3 Jun 2024

Viaduct Events Centre returns to central Auckland’s business events scene

by Jenny Barrett

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited & suppliers collaborate to achieve tight timeframe

Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre, located on the waterfront amid the reinvigorated Wynyard Quarter, makes the most of its impressive outlook with glass walls, high ceilings and balconies. No doubt major selling points for this premium venue but a challenge for the Tātaki Auckland Unlimited (TAU) facilities team who recently led a complete refit. Handed back to Auckland Council in December 2022, after housing Emirates Team New Zealand for four years, the other test for TAU was the timeframe. The first event, the Helloworld Travel Owner Managers Dinner, was scheduled for 28th April 2023, giving the team just four months.

Joey Rabel, Manager – Technical Equipment for Auckland Live venues, was tasked with managing the procurement and installation of the audio, AV, lighting and staging equipment and systems. “When we got it back it was essentially an empty shell apart from the data infrastructure and basic room lighting. Anything that we had removed prior to handing the venue over to Team New Zealand four years earlier was obsolete or had been repurposed.”

Joey relied on his suppliers for their expertise, “We first got into the building in December ’22 and needed to be up and running by April. With our in-house Technical Production team, we spec’d equipment and I started talking to solutions providers about our options. Bearing in mind New Zealand still had huge supply chain issues stemming from Covid, I knew it would require close collaboration to pull it off on schedule.”

New Zealander of the Year 2024

Viaduct Events Centre (VEC) is a 6,000m² space that spans three levels, with separate rooms that make it ideal for a range of events, including tradeshows and smaller exhibitions, gala dinners, and conferences. It is one of central Auckland’s largest banquet spaces with capacity for up to 1,200 guests. The brief comprised standard conferencing facilities capable of being patched into the fibre network, a PA system, digital signage, five motorised spine trusses for the main ballroom, Waiheke Room wash lighting and break-up gobo wash, and large screen projection.

Smaller spaces needed rigging infrastructure. Joey summarises, “The proviso for everything was that it was to be flexible and convenient to configure and control so that rooms could be turned around as quickly as possible. The glass and the high ceilings meant the installed PA system needed to be designed carefully to achieve excellent intelligibility.”

ULA Group were one of the companies that came to the party, providing solutions and working with manufacturers to achieve the tight timeframe. ULA Group have a long- standing relationship with Auckland Live (now TAU), having supplied many lighting and visual technology products for their venues and projects. Recent examples include LED screens for a digital artwork by renowned artist Lisa Reihana at Aotea Centre, and a portable, containerised digital screen in Aotea Square.

Garth Reynolds, Branch Manager NZ, recalls that recognising the tight timeframes, Auckland Live got ahead of the game and approached them as early as August ’22 for the staples such as house lighting, “Malcolm Ibel [Ex Head of Lighting] wanted to see an option to replace their old Litecraft MP12-FC’s which had given them great service but were now end of life. The new fixtures needed to be bright, while still being able to provide excellent colour and colour temperature control. After seeing a sample of the Elation KL-Par FC, Malcolm knew it was the right fixture for the job and committed to purchasing 40 units.” The fixtures are installed as house lighting for the Waiheke 1 Room on the catwalk above the main venue floor. ULA Group additionally supplied two Elation Netron RDM6XL splitters.

ULA Group also supported TAU with the supply of chain-hoists, “The RFQ for hoists came out in October ’22 and there were month long backlogs at that time. The team knew what was required with some customisation, so we pushed the supply chain and VEC took receipt a week or two before they opened. The manufacturer did a great job. The ULA Group team worked closely with ChainMaster who, recognising the urgency, priority shipped the 22 D8 Plus 500kg Motors with the specified 24V control, Weiland connectors, 16m chains, and suspension plates, ensuring their timely arrival into NZ.

Auckland Conventions Bureau Partners Showcase

The result of the early procurement of the long lead items, and the hard work and commitment of all the suppliers, saw Viaduct Events Centre fitted out in four months, over the holidays, and in the midst of a supply chain crisis. Joey congratulates all involved, “It was a smooth process in the end. All the suppliers, like Garth and the team at ULA Group, went the extra mile and we met the deadline for the first event.” The opening was marked with a Whakawātea (traditional blessing) on 27 April 2023.

Since opening the VEC has played host to some high profile events including NZ Fashion Week, Boat Show, New Zealander of the Year, Best Design Awards, Winetopia and Auckland Art Fair.

The return of the Viaduct Events Centre to TAU’s venue line-up has been well-received by clients: “Thank you for the outstanding delivery of the Dental Expo at the Viaduct Events Centre. Not only did the event roll out to plan, it exceeded expectations. Great events are a team effort, and your team really were a standout.” – Victoria Jantke, Dental Expo.

The Suppliers

  • Bartons Sound Systems – supply and installation, venue PA system – Q-SYS control, amps, InDesign speakers
  • Connect NZ – supply and installation, conference equipment, digital signage
  • Direct Imports – Cameo CLP2FC profile lights
  • EXEO Technologies – supply & installation, events technical fibre and network patching
  • LS Group 2017 Ltd – Nivoflex portable stage modules
  • Shore Engineering Ltd – supply & installation, custom designed rigging solution in Kawau Room 1
  • ShowQuip Ltd – Global Truss, 400 x 400mm x 150m, SRS Hoist Controllers
  • Stagemechanics Ltd – supply & installation, draping system for Waiheke Room 1
  • ULA Group – 40 x Elation KL PAR FC fixtures, 2 x Elation Netron RDM6XL Splitters, 22 x ChainMaster D8 Plus 500kg Motors with the specified 24V control, Weiland connectors, 16m chains


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