• The major year-long expansion of Auckland Council-owned Auckland Film Studios has been completed
  • The two new sound stages were opened by Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Hon Carmel Sepuloni, and Mayor Wayne Brown today
  • The project involved the construction of two 2000 sq m sound stages, which cement AFS and Auckland’s west as an international screen destination

Auckland is celebrating a fantastic milestone for the region’s thriving screen production industry, with the opening today of two new world-class sound stages at Auckland Film Studios in Henderson.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown joined Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, in opening the two 2,000 square metre stages which were gifted the name of ‘Te Pūtahi’ (to join and intersect) by mana whenua Te Kawerau a Maki – as a place where people will meet to create works for the world stage.

The new buildings are the first major addition to Auckland Film Studios (AFS) since their only other large purpose-built sound stage was opened 16 years ago, and mean the studios now have five stages totalling more than 7,500 square metres.

The year-long construction project was made possible by $30 million funding from the Government, with the remaining $7.5 million from studio owner Auckland Council.

Mayor Brown said: “Auckland is proud to have played a critical role in the development of New Zealand’s screen production industry, building upon the work of pioneers like South Pacific Pictures.

“The two new stages mean AFS can now cater for much larger single productions, or multiple smaller productions at once. They strengthen AFS and Auckland’s west as a screen destination at a time when New Zealand’s global reputation for big budget productions is growing.”

Auckland Council inherited the studios in 2010 from legacy Waitakere City Council, which had invested in the studios with a vision to harness screen production’s long-term economic and social benefits for Auckland’s west.

In May this year, councillors approved the sale of the studios which are managed by Eke Panuku Development Auckland and operated by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited. The outcome of that process is likely to be known in the new year.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Chief Executive Nick Hill said the expansion project was a good example of strategic economic development in action.

“As Council’s economic development agency, we saw a great opportunity to help solve a problem that has hampered the Auckland industry’s growth for many years – we had talented crew and fantastic locations, but a lack of high-quality purpose-built studio space.

“Global demand for studio space and quality content has risen over the past five years. The new stages are already booked, with a production set to occupy them in the new year.”

Nick Hill said the expansion is expected to deliver hundreds more high-skilled screen production jobs – most of them in the west – and support our region’s more than 2,000 screen production-based businesses.

“We are proud to have worked with government, the wider council whānau and industry to secure AFS’ future as the cornerstone of our region’s screen industry, and a funding agreement which included the significant re-investment component,” said Nick Hill.

The expansion funding agreement with the Government means any sale will require its $30m contribution to be re-invested by council in further screen-related infrastructure.

“The Crown’s major contribution to this project allowed us to bring to life our vision to turn AFS into a world-class screen asset that will boost Auckland’s and New Zealand’s economic recovery.”

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited also played a key role in the development of privately owned Kumeu Film Studios, which opened two large new stages in 2018. Thanks to a range of private and public sector investment, sound stage space in Auckland has grown from about 5,000 square metres to more than 32,000 square metres in the past decade – and a number of large international productions have come here to shoot.

Nick Hill said: “The expansion was a great collaboration between central and local government, senior screen producers who provided expert input to the stage design, and our construction contractor – which delivered on time despite the challenging building environment.

“Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is committed to continuing to support our region’s screen production industry, which is a major contributor to Auckland’s GDP, a major provider of jobs, and a great high-tech export earner for New Zealand.”