City of Film designation, becoming part of the global UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

This designation is global recognition of Wellington’s screen industry success, and acknowledges how the industry contributed socially, culturally and economically to the development of the city and New Zealand’s wider screen sector.

'Wellington has worked hard to become an iconic city of film, and we’re thrilled it’s been named a UNESCO Creative City.'

Robyn Baker | Chair of the NZ National Commission for UNESCO

Tākina - a purpose-built Convention Centre

It’s been an exciting year with construction kicking off on Tākina, the city’s first purpose-built convention and exhibition centre. The $189m project will be completed in early 2023. WellingtonNZ worked with mana whenua Te Ātiawa, Wellington City Council and Cato Design to develop the brand and narrative. The Business Events Wellington team promoted Tākina to the local and Australian market, generating a number of pencil bookings for post 2023.

i-SITE geared up for success

The i-SITE extension and refurbishment was completed and the facility, located outside the Michael Fowler Centre reopened in September. A particular highlight was the Ngake and Whataitai street art, painted by local artist Xoe Hall. The life-sized model of Gandalf, from the Lord of the Rings, continued to be an Insta-hit on Instagram.

Visitor spend was booming

Pre-Covid, Wellington was outperforming the national average across several markets including China, Australia and USA. At Year End January 2020, Wellington was up 12.1 per cent in International Visitor Spend compared to the National average of 7 per cent, according to the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates.

Getting Fliggy with it

A Wellington ‘store’ was launched on Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel marketplace. It allows Alipay-enabled Wellington businesses to connect directly with Chinese travellers. The first booking through the site was for Wellington Cable Car.

Cruise ship season

Even with the premature end, Wellington enjoyed another strong cruise ship season, with more than 210,000 passengers enjoying the sights and spending throughout Wellington. A new two-stop shuttle bus model was successful, spreading visitors more widely through the CBD.

Travel agents

More than 2,300 travel agents were trained in person, at Tourism New Zealand events, on webinars and at training days in New Zealand. Even in lockdown, joint training webinars with Tourism NZ continued.

Find Your Wild

Find Your Wild is the brand behind the Wellington Regional Trails Framework which includes the WellingtonRegionalTrails.com website. The project sees WellingtonNZ working in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council, Councils across the region and the Department of Conservation to position Wellington as a world-class trails destination. Our Facebook and Instagram channels have excellent engagement with Wellington residents across the region.

Meeting matters

Business Events Wellington had a year of forging new relationships by attending tradeshows and networking events across New Zealand and Australia. A highlight was the team’s attendance at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) which is the leading trade event for the meetings and event industry in the Asia/Pacific region. AIME is an international event held annually in Melbourne, the team held 37 pre scheduled appointments with buyers from more than 30 countries.

$13.4 Million Value of international business events secured by Business Events Wellington

28 conferences won

Top 5 conference bids won

International Society of Public Law Conference 2022 with 600 delegates

The Island Biology Conference 2022 with 400 delegates

Pacific Association of Chemical Ecologists Conference 2025 with 400 delegates

Conference of Interactive Surfaces and Spaces 2022 with 200 delegates

Australasian Society for Autism Research with 200 delegates

Wellington as a destination

14 marketing campaigns

1,149 WellingtonNZ generated media articles

1.87m Unique Sessions on WellingtonNZ.com and other sites.

525,073 Followers across our social media channels and digital newsletters are up 11.9% on last year.

The best thing about Wellington has always been its people. We’re caring, we’re welcoming and inclusive, we support one another. They were the overriding principles used to create the Love Local campaign – an initiative launched during lockdown urging Wellingtonians to support local businesses, providers, manufacturers and destinations.

Our marketing response following the impact of Covid-19 saw the marketing team shift gear to concentrate on supporting local.

Love local

A campaign launched a few days before we went into level 3 and 4 lockdown. It focused on getting consumers to support local businesses right across the Wellington region by buying from local companies via the internet or, where possible, at the few local retailers that remained open. It transformed our website with guides on how and where to buy local. The Love Local – Wellington Facebook group has more than 8,200 members.

WE Welcome You safety campaign

Participating retailers and hospitality outlets across Wellington city utilised prominent placement of WE Wellington posters and stickers to show they’re a safe, welcoming place to visit in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The campaign also encouraged Wellingtonians to show their support via a downloadable Facebook photo frame. WE Welcome was free for participants to take part.

At Yours & Delivery rebate

Partnered with the Visa Wellington on a Plate team to create an online platform showcasing 435 Wellington regional eateries which offered home deliveries. Each business could claim a $10 rebate, capped at $500 per business, for every home delivery during the first two weeks of Alert Level 3. The aim was to ensure more money went into the pockets of food and beverage businesses.

Save Our Venues

A live online gig to raise awareness and raise funds for four of Wellington’s most loved independent small venues struggling . The concert was viewed by more than 21,000 and had more than 8400 Facebook engagements to raise awareness for independent venues in Wellington – San Fran $54,565, Valhalla $24,491, Meow $19,765, and Moon 1 Newtown $6,170.

The Great WellingtonNZ Brick Challenge

Designed to keep the young and young at heart busy during the challenging lockdown period by building iconic Wellington structures. Winners in three age categories were judged by Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor. Prizes were donated by LEGO® Australia & New Zealand.

Wellington Unlocked retail campaign

Retail promotion which straddled the last four weeks of 2019/20 and the start of the new financial year. In total, it gave away $25,000 worth of prizes to encourage retail spending. 169 retailers from Wellington City took part in the campaign which provided an entry for every customer who spent $40.

During its first four weeks, $2,500 personalised shopping sprees, and two $2,500 grocery shopping sprees were given away.

There’s a Wellington for Everyone

A regional tourism campaign that did what it said on the tin – provided a Wellington for everyone – encouraging families to explore the region from the Wairarapa to the Hutt Valley, Kāpiti Coast and Porirua to the city during the school holidays. It was achieved by providing special deals to explore the wider region so locals could reacquaint themselves with their own back-yard.

Wellington Effect

The Wellington Effect, originally created last year, was given a lift with the addition of the Frank Sinatra track You Make Me Feel So Young. The campaign targeted post-lockdown, winter travelers ran from 21 June to 31 July and featured a prime time television commercial screened during One News, Shortland Street and Fair Go, at cinemas across the country, and on posters and digital promotions. It led to 17,000 campaign site visits and 2.8 million video play across multiple platforms.

Wellington Advent Calendar

The Wellington Advent Calendar is an important cog to boost retail and hospitality businesses over the quieter January/February/March period when locals go on holiday to other locations. It’s also provides a countdown to Christmas in a uniquely Wellington way.

The calendar ran throughout December featuring 24 offers from the likes of Tea Pea, Grace Patisserie, Wellington Zoo, Mischief Shoes, Spring Spa, East by West Ferries, Swimsuit and Whistling Sisters.

89,387 vouchers were downloaded, which resulted in a direct spend of $179,000.

Each year the artwork is created by a local artist. This year featured Wellington illustrator Ellie Compton’s hand drawn ‘Wellington Wind Factory'.

Wellington explodes onto US TV with Stephen Colbert

An undoubted highlight was hosting The Late Show with Stephen Colbert which aired to 3.5 million Americans, and that’s not counting the online audience. Stephen joined Bret McKenzie and Lucy Lawless for a tour of Wellington’s waterfront followed by a drink and sing along at Goldings Bar.

Sharing our food story with Aussies

To increase visitation from Australia during the 2020 Autumn shoulder season, we partnered with Bauer Media Australia to develop a fully integrated campaign utilising Australian-based, Kiwi-born celebrity chef Ben Shewry. Stories featured in Gourmet Traveller, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, and Country Life, with videos on YouTube.

Whilst the campaign was unable to be completed due to Covid-19, by mid-April 2020 we had reached 4.2 million Australians with a media value of $1.3 million.

Making news Wellington-style

Wellington has stories to tell and WellingtonNZ knows how to get them told by journalists, videographers and broadcast specialists.

1,149 Media stories across international and domestic markets

$30m Value of the media coverage

42 Journalists hosted in Wellington

320 Business/Corporate media stories

Events to drive you wild

Wellington and events are synonymous and the city showed its true colours in trying circumstances, bookended with the sold out All Blacks test versus South Africa at Sky Stadium in July and more than 33,000 fans attending the Queen with Adam Lambert gig in February.

There was also the crowd-pleasing WOW which, according to a new economic impact report, pumped $27.9m into the local economy.

Visa Wellington on a Plate and the sold out Beervana were also back to thrill both foodies and hop-heads alike.

The Major Events team also worked tirelessly to help New Zealand be awarded the co-hosting rights with Australia to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, one of the biggest sporting events on the world calendar.

$73m Economic impact from major events

$4.14m Invested in Major Events

21:01 Return on investment for Major Events in Wellington

Clockwise from left / All Blacks, Beervana, Cuba Dupa, Visa Wellington On a Plate, Eminem

Spotlight On: NZ Festival of the Arts

This year more than 150, 000 people experienced the NZ Festival. It saw more than 500 artists from 33 countries thrill audiences over 200-plus events, including six world premieres and 14 New Zealand Festival of the Arts commissions.

The festival expanded across the region, including Te Ata in Porirua, which bought together over 700 young people.

It reached more than 8,000 youth through free events, workshops, family focused content and the SchoolsFest programme. It was also the most accessible festival ever and delivered 16 events for the deaf, hard of hearing, blind, as well as adults with additional needs. There were also 100 free events that were enjoyed by more than 100,000 people.

To finish the Festival the Writers Programme was delivered across all three weeks of the Festival, where over 100 great minds shared their ideas and curiosities.

WellingtonNZ worked alongside New Zealand Major Events and other cities to help New Zealand secure the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 co-hosting rights with Australia. The previous tournament in 2019 was watched by a global audience of 1.12 billion across all platforms. The tournament, which will host 32 teams including the Football Ferns, has the potential to be the largest sporting event ever hosted in New Zealand. Sky Stadium is the second largest in New Zealand and is likely to play a key role hosting games, while Wellington city will be ready for an influx of football fans.

A place for all with Venues Wellington

The St James Theatre and the Wellington Town Hall remain closed while being significantly upgraded. Stepping up to the plate was the 86-year-old Opera House which became our go-to venue to host a wide range of events including concerts, stand-up comedy, rescheduled CubaDupa performances, events specifically for cruise ship passengers and Chinese cultural events.

Performance Events

192 Number of performance events in our venues

277,840 Total Audience

68,077 Total out-of-region audience

Scores of sold out performances including:

Dara O'Briain, Neil Young's Live Rust 40th Anniversary as performed by a NZ supergroup, Breaking Beats: Halloween Rave, Dylan Moran, AMERICA, My Dad Wrote a Porno Live Podcast, NZSO Shed Series: Symmetries, Hannah Gadsby and NZSO Ngū Kīoro... Harikoa Ake.

Conference Events

133 Conference events held in our venues

129,176 Total conference delegates (Venues Wellington)

1,407 Total out-of-region conference delegates

Wild about our People

Our people are crucial to our success. Over the past two years we have lifted our staff engagement score by 13 per cent. In our latest pulse survey, 80 per cent of respondents recommended WellingtonNZ as a great place to work. Reflecting this, our staff turnover rate fell throughout the year.

We launched our Leadership Fundamentals programme which continued virtually during Covid lockdown. We will continue our people development during 2021 with a programme of work around Diversity and Inclusion alongside another that recognises and develops our exceptional talent.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

WellingtonNZ believes being a sustainably responsible business is essential to our goal of making the Wellington region Wildly Famous.

This year we completed a full waste audit on our corporate function which highlighted some small changes to make. We will next focus on other parts of the organisation starting with the events spaces to ensure they produce as little waste as practicable.

We continue with our programme to replace all lights with LED bulbs at the venues we manage, put timers on lights and ensure our heating systems are as efficient as possible.

We continue to support local producers, including beverage makers, and other sustainable business practices.

Financial Statements and Statement of Service Performance