Christchurch Rolls Out a New Event Advocacy Programme with Thought Leaders

30th Mar, 2023

Local powerhouse leaders, including former Mayor and globally respected leader in disaster resilience The Honourable Lianne Dalziel, and world champion triathlete and pioneer for equity in sport Erin Baker are among the first advocates in Ōtautahi's new Business Events Advocate Programme, Tūwhana.

Designed to attract prestigious international conferences to Christchurch, the programme brings together influential thought leaders from multiple sectors and communities who work to promote Ōtautahi Christchurch as an international destination for business events.

Tūwhana, which means "to defend", will be the first of its kind for the city with Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger as the programme's patron. He launched Tūwhana at a dinner for invited guests held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention centre last night (29 March).

“Christchurch is a fantastic destination for business events with new facilities and world class hospitality. Tūwhana gets us out championing our city on a greater stage, attracting leading conferences from all over the world. Together with our advocates, I look forward to welcoming these valuable business events and their delegates to Canterbury,” says Mauger.

With a team of sector experts already on board, Tūwhana aims to attract a pipeline of business events – welcoming conferences from around the world to Christchurch.

ChristchurchNZ Head of Business Events, Megan Crum says business events are highly valuable as they provide a platform to promote Ōtautahi Christchurch as a world-leading destination.

“They enhance our international reputation by showcasing our knowledge, innovation and expertise to delegates and academics from around the world.

“As well as delivering significant economic benefits for the city, they can act as an enabler for sectors of focus, leveraging other city activity such as major events, accelerating innovation, and driving societal and environmental change,” she says.

“The calibre of advocates already on board the advocate programme speaks to the depth of expertise and knowledge that is available here in Ōtautahi. The relationships built through business events are invaluable, they can also help attract investment and talent flows to the city over the longer-term.”

World champion triathlete Erin Baker addressing guests at the official ceremony.

ChristchurchNZ says that business events provide an opportunity for a global audience to come together with the community in Christchurch to debate, connect and share their knowledge. According to them, the knowledge that is shared during these gatherings is incredibly valuable for the city, and will support the region in a powerful, long-lasting way.

Computer Science and Education Technology expert Tanja Mitrović says, “I have a lot of international collaborators. I think most of my current research started from conferences and meeting people at conferences. People still like to talk to each other and see what their most recent research developments are and make plans for collaborating in the future.”

Tūwhana's current advocates include a range of business leaders and specialists who are passionate about their sector and the future potential of Ōtautahi Christchurch. They are:

  • World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Christchurch City Council Community Board member, Bridget Williams is the founder of Bead and Proceed, an organisation that educates people about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services as a triathlete, Erin Baker is regarded globally as one of the best female triathletes of all time and a pioneer for equity in sport.
  • Tanya McCall, chair of Tangata Atumotu Trust, a not-for-profit Pasifika health and social services provider, is a knowledgeable leader in Christchurch's health sector. She is the Interim Executive Director of Community and Public Health Te Mana Ora in Waitaha Canterbury.
  • Former President and Fellow of the Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education, Tanja Mitrović specialises in intelligent tutoring systems, student modelling and learning analytics, and is a Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Canterbury.
  • Awarded with a Queens Service Medal for services to palliative care, Kate Reid is chair of the Cancer Society of New Zealand's Canterbury/West Coast Division, sits on the board of Governance New Zealand and is a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury, specialising in palliative care and oncology nursing.
  • Recipient of the NZSAR Award for collaborative rescue operations in Antarctica, Graeme Ayres is an Antarctic legend and natural environment champion, and the current Chief Assurance Officer at the Department of Conservation.
  • Former Mayor of Christchurch, The Honourable Lianne Dalziel served as an MP for 23 years and is a globally respected leader in disaster resilience and developing sustainable communities.

The Tūwhana advocate programme intends to continue to grow with the addition of representatives from priority sectors for Ōtautahi Christchurch.

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