High-powered meeting house

Rod Drury. Photo: ODT files
Rod Drury. Photo: ODT files
‘‘Build it and they’ll come’’ — that appears to be the thinking behind technology billionaire Rod Drury’s latest project in Queenstown, a Ngai Tahu-influenced meeting house for conclaves with high-level government figures and fellow tech innovators.

It was also another sign the Xero founder and former chief executive, who divides his time between the resort and Wellington, was putting roots deeper down into the area.

In July, the Queenstown Lakes District Council gave Mr Drury entity permission to build a massive two-storey, 2277sqm house on his 29ha landholding on the northern side of Speargrass Flat Rd, which is under construction.

Now, the same entity was proposing ‘Te Wharehuanui’, a bunker-like building about 200m from the house for the purpose of inviting ‘‘government leaders and global technology innovation company executives’’ for meetings.

Planning documents say the meeting house would bring ‘‘very influential people’’ to the resort, who Mr Drury hopes would invest in the Queenstown Lakes and create new technology, innovation and jobs.

They show the above-ground parts of the building, with a 587sq m footprint, would consist of blackened steel, schist stone and concrete.

It would sit in a park-like setting of exotic trees and ‘‘naturalistic sweeps’’ of shrubs and tussock.

Inside, it is dominated by a circular, sunken meeting room, with a skylight above the main meeting table and large bifold doors opening to northern and southern views.

There would be no accommodation or cooking facilities, and the building would not be let out commercially.

An architectural statement by Sumich Chaplin Architects, which also designed the nearby house, says Te Wharehuanui was designed to ‘‘pierce under the rolling landscape with the natural ground line and native grassland flowing over the building as a green roof’’.

The documents said the applicant identifies with Ngai Tahu, and wishes to ‘‘instil Ngai Tahu’s values, as well as art, with Te Wharehuanui as inspiration and guidance for officials/executives who visit’’.

Besides building projects, Mr Drury has been spending millions on the district’s mountain biking scene, plus his family has supported local initiatives including those supporting mental health and resilience.

Mr Drury could not be reached for comment by deadline.



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