Central Energy Trust Arena is the current name of the 180,000 square metre publicly owned recreational complex just west of the Palmerston North city centre in the Manawatū-Whanganui region of New Zealand.
Central Energy Trust Arena has a deserved reputation as being both the busiest and most versatile events and activities complex in New Zealand. Handling around 8000 individual event/venue bookings annually, it has an unparalleled 36 different sporting codes being conducted here regularly along with trade shows, exhibitions, weddings, dinners, conferences, conventions, meetings, seminars, festivals, concerts and leisure events.
Central Energy Trust Arena is the primary sporting and events complex in the lower North Island. It is prominent throughout New Zealand as the foremost multi use leisure and events facility.
Right in the heart of Palmerston North city, just seven minutes walking distance from the CBD, Central Energy Trust Arena is a favourite choice for events with a significant visitor component. The park like environment boasts 33 individual indoor and outdoor venues within the 18 hectare site.
FMG insurance chose not to renew the sponsorship deal for main Stadium name in June 2015.
Arena 1: Central Energy Trust Arena
Central Energy Trust Arena has a capacity of 15,000. Temporary seating is added for major events allowing the capacity to reach 20,000.
Central Energy Trust Arena is home to Manawatu Rugby. Generally one club game will be played on the ground per week, whilst it is the Manawatu Turbos' home ground. Since Manawatu Turbos has been included in the Air New Zealand Cup, crowd attendances have been among the highest in the competition, averaging 7,000 per game.
Central Energy Trust Arena formerly known as Arena 1 and FMG Stadium was the venue for the first ever Super 12 rugby match in 1996, which was played by the Wellington Hurricanes and the Auckland Blues.
On 28 March 2009, The Highlanders played a Super Rugby 'home' game at Central Energy Trust Arena against the Bulls. The game attracted a large crowd of over 10,000; one of the Highlanders' biggest of the 2009 season.
On 4 September 2011, The Manawatu Turbos hosted the Hawkes Bay Magpies in the ITM Championship Cup Final at Central Energy Trust Arena. Crowd attendance was 13,100.
The stadium hosted two pool games in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, in which New Zealand is the host nation. With the city's central location, large student population, the stadium's close proximity to the CBD, International Pacific College, as well as the New Zealand Rugby Institute (a facility in which the All Blacks used to use), the idea of basing a team and having a pool game in Palmerston North was attractive.
The stadium hosted New Zealand Kiwis' victory in their first rugby league test of the 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand. In front of 11,548 fans, the Kiwis defeated Great Britain 15-14 after a late Daryl Halligan field goal.
Palmerston North also hosted the second game of the 1993 Trans-Tasman series against Australia, played on a water-logged ground after constant rain. Despite the arctic like conditions, an overflow crowd of 19,000 hardy fans saw the Mal Meninga led Aussies run out 16-8 winners.
Overall, the stadium hosted six test matches between 1990 and 1996. Its last test to date saw New Zealand defeat Great Britain 18–15 on 25 October 1996 in front of 12,000 fans.
Rugby League Test Matches
List of Test matches played at Palmerston North.
|1||24 June 1990||Great Britain def. New Zealand 11-10||8,073||1990 New Zealand vs Great Britain series|
|2||12 July 1992||New Zealand def. Great Britain 15-14||11,548||1992 New Zealand vs Great Britain series|
|3||25 June 1993||Australia def. New Zealand 16-8||19,500||1993 Trans-Tasman Test series|
|4||16 June 1995||New Zealand drew with France 16-16||10,846||New Zealand vs France series|
|5||11 October 1996||New Zealand def. Papua New Guinea 64-0||2,000||1996 New Zealand vs Papua New Guinea series|
|6||25 October 1996||New Zealand def. Great Britain 18-15||12,000||1996 New Zealand vs Great Britain series|
Other users of the stadium include the Robertson Holden International Speedway, with the 434 metres (475 yards) speedway track encircling the field. The national Teams Championships have been held there, early February bringing racers from all over the country. The season starts mid-October and finishes by the start of May.
Central Energy Trust Arena was twice host of Te Matatini nationwide Kapa haka competition.
Redeveloped in 2004, Arena 2 is a multipurpose indoor sporting facility, capable of holding exhibitions, conventions and entertainment events. It has been the host of the Central Pulse home matches in Palmerston North and International netball fixtures between New Zealand and Australia; international motor shows; conferences and houses the home court to the Manawatu Jets who play in the New Zealand National Basketball League. The arena has also played host to international basketball, hosting the New Zealand Tall Blacks on occasions including the FIBA Oceania Championship. For sponsorship reasons, the arena is known as the Fly Palmy Arena.
Arena 3 has a floor area of 2100 sq m and is an indoor sports centre. It has a capacity of 2000 persons.
Multipurpose indoor stadium.
Includes Bell Hall, Barber Hall, Waldegrave Lounge and gym.
Outdoor. No. 2, 3 & 4 sports grounds.
The Palmerston North Showgrounds have had a long military association, which saw it recognised as a Place of Remembrance by the Palmerston North City Council and the New Zealand Poppy Places Trust in 2019.
From the early 1900s the Palmerston North Showgrounds was the venue for various Military Tournaments, with Boxing Day Military displays popular with the local community. Examples of Military Tournaments held at the Palmerston North Showgrounds were;
- 2 February 1901, the Imperial Representative Corps paraded in the Square with the Manawatu Mounted Rifles and the Palmerston North Rifles. The parade concluded at the Showgrounds with military displays.
- 9 November 1908, The Wellington Engineer Volunteers participated in a Military Tournament at the show grounds where they engaged in an improvised bridge-building display.
- 3 January 1911, a large Naval and Military Tournament took place at the Palmerston North Showgrounds with crowds numbering 7000 to 8000.
During the 1st World War the showgrounds were used as a remount depot for the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and as a stop-over location for men passing through Palmerston North as they transited to other various military camps around New Zealand.
On 19 July 1919, the showgrounds were the venue for Palmerston Norths celebrations marking the end of World War One. After a parade around the Square followed by speeches watched by a crowd of about 7000 including 800 children from all the local schools.
During the Second World War the Showgrounds were requisitioned for military use for the duration of the war by the New Zealand Army, and was by the following units;
- The 28th (Māori) Battalion was formed at the Showgrounds on 25 January 1940, and after initial training for three months en-trained at the Palmerston North Railway Station on 2 May 1940 for overseas service,
- the Manawatu Mounted Rifles,
- Headquarters 2 Brigade,
- Headquarters 4 Division,
- No 2 Company, New Zealand Army Service Corps, and
- No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot, New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps from 1942 to 1945.
On 31 December 1944 a large fire occurred in the building occupied by Ordnance Depot destroying Halls 1, 2 and 3 and causing stock losses of £225,700 ($18,639,824.86 at 2018 value), including around 1500 Charlton Automatic Rifles, a successful New Zealand conversion of obsolete Lee–Metford and Lee–Enfield rifles into an automatic rifle.
- "Manawatu stadium deal struck". Stuff. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- "Venues - Arena". Palmerston North City Council. 6 May 2014. Archived from the original on 11 May 2014.
- Palmerston North Showgrounds @ Rugby League Project
- "Fly Palmy Arena (Arena 2)". venuespn.co.nz. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
- "About Poppy Places". poppyplaces.nz. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- McKie, Robert. "No 2 Sub-Depot Palmerston North Showgrounds". To the Warrior his Arms: The History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps and its Predecessors. Retrieved 23 March 2019.