History of the Michael Fowler Centre

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History of the Michael Fowler Centre

In the early 1970s Wellington City Council decided to develop a concert hall and convention centre for the capital with the initial objective of replacing the old Wellington Town Hall.

Architects Warren and Mahoney were appointed to prepare the plans in March 1975. Two months later their design was adopted, planning proceeded. In December 1979 the major construction tender was let, and work began early in 1980.

The Council’s vision of a sophisticated new concert hall and convention centre became a reality when the official opening took place on Friday 16 September 1983 and after considerable public debate in the years that followed the old Wellington Town Hall was also retained.

Mayor Michael Fowler’s determination to see this project completed was renowned in Wellington and in recognition of his efforts, the new centre bore his name.

Since the Michael Fowler Centre’s Gala Opening it has adapted to a wide variety of uses, many of the most famous names in many genres of world musical and theatrical performance have graced its stage and delighted packed houses. Equally it has hosted a significant number conferences and exhibitions which has delivered many financial benefits to Wellington City retailers, restaurants and accommodation providers.

The ambience of the interior of the Michael Fowler Centre is largely due to the fine natural materials used in its construction. Italian marble creates the grandeur of the entrance foyer, while the extensive use of New Zealand native rimu timber, both in the assembly areas and the main auditorium, gives a feeling of warmth and intimacy.

There are two huge carved pillars in the main foyer; Te Pou o Tauiwi (The Pillar of the Newcomers) and Te Pou o Wi Tako (The Pillar for the People of the Land), and these were placed with a special Maori ceremony just prior to the opening in 1983. Donated to the City of Wellington by Ngati Poneke Maori Association, the New Zealand native totara poles symbolise hope in a future of racial harmony and mutual support for the people of Wellington.

The vibrant wall hangings in the Renouf Foyer were created by Wellington artist Gordon Crook and provide colourful relief to the neutral tones of the centre. Ten abstract configurations viewed from the upper promenades represent different Wellington moods: the sun, the wind, the rain, a sunny morning in Central Park, a cloudy afternoon on Wellington harbour.


Michael Fowler Centre Auditorium in Theatre StyleClick here for more photos


Wellington Convention Centre
Tel: +64-04-801 4231 / Fax: +64-04-801 4310
Freephone: 0800 20 23 24
111 Wakefield Street,
Wellington 6011, New Zealand

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