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New Zealand Principals’ Federation Annual Conference

NZPF Annual Conference, Queenstown

This was the first year that the Conference was brought back to the New Zealand Principals’ Federation to organise, after years of being run by local hosts. The Conference needed to raise the profile of the NZPA and to present a new overall look and feel, while preserving a local identity for each individual event.

Highlights include...
New brand identity and logo representing the strands of NZPF’s identity
Plenary sessions and compact exhibition stands to fit size constraints of venue
Exciting all-included activities afternoon and high-quality speakers
Creative multi-venue Welcome Reception to host large numbers
Vital relationship building with key business partners
The New Zealand Principals’ Federation
550 delegates and 65 exhibitors
Queenstown Events Centre
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There were considerable challenges in the size and amenity value of some of the Queenstown venues, which we were able to overcome with some creative problem-solving. We were able to leverage our relationships with local suppliers to save the Committee money and ease cashflow issues.

The NZPF Executive were given a key role in hosting and welcoming guests, highlighting their role as host and helping build relationships in their professional community. The business partners who support the event were well looked after, provided with valuable new hosting opportunities and their agreements honoured to the letter.

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Thank you for superb overall conference management of the event. You are a great team to work with!

Jill Corkin
Convenor, New Zealand Principals’ Federation Conference

Project in depth

New Zealand Principals’ Federation Annual Conference

The Challenge


The New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) is the pre-eminent organisation representing New Zealand’s school principals. NZPF’s commitment is to support-high quality professional learning and development. Its annual Conference provides a national focus for school, deputy and associate principals, as well as other senior leaders in education. The Conference is held in a different New Zealand location each year. Every four years there is a joint meeting of the NZPF and the Australian Primary Principals’ Association, which alternates between New Zealand and Australia.

Prior to 2017, the Conference was organised by the local hosting associations. This was the first year that the Conference was brought back to NZPF to organise. NZPF’s aim was to align the conference with its overall strategic plan and priorities and to ensure continuity year to year. With the change in organisational structure, it was important to ensure that the local associations continued to feel considered and involved.

The Conference Company had previously organised the 2013 NZPF Conference, and the 2016 Trans-Tasman Principals’ Conference, both in Auckland. It was on the strength of this existing relationship that NZPF asked us to help organise the 2017 event in Queenstown in a full-service capacity.

NZPF’s aims for the 2017 Conference were to lift the level of hospitality and welcome provided, and to create a sense of a new chapter in the event’s history. Challenges included developing a new Conference identity, finding ways to work within the venue limitations of the Queenstown Events Centre and locating a large enough venue for the 700-guest Welcome Reception. It was also important to make sure the 13 business partners who supported the Conference felt well looked after and their contribution highly valued.

The Solution


We led the design of a new Conference logo, used to create a common brand for all NZPF Conferences going forward. The logo design represented the lines of a korowai, with interwoven threads or ribbons representing the 5 strands or goals of NZPF: Leadership, Maori, Pasifika, Special Education and Business Partners.

We worked closely with the NZPF to develop a vision and strategy that could be adapted for each year’s Conference, while retaining a cohesive look and feel. Each year the conference theme will link back to the NZPF strategic plan, and the NZPF kawa (way of working) guides the planning. The kawa incorporates manaakitanga (leading with moral purpose), pono (having self-belief), ako (being a learner) and awhinatanga (guiding and supporting). These principles also formed the basis of the conference programme.

The 2017 conference theme of Hauora (Philosophy of Health and Wellbeing) fell under the Leadership strand. The tagline was ‘Remarkably Different’, reflecting the focus that year on ‘doing things differently’, and referencing the region’s spectacular mountain range, The Remarkables. The theme and tagline will change each year to reflect each event’s unique focus and location.

Working within the size limitations of the venue, we designed the programme around plenary sessions only, with keynote speakers. Expectations are always very high among the delegates about the quality of the speakers. To complement the educational speakers, we were able to secure high-calibre, entertaining speakers – Graham Henry and Mike King – who spoke to the event themes of Leadership and Hauora. Prior to the Conference, we provided logistical support for visits by 129 participants to local schools. During the Conference, local schools were invited to support the mihi whakatau and perform kapa haka, music and modern dance routines.

To alleviate the potential noise issues of an exhibition space immediately adjacent to the plenary space, we located the Exhibitors’ Lounge upstairs. We opted for compact open shell-scheme exhibition stands in order to accommodate 70 stands.

To maximise attendance and participation, we made full use of Queenstown’s locational advantages. We organised an activities afternoon, included in the registration fee, which offered a choice of 13 networking activities for delegates and business partners, from bungy jumping to luxury massage.

With no social function venue in Queenstown suitable for the required numbers, we had to think creatively about the 700-person Welcome Reception. Our solution was a unique ‘Come in from the Cold’ event, an informal mix-and-mingle centred around Searle Lane in the heart of the city. Guests could move freely between an eclectic mix of five private venues, each with its own distinctive atmosphere and theming. The ‘Gold’ level business partners were each given their own bar where they could host delegates and guests.

The NZPF Executive were given a key role in the hospitality and welcome provided throughout the event, highlighting the NZPF’s role as host and raising its profile with delegates.

The Outcome


We were able to deliver above and beyond expectation for both the Committee and their business partners. Our strong existing relationships with local suppliers meant we were able to save the Committee money on key services, and to introduce flexibility around payment deadlines and instalment options that helped ease cashflow issues.

We were able to draw on supporter relationships forged during the previous 2016 Trans-Tasman event to sell all available exhibitor space. The event returned a very good profit which has provided valuable seed funds for the 2018 event.

The post-Conference debrief yielded excellent feedback from the NZPF Conference Committee. Committee members highlighted the outstanding communication they experienced with our Conference Manager, Theresa Managh, and her team. They found our team responsive and available at all times, and appreciated our flexibility in working around their busy schedules and moving timelines. The Committee also commented on the quality of subcontractors we engaged, and how seamlessly they were managed.

Both the ‘Come in from the Cold’ Welcome Reception and the ‘All that Glitters’ Gala Dinner at Skyline Queenstown were warmly received by participants, as were the keynote speakers we arranged. Business partners felt well looked after, and loved the new opportunities to host delegates at the Welcome Reception and activity afternoon. The effective relationship between Convenor Jill Corkin, Conference Manager Theresa and our Sponsorship Manager Nihal Fernandez ensured we honoured exclusive business partner agreements to the letter.

We were delighted to be subsequently contracted to help deliver the 2018 (Wellington) and 2019 (Auckland) NZPF Annual Conferences, and organisation of these is now well underway.

Afterwards the Convenor, Jill Corkin, wrote to us:

“Thank you for handling the financial side so well for us, as well as superb overall conference management of the event. You are a great team to work with!”

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