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Auckland Mayor Phil Goff Confident Over APEC Meeting Preparations

Auckland mayor Phil Goff is promising the 2021 APEC summit will go ahead in the city, despite a venue not yet being confirmed.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

SkyCity yesterday admitted its convention centre, which was engulfed in flames last year while still under construction, would not be ready for APEC.

Goff said it was not the outcome they had hoped for, but the Auckland Council had contingency plans even before the fire and he was confident the event would run smoothly.

"I watched that fire, my office overlooks the building, the damage is extensive - a quarter of a billion dollars worth of damage, I would have been astounded if it had been ready in time, so it's not as though we're not prepared. We are prepared, it will go ahead," he told RNZ's Morning Report.

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"The prime minister [Jacinda Ardern], I chatted with her yesterday. She confirmed that we will be holding APEC in Auckland, there's no other city as a venue being looked at, and we will cope and we will do it well.

He said the contingency plans could mean supplementing a main venue with some smaller venues as well for some of the side meetings.

"Auckland Council and the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are working together right from the beginning because we were never sure about what the completion date for the convention centre would be, even before the fire."

"We're looking at plans there where some of the businesses in the city centre for the key leaders meeting - it's possible for example the Auckland Council where we've got some thousands of people working in a building right adjacent to the Aotea Square, that may be a day off for staff and that reduces the pressure that would otherwise be on our transport infrastructure."

He said the leaders' meeting was expected to bring in about 10,000 visitors and while APEC meetings could inevitably put pressure on infrastructure it was nothing insurmountable.

"Having been to a few APEC meetings in my time in places like Shanghai when they closed all the motorways down and we had specific convoys for each of the leaders and the foreign ministers, it is disruptive from a transport point of view," he said.

"I think the other good news is that everybody was aware that over the recent years we've had a shortage of hotel accommodation in Auckland but we're building hotel rooms at a rate of about 1000 a year at the moment.

"It will create a small degree of inconvenience for Aucklanders but I think most Aucklanders are aware that hosting some of the most powerful leaders in the world and the 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific region is a big deal for Auckland, it's valuable to Auckland and I think people will understand."

He said any delay in SKyCity admitting the centre would not be ready in time had not negatively affected the contingency plans at all.

"It will be supposedly near completion by, I think they're now talking about, the first quarter of 2022. Some of the venues within the convention centre could potentially be used but there's no firm plans around that at all."

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