Grand central station: Railway to stadium plan could transform 'poorly presented' part of Wellington

An artist's impression of a major new possible development stretching from the Wellington Railway Station to Westpac ...

An artist's impression of a major new possible development stretching from the Wellington Railway Station to Westpac Stadium. The plan includes a tower, a large indoor arena, hotels and a major retail development.

An ambitious plan for an indoor arena, along with a huge tower, hotels and a retail park in downtown Wellington has been outlined to senior figures in the Government.

Dubbed Project Kupe, the $1 billion project would stretch from the Wellington Railway Station, to near the existing Westpac Stadium.

A presentation brands it as a "transformational" investment in the capital, complete with a 12,000 seat indoor stadium for sport and entertainment, 150 shops, a "cultural tower" celebrating New Zealand's history, and three hotels.

The 6 hectare project would be rounded off with a 60-unit apartment complex, a covered walkway from the station to the stadium, and 2300 extra car parks.

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It's also being pitched as a potential civil defence site for Wellington.

Conceptual drawings of what has been dubbed "Project Kupe".

Conceptual drawings of what has been dubbed "Project Kupe".

In August, Wellington's regional mayors ordered a feasibility study for an arena and, while no one has disclosed the preferred location, a site which integrated with the existing stadium concourse and parking has been mooted before.

Although Project Kupe appears to be at a conceptual stage, and an extremely ambitious project, high level meetings have been undertaken.

In July, Finance Minister Steven Joyce and his officials in the Beehive heard a presentation on the plan from Toa Pomare, chairman of the Taranaki-Whanui Commercial Board, the commercial arm of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) and Neville Baker, the PNBST's former chairman.

An artist's impression of the inside of the development.

An artist's impression of the inside of the development.

The meeting, which raised the possibility of a direct Crown contribution to the project, described it as a "world class development to enhance, invigorate and gentrify a poorly presented area of the capital".

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Chris Laidlaw, the chairman of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, attended the Joyce meeting, along with the council's chief executive Greg Campbell.

While Wellington City Council sources have played down the significance of its involvement, its chief executive Kevin Lavery has travelled to Hamilton at least once to discuss the project with representatives from Tainui, a gesture of the capital's nascent support for the project.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is also understood to have received a number of direct briefings on the project.

Earlier this year an agreement is said to have been struck between PNBST and some Tainui leaders.

A former trustee of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust indicated Tainui had long been interested in investing in a prestige project in the capital.

Promotional material calls the plan a pan-iwi investment opportunity to reinvest Treaty of Waitangi settlement funds into a major New Zealand development project.

A number of people linked to the project declined to comment publicly on the basis that they had agreed to keep the discussions private.

PNBST holds first refusal to buy the Wellington Railway Station, which was built in 1937, and air rights around the station. However, the trust has previously indicated it might allow the rights to lapse due to the cost of strengthening the building.

The rights were acquired as part of its Treaty settlement with the Crown in 2009.

In 2012, it was revealed that former trust chairman Sir Ngatata Love had offered to sell the station for conversion into a casino, to a would-be developer who was jailed for fraud. Love was jailed for fraud in 2016.


$1b investment

Up to 12,000 seat entertainment and sporting indoor arena

359 rooms in Arena Hotel

81 rooms in Boutique Railway Station Hotel

85 rooms in serviced apartments

60 apartment units

2300 extra car parks


 - Stuff


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