Auckland’s business events ambassador programme the Auckland Advocate Alliance (AAA) – which has so far helped to inject $40m into the city’s economy – has welcomed its 50th member.

Starting with just 14 members in 2015, the alliance was the first of its kind to launch in New Zealand and is managed by the Auckland Convention Bureau (ACB) to support local academics and sector experts to bring high-profile conferences and events to Auckland.

As the programme celebrates its fifth-year milestone, it continues to deliver valuable economic benefits to Auckland – having helped to secure more than 34 international conferences so far.

The 50 advocates represent a broad range of knowledge, from cancer drug research to paediatric medicine, technology, engineering, internet security and infrastructure.

The newest advocate is Kath Eastwood, General Manager of Dietitians NZ, who is in the process of bidding for her first event, The International Congress of Dietetics in 2028. 

Kath Eastwood says: “ACB has been amazing. I’m a dietitian by trade, not an events expert, and they’ve helped us throughout the whole process.”

One of the original advocates is Nirmal Nair, Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at The University of Auckland. 

He has been instrumental in bringing four international conferences to Auckland, worth $2.5m. He is now bidding for a fifth, which would deliver another $500,000 to the local economy. 

Nirmal Nair says: “It’s a way of giving back to the city. These conferences attract high net worth individuals, enabling us to show our knowledge, make connections in our industry and raise the visibility of our people.”

Head of ACB, Anna Hayward says the advocates within the AAA programme play a key role in the success of Auckland as a business events destination.

“We are extremely fortunate to work in partnership with the passionate leaders within our ambassador programme who assist us by not only bidding to host influential conferences in Auckland, but also opening doors and communicating the widespread benefits of bringing an international event to our region.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s economic hub with universities that consistently rank among the best in the world. 

It’s an honour to work alongside our advocates who help to showcase our intellectual and innovative expertise to the world.

An event was held on 16 December to acknowledge the support and success of those within the programme, with the advocates getting a sneak peek at the incredible movie magic and events capabilities of the newly opened Weta Unleashed.