Time to count the cost as investigators head to gutted NZICC

Investigators and insurers have begun to inspect the gutted shell of SkyCity’s international convention centre.

Speaking to Stuff, Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) Assistant Area Commander Mike Shaw said a “large number” of investigation teams were preparing to work inside the NZ$700 million building.

“Everyone kind of does a separate investigation – we are the lead on it, we need to determine the cause,” he said.

“But we’re in conjunction with the other people, Fletcher and the insurance companies obviously that are working with Fletcher and things.”

Shaw would not be drawn into speculation over what started the blaze, despite multiple reports that a worker leaving a blow torch on while going for a smoko ignited the fire.

In the meantime, SkyCity CEO Graeme Stephens and his team are busy crunching the numbers and trying to figure out how much the catastrophic fire will cost them.

The economic impact goes beyond the cost of the rebuild and spills over into every aspect of the visitor economy, with the NZICC opening now on hold and major events booked in scrambling to find new venues.

SkyCity also had to evacuate its nearby hotel and casino, “the first time in the company’s history that everything was shut”, he said.

“We have insurance policies and they would expend to the project itself,” he told Stuff.

Lawyers from both SkyCity and Fletcher Building, who are responsible for the construction, will be going over their insurance policies with fine comb as they wait for the investigators to deliver their findings.

In a statement posted on LinkedIn, the convention centre said the fire was “devastating for all of the team, our partners and everyone who has contributed to the creation NZICC”.

“The team are overwhelmed and humbled by all the kind words, messages and support offered from our family, friends, clients and business events community from all around the world. Please know the team are committed to opening a world class convention centre in the future and we thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this time. No te mea e tu ana i a matou. (Thank you for standing with us.)”