Extra funding for Wellington's Maui-inspired movie museum gets green light
Wellington has landed its golden fish after city councillors voted to splash an extra $15 million of ratepayers' money on an elaborate design for the city's combined movie museum and convention centre.
All 15 councillors voted in favour of a proposed $150m Maui-inspired creation, which includes a 1100-seat conference centre and a museum run by Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor.
The alternative design, which fitted the previously approved $134.4m budget, was also an option for councillors. But designers said it could be a "building of anywhere".
The chosen plan draws on Wellington's maritime location, its dramatic weather patterns and Maori mythology as the head of Maui's fish: Te Upoko o te Ika.
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Designers Studio Pacific Architecture said the building could be clad with a "shingle-like skin" around a soft-flowing form, which would sell Wellington in the same way as the Opera House does for Sydney.
Construction is expected to start early next year.
Commercial sensitivity was cited for councillors approving the plan behind closed doors on Wednesday.
The council was reluctant to discuss financial details until an agreement was formalised with Jackson and Taylor in November.
Their company, The Movie Museum Limited (TMML), will pay for the museum fitout, which will include Jackson's extensive collection of movie memorabilia.
The current decision is conditional upon getting final go-ahead from TMML.
TMML project director George Hickton said Jackson and Taylor were keen for the "iconic design" to be the public face of the museum. "It's evocative of what we are trying to create internally. It represents Wellington and the creativity that goes with film."
His TMML team had been busy working on detailed plans, designs and costings for the content and fit-out of the museum and that will be their main focus for some time to come.
"When we get to the end of that phase, we hope to share more about the vision for the museum interior of what will be a dynamic new building."
Deputy Mayor Justin Lester said the chosen design would generate serious "wow factor" and would create 540 jobs during construction and 568 ongoing jobs once operational.
Jo Coughlan, chairwoman of the economic development committee, said the extra $15m was in line with provisions in the council's Long-Term Plan.
"The extra cost is money well spent, especially as all the fundamentals of the business case have not changed. In fact, there have been some improvements. There is a slightly greater cost but we have a more valuable asset that will have a greater economic benefit."
During Wednesday's full council meeting, mayor Celia Wade-Brown said that, even though public money was at stake, holding the discussion in public was not in the best interest of the deal. "It's about our relationships with suppliers and partners going forward."
Andy Foster, Helene Ritchie and Iona Pannett were the only councillors who voted for the meeting to be held in public.
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