WoW factor persuades Weta boss to swap jobs

Weta Ltd general manager Tim Launder expects Weta Cave to draw about 150,000 visitors this year.
Weta Ltd general manager Tim Launder expects Weta Cave to draw about 150,000 visitors this year.

World of WearableArt has sewn up Weta's general manager as it sets the stage for international growth following a $900,000 government investment.

Tim Launder, who has been with Weta for six years, was yesterday announced as WoW's new general manager.

The Nelson-based company's design competition and show was founded in 1987 but has grown such that last year's event was attended by over 47,000 people.

The show moved to Wellington in 2005 and was hosted at its first international venue in 2012, as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival's 40th anniversary in 2012.

A recent Wellington City Council report found it injected more than $20 million into the Wellington economy last year, up from $15.1m in 2009.

Launder would join WoW, which Weta partners, from mid-May, and be based in Nelson.

He said he was looking forward to taking the business to a new level.

"The role offers the excitement of being a part of a creative product as well as the commercial opportunity of further developing the business from both a commercial and creative perspective."

WoW's audience was expected to grow by 8000 this year with the season being extended to include a third weekend.

Last year, 71.6 per cent of visitors were non-Wellingtonians, compared with 65 per cent in 2009.

But in November the Government announced WoW would receive $900,000 for the three years to 2016 as part of the Major Events Development Fund.

It would help push WoW's global reach as the event looked at more offshore prospects.

The $900,000 would help fund three international touring exhibitions, across Asia, Europe and North America, as well as an international education programme and international business hosting opportunities. At the time Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said it was important the country championed the iconic WoW and that its uniqueness remained part of the country's intellectual property.

WoW founding director Dame Suzie Moncrieff said Launder was a good fit for the company who would lead it through its next phase of development.