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Monday, February 24, 2020

REVIEW:Jerusalem - Lemi Ponifasio/Mau (Wellington Opera House 22/23 February 2020) Commissioned by The NZ Festival Of The Arts

Creator Lemi Ponifasio told an afternoon crowd prior to the closing performance of his latest masterwork, Jerusalem, that he was "motivated by (looking) for a new way of feeling or knowing about things." He was also quick to note that the idea of a performance ina theatre was a 'European concept'.

Playing to a crowd, who payed and sat politely, was a "colonising" act, he argued. In other cultures, performance was not seperated or an act for the elite and discerning.  It was part of the fabric and make up of ritual, culture, society.

But now 'art', 'music', dance are a boxed off concepts.  Why, he asked, do we have to put things in a colonial frame to get noticed or respected?

He also challenged his audience. Much of what you will see, he thought, would only be available if you spent time in porirua, and not in the city.   "Why is it that the stories you will be watching (tonight) are about the people who can not, or will not come to a theatre like this (the Opera House) because of culture, education or money."

He asked "How do you find a way of involving people in a way that was really involving - not just paying lip service?" For him, the concept of Jerusalem is a complex utopia, where peple are not settled - but instead constantly busy, in conflict, moving, ideas are changing, fluid.

He challenged the ideas of 'democracy'.  Was democracy really in action when two parties stubbornly remain on either side of the fence, unable to meet in the middle or see the other side of the story - as in curent American elections. "Jerusalem emerges," Ponifasio writes in the show's introduction notes, "from a perplexing and tumultuous global context scarred by pervasive violence, systemic displacement, hate-crimes and the spectre of clashing assemblages of power, religion and ideology."

The Palestinian (arabic) name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds. It means ‘the Holiness’, the ‘Holy One'. It is a place where ideas, people and cultures clash. Like people. It is one of the most contested places in human history – "perpetually held hostage in the shadow of competing divine archetypes, which police and divide life on earth."

The performance opens with an entirely bare stage, dark at first, opening out to a room filled with dark blue light and dry ice.  The operal house stage looks almost daunting.  It's vast.  You immediately feel like you are looking at a wasteland in large landscape.  The bones are revealed, radiators at the back, bricks, girders, all become part of the industrial landscape.  Or perhaps an ancient wall.

A dawn haze, perhaps. There is nothing on stage except for a simple thin boxlike gazebo, a frame of thin poles that make up artifical walls to a house, prison of even a Marae.  Behind is the expose back wall of the opera house - 3 stories high, symbolising the 'Wailing Wall', or something else, perhaps. When Jerusalem begins there are layers of chanting - these are the residents in a quarantined city, shouting into the night, “Wuhan jiayou!” – “Wuhan stay strong”.  They call out to each other from the windows of their locked rooms in their "barricaded highrises". They shout cries of self-encouragement and form "a latent counterpoint to the fragments of traditional muqam folk music of the Uighurs".

The Ulghus, I learn are a Muslim ethnic minority from the Xinjiang province, many of whom have also been ‘quarantined’ for 're-education', a 'cure' for what China sees as 'the mental ilness of islam.'

This is disturbing on many levels. No more so than when you contrast is with the pakeha policies adoped up until the mid-20th Century to rid the country of Te Reo and Maori culture altogether. I found it profoundly moving that over 90% of the performance was actually in Te Reo, spoken, sun, chanted with execeptional skill and pride. The mother tongue of Aotearoa, once forbidden by the colonisers is the voice of Jerusalem.

It's ironic even more so when you think of the lyrics of William Blake's most famous and very English poem - and hymn:

And did those feet in ancient time, 
Walk upon Englands mountains green: 
And was the holy Lamb of God, On Englands pleasant pastures seen! 
And did the Countenance Divine, Shine forth upon our clouded hills? 
And was Jerusalem builded here, Among these dark Satanic Mills?

 "Visions of Jerusalem appear again and again across times and places, throughout history, from enslaved Africans in the Americas, to British nationalists and Sufragettes; from the Whanganui river community with James K Baxter, to Ngāi Tūhoe Maungapōhatu with Rua Kēnana. Jerusalem is a site composed of contradictory fragments that form shape-shifting patterns entangling the real and the imagined – a space of despair and promise"

Using Te Reo is an immediate shout in the face of white supremicists. One of which dared to challenge the evil acts of last March - and those that cowardly followed. 

Ponifasio has added an iteresting twist - with a warrior challenge, performed on an invisible meeting ground by Opera singer Kawiti Waetford, but instead of a taiha, an armalite semi-automatic is brandished.  It's a dark reminder of what has recently been, and a tribute of the aroha the country chose to show to their muslim community, in an act of solidarity.  Waetford's voice is strong, almost mesmerising.  He chants under his breath at ties, like a spell of unresolved dissonance.

Ponifasio sets out to transform traditional lament and prayer into ceremonial rites that (he says) "open a space to question the order of things, and move together towards reparation, death and regeneration."

He's done this, skillfully, braiding together Syrian poet Adonis' (Ali Ahmad Sa’id Esber) epic poem, Concerto al-Quds, with strands of Maori and Chinese Muslim language and culture.

Adonis is one of this (and last) century's most influential poets. He's as widely read as T.S.Eliot in the English speaking world. He is a perenial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature. Now in his 90's, he still speaks with a loud. resonant voice, having recently supported and challenged aspect of the uprising of the Arab Spring and other events in the region.

In 1956 he was forced to leave Syria after being involved with the Syrian Nationalist Party. He relocated to Paris after many years of unsettled living. He was named a Commander of France's Order of Arts and Letters in 1997. In 2011 he was awared the Goethe prize in Germany.

He drew controversy around Jerusalem itself when he had controversial meetings with Israelis. He was well-known for his secular stance, and use a ‘pagan’ name (i.e. Adonis) led to the expulsion from the Arabic Writers Union, various Salafi death threat Fatwas, and calls for his books to be burned.

The show is littered with imagery and metaphor. Performers move very slowly, with deliberate tiny steps and careful gestures, to emphasise every action, every detail. Women, dressed in back, resemble the wahine of an iwi, tasked with preparing a body for a tangi. One Chinese woman appears in black clothing reminescent of the Mao days.

A Kamatua (played by a very animated Tame Iti) appears several times to chant and challenge. Ironically, he is dressed in the clothes of a rich investment banker, instead of the usual treasured 70's polyester suit, favoured by our seniors.  Another nod to colonial oppression, perhaps.  Or a reclaiming?

Scenes interweave. The soundtrack is a perpetual hum, perforated by sirens, shouting, the sounds of crowd hysteria, gunfire. Stanza's from Adonis' poem crawl acrross the back wall, appearing line by line in four columns. There is one especially challenging scene towards the end of the show when a Chinese man (Ery Aryani) , perhaps one of the aforementioned Ulghus, is presented with a washbowl of a black liquid.   Is it tar?  For shame.  Is it blood? Mud?  Death?

Ery Aryani (Photo - NZ Festival of the Arts) 
He must bath in this. He smears it alover himself. A tourist with a selfie stick arives to vide him through the bars of his cage. The ugly, distorted images appear on the back wall. As the piece progresses, the filmed subject transforms into a monkey - he is the cliche' - a monkey man. Is he fullfilling the stereotype of the onlooker - that all Chinese (and Black people for that matter) are really just monkeys who should be kept in a cage for us to taunt and prod?

His death, cordoned off by yellow tape, yet another Colonial approach (treated with suspiciaon, not repect).  It ends with the lowering of a huge white sheet, which the cast spread out accross the stage - as a road to heaven, or river. It's not clear.

Perhaps this is how we get to Jerusalem?

Jerusalem is a complex performance. It's profound. it certainly lived up to Ponifasio's promise: This performance won't entertain but it will challenge you, make you think, drive you to uncomfortable places, abandon you, leave you spinning around, searching deperating for a signal. It certainly did that.

Review by CoffeeBar Kid

Lemi Ponifasio is one of three curators at this year's Festival of the Arts.  He is also founder of MAU, which began in 1995 working with diverse cultures and communities around the world. His collaborators are performing in factories, remote villages, opera houses, schools,marae, castles, galleries and stadiums.

 Mau is the Samoan word meaning the declaration of the truth. Lemi Ponifasio is acclaimed internationally for his radical work as a choreographer, stage director and designer, and for his collaborations with many communities.

 The projects have included fully staged operas, theatre, dance, exhibitions, community forums and festivals in more than 30 countries. He has presented his creations with MAU in many places including Festival d’Avignon, Lincoln Center New York, BAM New York, Ruhrtriennale, LIFT Festival London, Edinburgh International Festival, Theater der Welt, Festival de Marseille, Theatre de la Ville Paris, Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, Holland Festival, Luminato Festival Toronto, Vienna Festival, Santiago a Mil Chile, the Venice Biennale and in the Pacific region.

 His recent works include Love To Death (2020) with MAU Mapuche, Santiago Chile; KANAKA (2019) with Theatre Du Kanaky, New Caledonia; Mausina with MAU Wahine for 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand (2018) and Standing In Time (2017) with MAU Wahine; Die Gabe Der Kinder (2017) with children and community of Hamburg; Ceremony of Memories (2016 and 2017) with MAU Mapuche of Chile; Recompose (2016) with MAU Wahine and Syrian women for Festival Herrenhausen, Hanover; Lagimoana Installation (2015) for the Venice Biennale 56th Visual Arts Exhibition; Apocalypsis, Toronto (2015); I AM: Mapuche, Chile (2015) and I AM for the 100th Anniversary of WW1 (2014), which premiered at Festival d’Avignon.
Other major international performance tours by Lemi Ponifasio and MAU include The Crimson House (2014), Stones In Her Mouth (2013), the opera Prometheus by Carl Orff (2012), Le Savali: Berlin (2011), Birds With Skymirrors (2010), Tempest: Without A Body (2008), Requiem (2006) and Paradise (2005).
- Bio supplied by NZFestival of the Arts

Thursday, February 20, 2020

THIS JUST IN: Unity Books shortlisted for International Bookstore of the year

Beloved Unity Books in Auckland's High Street has made it to the shortlist of three to be in the running for International Bookstore of the Year 2020. The shop's been running since 1989 and is the only surviving independent bookstore in Auckland's CBD.

Owner operator, Jo McColl said it was a real honour and fantastic to be acknowledged especially at a time when digital media is so demanding of our attention. 

The LBF International Excellence Awards 

A record 29 countries have been shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards 2020.
The awards, held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association, celebrate publishing success in 16 categories, representing the best publishing ambassadors, innovative publishing, and ground-breaking initiatives in the industry. In each award category, the judging panel was comprised of experts in that sector.
Colombia, Croatia, Mozambique, Uganda and Yemen have been shortlisted for the first time, with the US, India, Egypt, Canada, Germany and New Zealand all receiving multiple nominations.
Yemen Bookstore, Estonia's Rahava Raamat AS and 2019 shortlistee Unity Books in New Zealand, are in the running for Bookstore of the Year, sponsored by Gardners.
Rights Professional of the Year, sponsored by Sharjah Book Authority, sees Tuomas Sorjamaa from agency Finnish Ferly go up against Stephanie Barrouillet from SB Rights Agency in Israel and Mexico's Gabriel Nieto from Planeta while festivals across the world are nominated for Literary Festival of the Year, with Frankfurt liest ein Buch, Croatia's Festival of World Literature and Indonesia's Macassar International Writers’ Festival (Indonesia), all in the running.
Indian company Karadi Path Education Company has received nominations in two categories – The Education Initiatives Award and The Education Learning Resources Award – while Karadi Tales (also shortlisted in 2019) is in the running for Audiobook Publisher of the Year Award.
The winners of several other awards will also be presented on the night including the Simon Master’s Chairman Award and the Association for Publishing Education (APE) Student Awards. The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented at the ceremony.
Read more at:

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

REVIEW: To the Moon - Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang - Dowse Art Museum

It's just over 50 years after Apollo 11 landed on the moon yet space travel is still the final frontier.  We've built computers the size of a human hand with more computing power than the technology used tat the time.  We've developed rockets and aeronautical wonders that can reach far into the solar system.  We have space stations and Virgin Shuttle trips and all manner of satellites.  But the idea of just going - just jumping in a vehicle and taking off - isn't quite there yet.  Space remains the ‘outer’ world.

It remains to be seen if you and I will ever get there, should we even wish to go.

But, what if you could, you know, just go?  That’s the question NASA's one and only artist in residence, Laurie Anderson, put to us all during her time there.  Her work, To The Moon, is an expanded virtual reality piece created with artist Hsin-Chien Huang allows you the freedom to hover, fly, and soar across the surface of the moon, dive into craters and negotiate strange creatures made of scientific formulas. 

Welcome to the dark side of the moon.  Go there - if you dare.

The twenty five minute VR half-hour experience begins through sliding doors, decorated with a huge image of the moon.  You pass images from the VRsimulation projected on the wall, in a sort of waiting room.  A place where you can prepare whilst other patrons finish up their journeys.  You take your seat, one of four stools.  A kindly assistant puts on a VR helmet with headphones and two gun-handled controllers, which he explains, will allow you to fly around the virtual space when a ring on your virtual hands lights up.

We begin gently, in a dimly-lit space, surrounded by planets, flying atoms, meteorites and so on.  Look down and you feel like we're lifting into the ceiling.  Look around to see empty chairs, where the other patrons should be.  There's a sort of feeling of loneliness, that you're the only one here.  Isolated in the coldest, most desolate place.

The headset gives you full 360-degree view - up down, behind.  Even with feet firmly on the ground, it’s almost impossible to remain when the walls of the room disolve and the floor propels you into space.  And just as you become comfortable exploring one world, you’re thrust into another - moon craters,  mountain peaks, dinosaurs created from fractal equations.

I was warned that the experience could illicit some strong emotional, physiological responses, vertigo or nausea.  While at times I was both exhilarated and a little alarmed, I was never really terrified, as others have reported.

My 11 year old daughter came along for the ride.  Her experience was more of wonder and she found some of the 'scenery' quite perplexing.  There is one scene for example, where a barage of strange box-like asteroids fly at you.  You try to brush them away but your hands have morphed into oddly spider like tenticles.  She was a bit concerned that her whole body had transmorphed into a huge moon-spider.  That was until she looked to her right and saw the luna shadow of herself riding a donkey, like Don Qixote towards a huge crater.  I laughed out loud at this moment, perhaps a little too loudly.

This is one of many dream-like scenes.  i don't want to completely spoil the experience but it would be sufficient to say that it is a magical, disorientating, bizare and sometimes perplexing experience.  But also one of wonder.  Anderson finishes the work with a statement, delivered in her trademark vocal style - that we have mastered many things but not the stars.  The images that appear and then dissolve are all in our imagination, because that's all we have - for now.

For followers of Laurie Anderson, this work is totally expected.  It's almost too tame.  Maybe not 'avant garde' enough.  But like all her music/art projects, she strikes a happy medium between excess and access.  I think she does it perfectly here. 

The $10 ticket price was perfect.  Not too expensive to make it an elitist experience, which often happens at Arts Festivals.  Locating the work at the Dowse Art Museum in the Hutt makes it all the more accessible to families and even the elderly - widening the potential audience.  Punching well above its weight, the Dowse has been quietly peddling wide-appeal accessible art to the residents of this cultural wasteland for many years.  And they are doing a brilliant job of it.  The lack of suitable spaces in the city was a blessing in disguise for the Hutt.  Here's hoping the trend remains for future events, too.

Festivals offer us the oppotunity to stretch ourselves, as an audience, as art lovers and as novices.  Even the artistically agnostic can occasionally step into a gallery, if there's the right incentive.  It remains to be seen if Anderson's immersive art work will really achieve this but if anything can, this will be it.

I'm also looking forward to Anderson's other collaborative works at the Festival - Here Comes The Ocean, Drones, and Concert For Dogs.  All different.  All interactive, all challenging and immersive.  And, I hope, just as exhillerating.

Review by The CoffeeBar Kid

Friday, February 14, 2020

2020 CubaDupa to Take the Airwaves with CubaSonic!

The Wellington Festival is Planning a Mass Musical Disruption Across Cuba Street!

For the 2020 CubaDupa, the capital’s free celebration takes things to the next level with its most ambitious project yet —a mass musical performance called CubaSonic.

Imagine almost 500 musicians lined from one end of Cuba Street to the other. Add to them a
dozen conductors and an overhead array of speakers that will direct surround sound across
the site. Throw in a locally-invented Tesla coil that can be played like a keyboard and shoots
lightning into its surrounding. Add major support from Creative New Zealand, Victoria
University of Wellington, and local arts supporters. Finally, add a bespoke score written for
this CubaDupa mass performance zone by leading New Zealand composer John Psathas (whom wrote 'No Man's Land'for WOMAD and the NZ Festival in 2016),
and that begins to describe the CubaSonic experience.

“The inspiration for this mass musical disruption came a few years ago when John Psathas was exploring the festival environments, contemplating the possibility of connecting the neighbourhood celebration with one big beautiful music performance,” says CubaDupa Director Gerry Paul. “He wondered what it would be like to unify the crowd with a creative performance and give the audience an experience that spanned the entire festival—and the
idea for CubaSonic was born.”

The immense scale of this event, and Psathas’s unprecedented vision, will become reality thanks to some of Aotearoa’s leading music institutions, including Orchestra Wellington, New Zealand ymphony Orchestra, Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, The Nudge, Boat, synthesizer genius Leo Coghini, and 250 Batucada drummers from across the country.

In development since 2015, CubaSonic will be performed once each day during the 28
and 29 March 2002 festival.

The project involves the formation of a new kind of mass mass music-making ensemble, over 60 speakers and overhead soundtrack spread across multiple city blocks, and a range of new technical challenges and production costs. The ongoing development has been funded by Creative New Zealand and the festival’s partnership with Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

“CubaDupa is one of Wellington’s primary lightning rods, generating and releasing a massive, positive energy charge into the city every year,” says Psathas. “Festivals offer unique opportunities for ambitious ideas. At their best they give us experiences we never forget, experiences that exceed our expectations both in the witnessing of art and in the moments of massed connection that sneak up and take us by surprise. Cubasonic, played throughout the heart of Cuba Street, will be vast, epic, and monumental.”

The mass sonic spectacle is a unique combination of contemporary music and technology, and part of the festival’s plans to present beautiful disruptions throughout the weekend.

Beyond the mass live ensemble, and the haunting electronic score, a technological centrepiece of CubaSonic is a musical Tesla coil known as Chime Red.

The polyphonic high-energy synthesiser was invented by Josh Bailey in the Hutt Valley, and literally makes music with arcs of lightning. The combined musical sources—live performers, custom composed soundtrack, and Chime Red—will all be amplified in real time through a special audio system that has also been developed locally. The combined ten-minute music work will move sound up and down Cuba Street, immersing 50,000 people in a sonic experience.

“As an engineer, I build Tesla coils, but it is my love of music and artistic collaboration that has taken my work into new places that combine science and art,” says Baily. “The joy for me is when a professional musician takes it to the next level. I am beyond thrilled that John Psathas has incorporated Chime Red into the CubaSonic project, and has composed this work for hundreds of people to perform, and thousands to enjoy.” 

CubaSonic is the centrepiece of a revived CubaDupa, and a bold statement about our return to the streets. It represents yet another Wellington-based collaboration that pushes boundaries, grows the creative community in new ways, and offers festival-goers a new sense of awe and wonder.

In 2019 CubaDupa was moved indoors as a response to the heightened security concerns immediately following the Christchurch terrorism. This year, the festival returns to the outdoor format with twelve stages across its Cuba Street precinct, 30 parade groups, special creative zones, a new circus arts and cabaret venue, and over a hundred food vendors.

“CubaSonic is a highly ambitious undertaking,” explains Psathas. “It is extremely brave and Visionary of CubaDupa to commit to presenting this complex, immersive, mass musical project. It’s ground-breaking, and I’m super excited to feel it all coming together.”

Catch all the artists like Troy Kingi and Wax Chattels here:

Coming To WOMAD - The Hot Potato Band

The CoffeeBar Kid talks with Simon Gahli, from Melbourne's amazing off grid party crew, The Hot Potato Band, who will be funking up the WOMAD stage this March.

This energetic brass band bursts onto the stage with a punchy blend of catchy music, infectious dance moves, and the ability to give cheering crowds a damn good time. Hot Potato Band began as roving street performers and have since compiled an arsenal of songs inspired by pop, funk, ska and reggae.

Be sure to catch their set at WOMAD.  For now, check out their video

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Just announced! 

Closing the Gables Stage on Saturday night is Auckland-based beatmaker DJ MONTELL 2099, one of the most exciting new electronic music talents to emerge from New Zealand in recent years. In an era where musicians often lean on gimmicks to market their work, MONTELL2099 is connecting with his audiences on the strength of his music alone, and he's only just getting started.

Mixing bubbling melodies, manipulated vocal snippets and booming bass hits, his idiosyncratic productions ripple and thud with club-ready swing and funk.

With a taste for genre-bending releases, MONTELL2099’s mantra is simple–surprise his listener on every corner!

 Stacey Morrison is looking forward to taking the stage as the host of OMV Taste The World at WOMAD NZ, 2020.

 Excited to be part of this delectable festival highlight Stacey can't wait to share her love of kai with international artists, and festival audiences, after hosting five seasons of her lifestyle and cooking show Whānau Living.

"I can't wait to see artists from around the world step off the stage and into the kitchen. No doubt their joy at sharing delicious, fresh and unique recipes from their homelands will be contagious and leave WOMAD audiences hugely inspired. OMV Taste the world is such a colourful setting, and I'm excited to help the artists feel welcome in Aotearoa"



Head to the transformed Pinetum, into a haven that evokes curiosity, where innovative minds that have solved real-world problems are celebrated. Visionaries will share their incredible groundbreaking journeys of discovery and leave you wanting to know more!

Dr Nicoline den Breems

Dr Nicoline Breems research interests lie in the interdisciplinary field of Systems Biology, Mathematical Biology and Bioinformatics with a special interest in modelling host immune interactions. She is interested in optimising parameters, and the use of ordinary differential equations, data-driven analytical and numerical analyses to simulate and investigate the complexity in biological systems. Her current research involves developing project complex system models to simulate cell signalling, e.g. cancer-immune interactions and gene network regulation, in biological systems.

Shayne Gooch 

Shayne Gooch is the Dean of Engineering (Academic) at the University of Canterbury. Shayne has been working with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery via the Len Lye Foundation on the design of Len Lye sculptures since 1996. His first project was to commission and build Big Blade (2001) as part of a PhD study in mechanical engineering.

Dr. Simon P Taylor

Dr Simon Taylor was awarded the Kudos Science Educator award in 2014 in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards encouraging an understanding and appreciation of science to youth and the wider community. Simon has publicly lectured in astrophysics, nuclear fusion, cosmo- chemistry, the beauty of physics and music, the physics of surfing and learning futures. Currently, Simon lectures at Waikato University.

Suranga Nanayakkara 

Suranga Nanayakkara is among that rare breed of engineers that has a sense of “humanity” in technology. In 2011, he founded the "Augmented Human Lab" to explore ways of creating ‘enabling’ human-computer interfaces as natural extensions of our body, mind and behaviour.

His emphasis on “enabling” rather than “fixing,” has technologies that Suranga has developed have a potentially much broader range of applications.

His work is most important to the people whose lives it most directly impacts those who face challenged to function in the world due to sensory deficits in hearing or vision. Suranga is an Associate Professor at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the University of Auckland (UoA).

For the full programme, head to

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sasha Gibbs talks about the upcoming Te Ata Programme

“Arts festivals can stimulate a nation’s culture. Just as agriculture celebrates the planting and harvest, arts festivals enact the planting of new ideas and traditions, which, if tended, will grow into the cultures of the future.” 

The CoffeeBar Kid talks to Sasha Gibb - Principal Arts Producer of Te Ata. 

This is a festival within the Festival, brings together artists from Aotearoa and around the world in exchange with young New Zealanders who wish to take a bold, brave and active role in shaping the culture of the place where they live. Two weeks of ground-breaking creative development will culminate in a week of public performances and events hosted by Porirua City, which has one of the youngest populations in New Zealand.

Created with the community of Porirua and artists who include South African protest musician Neo Muyanga, US Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, Der Faust prize-winner for dance Aloalii Tapu, 2019 New Zealand Arts Laureate Coco Solid aka Jessica Hansell, Grammy Award-winning opera singer Jonathan Lemalu, baritone Kawiti Waetford and the New Zealand Sinfonia for Hope Orchestra. Download a copy of the full Te Ata programme here. Development Programmes Te Ata includes programmes for a variety of skills training, exploration and creative development. Check them out and make sure to get your registrations in as spaces are limited

 Click here for more information including registrations for workshops or to volunteer for any of the Te Ata programme

You can also check out the highlights here:

 Click to the Festival

Monday, February 10, 2020

COMING TO WOMAD 2020: Laura Marling

Over the course of six superb albums, each building on but never repeating what came before it, Laura Marling has become a darling of earthy, modern songwriting. Her songs, often pondering loss, identity and self-reflection, immediately draw you in, and her gorgeous voice and delicate guitar work never fail to captivate. For her WOMAD NZ debut, Marling plays a solo, stripped back set.

Laura Beatrice Marling is a British folk singer-songwriter. She won the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2011 Brit Awards, and was nominated for the same award at the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 Brit Awards. Born in Berkshire in southeast England, Marling joined her older sisters in London at 16, to pursue a career in music. She played with a number of groups, and released her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim in 2008. Her first album, her second album I Speak Because I Can, and her fourth album Once I Was an Eagle were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2008, 2010, and 2013, respectively. Her sixth record, Semper Femina, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Folk Album category.

Check out all the artists at

Sunday, February 02, 2020

INTERVIEW: Amit Noy, Dancer (Mám - '90 minutes of ritualised ecstasy') International Festival Of The Arts

One of the most exciting dance projects coming to this year’s International Festival of the Arts is MÁM, Directed and choreographed by Michael Keegan-Dolan and brought to you by his dance company Teaċ Daṁsa.

Michael Keegan-Dolan
This has been described as “90 minutes of ritualized ecstasy” by The Irish Times).  “Alternately playful and provocative, funny and frightening, MÁM is a stirring, sensuous showcase of the emotional power of the physical form.”

Michael has a strong connection with this Festival, starting in 2008, with his productions of Giselle, Rian (2014)
and Swan Lake / Loch na hEala (2018). In 2019 he got closer, with a six-week residency, Made in Wellington, where Michael and his artistic collaborators began the creation of MÁM.

His latest production, MÁM  brings together virtuoso Irish traditional concertina player Cormac Begley, the European classical, contemporary collective, stargaze and 12 international dancers from the Teaċ Daṁsa company, including my guest dancer Amit Noy.  Amit studied in Wellington at toi Whakaari and has just graduated.  Late last year I caught him the day before he was about to jump on a plane over to Europe to join rehearsals with Teaċ Daṁsa as part of the cast of MÁM coming to the International Festival of the Arts this month.  Listen to the interview below -

Image: International Festival of the Arts:
See MÁM Thursday 5 - Sunday 8 March 2020 TSB Arena

INTERVIEW : Shades of Shakti (NZ International Festival of the Arts)

Tristan Carter (violin), Chetan Ramlu (tabla), Justin Firefly Clarke (guitar)
- and sārangī maestro Sangeet Mishra (via Skype)
Coming to the  International Festival this year is the music project 'Shades of Shakti' which combines intricate fast melodies, virtuosic rhythms of the tabla and percussion, and the hypnotic tones of the sārangī, a highly resonant, ancient bowed instrument of India.

 Shakti were a fusion band formed by English guitarist John McLaughlin, Indian violin player L. Shankar, percussionists Zakir Hussain (on tabla) and T. H. "Vikku" Vinayakram (on Ghatam) in 1974. The band played acoustic fusion music which combined Indian music with elements of jazz.
They came together after the dissolution of the first incarnation of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and toured fairly extensively during the period 1975-1977; it made only sporadic appearances (with personnel changes) thereafter.

'Shades of Shakti' will bring together some of Wellington’s finest musicians, Justin Firefly Clarke (guitar), Tristan Carter (violin), Chetan Ramlu (tabla), Thomas Friggens (percussion), joined by special guest sārangī maestro Sangeet Mishra direct from India’s holiest city, Varanasi.

The show is a rich collaboration bringing communities together and celebrating human diversity through music.

Just before Xmas the Tim Gruar akaCoffeebar Kid went along to the Sai Bab Centre in Newtown and to sit in on one of the group’s rehearsals and talk to the group, one of which, Sangeet, was dialing in over skype especially for this interview from Mumbai.  Tim says "That the experience was so gratifying.  The vibe in the room was so peaceful and generous.  They also played some music for me and I was honored to be able to record a short segment of it as a taster to what their show will be like.  I'm really looking forward to seeing this one."

Shades of Shakti - 13 March 2020 - 9.30PM at Shed 6 

 NZ International Festival Of The Arts

Saturday, February 01, 2020

WOMAD 2020 - Full Stage is now out!

13-15 March, 2020   
Brooklands Park and the TSB Bowl of Brooklands, Ngāmotu (New Plymouth)

Three days 
– over 80 LIVE performances - five stages!

Come and lose yourself in the sights, sounds, and tastes that blend together to make up the vibrant WOMAD experience!
The full WOMAD 2020 stage schedule including World Of Words, Taste the World, Kidzone, Te Paepae workshops, STEAM Lab and the on-site performance programme is now available at

See your festival favourites perform twice or schedule your weekend around the exclusive one-off performances across the four main music stages. Experience and explore Māori culture and artistry at the welcoming Te Paepae stage. Learn how to cook with your favourite artists at OMV Taste The World Stage. Visit the Kunming stage, home to World Of Words hosting a mixture of speakers, interviews, book sessions, poetry slams and comedy. Hear from inventors, innovators and visionaries at the top of their fields who are pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo at STEAM Lab WOMAD's newest stage. There is something for everyone at WOMAD New Zealand! 

Kia ora! 'ahlaan bik! Bienvenue! Welkom! Herzlich willkommen! Bienvenida! Welcome! kalos IRTHATE! 

Three Days of Festival Epicness!


Time to start planning as the WOMAD 2020 Stage schedule is here!
Three days packed of music, dance, food and more!


Start building your itinerary with the artists you're most excited to see, and the experiences you can't wait to have.


Check out who is performing each day on which stage, and don't forget to add in stops between performances! 

Get your groove on at an artist workshop, check out a spot of poetry slam and on your way head over to the traders in the Global Village.

Get Your Early Bird Tickets!

There are still a few days left to purchase your Early Bird Festival and Festival + Camping Combo Tickets.

Tell your friends and whānau and get your festival squad organised, Early Bird tickets end on 2 February 2020.
Turning up the tunes of the WORLD this March!
Download the WOMAD App!

The best way to build your itinerary is here!

Download the WOMAD app to your Android or iOS device and start locking in your must-sees of the festival.

Add everything you want to your itinerary so you can sit back and enjoy all the festival offerings when the time comes!


Our newest stage is where Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) unite. Hear from inventors, innovators and visionaries at the top of their fields who are pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.      

The transformed Pinetum will become a haven inviting you to step into a place of wonder, evoking curiosity where innovative minds will share their incredible ground-breaking journeys of discovery and global problem-solving. 

If you thought Math and Science were boring, come delve into the STEAM Lab and think again!
More speakers to be announced....

Suranga Nanayakkara

Suranga Nanayakkara is among that rare breed of engineers that has a sense of “humanity” in technology. In 2011, he founded the "Augmented Human Lab" to explore ways of creating ‘enabling’ human-computer interfaces as natural extensions of our body, mind and behaviour. 

His emphasis on “enabling” rather than “fixing,” has technologies that Suranga has developed have a potentially much... READ MORE >

Dr Simon P Taylor

Dr Simon Taylor was awarded the Kudos Science Educator award in 2014 in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards encouraging an understanding and appreciation of science to youth and the wider community.

Simon has publicly lectured in astrophysics, nuclear fusion, cosmo-chemistry, the beauty of physics and music, the physics of surfing and learning... READ MORE >

Nicoline Y den Breems

Nicoline den Breems’ research interests lie in the intersection of Mathematics, Computation and Molecular biology. Using data science and data-driven numerical analyses, she develops mathematical models to simulate and investigate complex biological systems.  

Her current research involves developing computational models based on... READ MORE >

All The Ways To Camp at WOMAD

WOMAD gives you so much choice when it comes to camping, from budget and family-friendly to the ultra-luxurious or ultimate eco-friendly camping.

The bustling atmosphere of WOMAD's campsite is a festival highlight for many and with additional activities like morning yoga and tai chi, before the music kicks off, you are surrounded by a community of like-minded festival fans!

Find out more about Camping at WOMAD NZ HERE!