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The Cuba Street Project

Press Release: The Cuba Street Project.

Fringe Festival Visual Arts Programme 15th February to 9th March 2013

The Cuba St Project is a Trans media project. Stories of Cuba St Wellington will be told across multiple platforms in the street and on the internet.

Heritage is more than just bricks and mortar; it is also about the people who make up the community. A new history of Cuba St is unfolding; change is a constant, so how can it be made with respect to the past?

Central to the project is a moving collection of still images curated to tell the story of Cuba Street, its people and the physical and social changes over the years. It will be a celebration of the street, its people and buildings throughout its 17 decade history.

The work will focus on the heritage buildings and the street’s colourful characters, the residents, shop keepers, landlords and workers who have frequented the street since its establishment 172 years ago. It will highlight the different types of businesses, fashion styles and modes of transport they used along with the way they worked and socialised.

The photographs will be curated into a movie which will be played on TV screens in shop windows and on the internet. There will also be A2 display panels located in shop windows from Cuba Mall to the top of the street. Some participating businesses will be creating displays around specific stories of the street. All venues will clearly direct viewers/passer-by’s to the webpage where more in-depth stories can be found.

The purpose of this project is to engage with the people of Wellington and stimulate a conversation about Cuba St, its past and its contribution to our city’s personality and its possible future. I would like people to respond and contribute to the project and the conversation by visiting the web site and commenting via the blog pages.


The inspiration for this project has developed over the past year. The catastrophic destruction of Christchurch’s CBD and its architectural heritage following the earthquakes was the initial catalyst. I wondered how a similar event might affect Wellington and, in particular, Cuba Street which has approximately 44 earthquake prone buildings.

I decided to start writing a blog and taking photographs of the buildings, people and activities in the street. I began researching the streets history and the more I studied the more I became aware that historically Te Aro, compared with the more respectable Thorndon end of town, has always been colourful, working class and bohemian and, as such, has nurtured the development of the city’s creative precinct.

For more information please contact Fiona Gunter-Firth phone 021 451 977

During the Fringe Fiona will host a walk and talk guiding people up the street and talking through the instillations. Meeting at the bottom of Cuba Mall opposite James Smiths Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 12.30pm and 5.30pm.


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