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Kiwis Take Flight at Edinburgh Festivals


Kiwis Take Flight at Edinburgh Festivals

More than 200 New Zealand artists will take part in the world’s most acclaimed arts festivals in Edinburgh this August.

This is the first time such a large group of leading New Zealand actors, dancers, musicians, writers, spoken word and visual artists has been invited to the celebrated Edinburgh Festivals, which each year attract an estimated 25,000 artists, 1000 international producers and an audience of four million.

The NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season will feature New Zealand artists at seven of the Edinburgh Festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival, regarded as the world’s leading arts festival; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival; the renowned Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; the Edinburgh Art Festival; the Edinburgh International Book Festival; the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

Included in the season are choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU; Auckland Theatre Company; composer Gareth Farr; Pasifika theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew; pianist Michael Houstoun; Te Matatini’s national kapa haka champions; dance company Black Grace; author Witi Ihimaera and many more.

The NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season is supported by Creative New Zealand to showcase New Zealand arts and culture on the world stage, to engage with international arts practitioners and to develop new audiences, buyers and networks.

Creative New Zealand is assisting companies and artists with flights, freight and a contribution towards landed costs. The programme is supported by the New Zealand Government through Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme and the British Council.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our talented New Zealand artists to show their work on such a high-profile world stage. It is a tribute to their talents and the quality of their work that the NZ at Edinburgh artists were invited to attend by the Edinburgh Festivals,” says Chairman of the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, Dr Dick Grant.

“The timing is ideal as the New Zealand season coincides with the Commonwealth Games being staged in Glasgow this year. This means our elite and emerging artists and our elite and emerging athletes will be the centre of attention at the same period of time in Scotland. It will be a real plus for New Zealand,” he says.

Composer Gareth Farr, choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and MAU, and pianist Michael Houstoun have been invited to take part in the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival.

Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, Sir Jonathan Mills, says: “Two important landmarks in 2014 that we share internationally are those of the centenary commemoration of the First World War and the Commonwealth nations gathering in Scotland for the Games. These provide inspiration points for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and make these distinct and important contributions of the New Zealand artists central to the Festival.”

“I am delighted that with the support of Creative New Zealand we will be once again be showcasing the work of Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU, and presenting the Festival debuts of pianist Michael Houstoun and composers Douglas Lilburn and Gareth Farr, whose new work we will premiere this August. We also welcome a new generation of New Zealand’s musical talent in members of the Commonwealth Strings ensemble, brought together from across the Commonwealth especially for this year’s Festival.”

Eight companies will take part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, appearing mainly at Assembly Festival and Summerhall venues, including Kila Kokonut Krew, Auckland Theatre Company and Black Grace.

Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Kath Mainland, says: “We're thrilled that Creative New Zealand is investing in this wonderful project to bring some of New Zealand's most exciting creative talent to Edinburgh this summer. As the world's largest arts festival, and one of the most significant international arts markets, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the perfect place to show off New Zealand's cultural wares to the world.’’

Leading Te Matatini kapa haka groups, Te Waka Huia and Te Whānau ā Apanui and the New Zealand Highland Dancers will perform as part of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Producer and Chief Executive, Brigadier David Allfrey, says: “We are delighted at the prospect of two such notable acts from New Zealand in our 65th season: a celebration of Our Home, Friends and Family. They will be performing separately and together to showcase the richness of New Zealand’s culture and heritage.

“Our connections with New Zealand are legion and we have a tremendous record of collaboration, on more than 30 occasions over the years. The unique combination of the highland dancers and award winning kapa haka will thrill our live audiences - 8,800 each evening, 220,000 in all - and come across very strongly to our substantial international television audience.”

Five New Zealand visual artists: Kushana Bush; Steve Carr; Gavin Hipkins; Shannon Te Ao and Yvonne Todd will take part in an international exhibition for the Edinburgh Art Festival, supported by the British Council and curated by Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s Aaron Kreisler. This festival fills the city’s leading art galleries, museums and artist-run spaces during August.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Aaron Kreisler, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Creative New Zealand to bring some of New Zealand's most talented contemporary artists to Edinburgh; the majority of whom will be presenting their work in the UK for the very first time,” says Sorcha Carey, Director of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

New Zealand author Witi Ihimaera will attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival, participating in events on language and nations, the evolution of language and post-colonial writing. The festival features 80 authors and 750 events.

Leading contemporary jazz band The Troubles will play a series of gigs as part of the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, including being part of the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra.

Poets Grace Taylor and Daren Kamali of Niu Navigations have been invited to take part in the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, a 10-day celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity.

In recognition of this special NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season, Creative New Zealand also gave priority in its September and October 2013 rounds of Quick Response and Arts Grants to artists applying for support to present small-scale works at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe. As a result, three further artists or companies were funded to take part: Java Dance with Back of the Bus; FanFiction Comedy and a solo show by Morgana O’Reilly, The Height of the Eiffel Tower.

Creative New Zealand congratulates all those New Zealand artists taking part in the Edinburgh festivals, independently of the NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season. “New Zealand has a strong history of highly successful performers at the Edinburgh Fringe, including The Topp Twins and Flight of the Conchords,” says Dr Grant. “I am sure that New Zealand artists will be among the great successes of Edinburgh this year.”


The Edinburgh Festivals comprise 12 separate annual festivals.

They include:

The Edinburgh International Festival (8-31 August) is recognised as the world’s leading arts festival, with audiences of 400,000 per year. For more information, visit

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (1-25 August) is the largest festival in the world. In 2012, 1.8 million tickets were sold and more than 22,000 artists took part across 279 venues.

The Edinburgh Art Festival (31 July- 31 August) involves the city’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces, attracting more than 250,000 visits each year.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (1-23 August) the world-famous pipes and marching bands spectacular in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, attracts an audience of 220,000 per year, and 100 million TV viewers every year.

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival (19-27 July) attracts an audience of 50,000 to 100 concerts played over 10

Scottish International Storytelling Festival (24 Oct to 2 Nov) is a 10-day celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity, inspired by the Scottish ceilidh tradition.

Edinburgh International Book Festival (9-25 August) involves 800 authors, 750 events and approximately 250,000 visitors each year.

New Zealand at Edinburgh 2014
Edinburgh International Festival (EIF): 8-31 August
Festival Director Sir Jonathan Mills has a particular interest in the stories and history of New Zealand and Australia in relation to the commemoration of World War 1. This is reflected in his selection of works for the EIF in 2014.

I AM, MAU, Edinburgh Playhouse
Following his acclaimed performances of Tempest: Without a Body and Birds with Skymirrors, Lemi Ponifasio returns to Edinburgh with a new work inspired by the legacy of the First World War and its impact around the world. I AM explores the power of art to transform and elevate us, to give us hope and a future, in counterbalance to the horrors wrought by war.
Relict Furies from Gareth Farr (performed by The Scottish Ensemble and Commonwealth Strings), The Queen’s Hall

Composer Gareth Farr’s new commission (a world premiere) is part of a vibrant celebration of the richness and diversity of music-making across the Commonwealth. Farr’s commission, with a libretto by Paul Horan, features alongside works by Elgar, Vaughn Williams, Peter Sculthorpe and Tippett performed by the Scottish Ensemble and Commonwealth Strings. Co-commissioned with the New Zealand Festival.

Michael Houstoun, Piano, The Queen’s Hall

Michael Houstoun is one of New Zealand’s finest musicians, praised around the globe for his vivid, fiery playing and for the clarity of his incisive interpretations. His festival recital contrasts glowing music by Commonwealth composers – Vaughn Williams and Douglas Lilburn – with glittering keyboard masterpieces from Ravel and Rachmaninov, all of which show off the power and poetry of the piano.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: 1-25 August

The Factory, Kila Kokonut Krew, Assembly Hall

New Zealand’s first-ever Pacific musical, The Factory, is a vibrant, funk-fuelled and entirely unique exploration of the Samoan migrant experience. Opening with a powerful call to ancestral roots delivered by the cast, The Factory is a moving, heart-felt story filled with music, song and dance.

Black Faggot, Multinesia Productions, Assembly, Roxy Upstairs
It’s not easy being young, gay and Samoan – especially when God and your mother are watching. A parade of colourful characters collides in this hit from the Auckland and Melbourne Fringe festivals. Black Faggot is written by leading New Zealand playwright Victor Rodger.

Strange Resting Places, Cuba Creative, Assembly 2

Combining live music with drama, comedy and performed in Māori, Italian and English, Strange Resting Places shines a light on the complex emotional bonds of New Zealand’s wartime history and the connections Māori shared with the Italians through whānau (family), kai (food) and waiata (song). Strange Resting Places, written by Paolo Rotondo and Rob Mokaraka, is theatre crafted from extensive research, contemporary storytelling and personal experience. Originally commissioned by Taki Rua Productions.

Duck, Death and the Tulip, Little Dog Barking, Summer Hall

Adapted from the award winning book by Wolf Erlbruch, Duck, Death and the Tulip is a gentle, warm and witty story about an unlikely friendship between Duck and a character who introduces himself as Death. Together Duck and Death learn about the wonders of life and the sadness of death. Directed by Nina Nawalowalo with music from Gareth Farr, the show uses mime, magic and puppets, to tell a very special tale.

The Generation of Z: Edinburgh, Royale Productions, Container Yard, Assembly Garden

The Generation of Z is immersive, site-specific theatre at its most intense. Thrust into a post-apocalyptic world where the threat of zombie attack is imminent, audiences must fight for their survival. Drawing on the conventions of zombie movies, the show employs pre-recorded movie footage, live CCTV footage and a large cast of security guards and zombies performing in a maze-like security containment depot. The Generation of Z had a sell-out season after its premiere in Auckland in 2013.

On the Upside Down of the World, Auckland Theatre Company and Laurel Devenie, Assembly Roxy Upstairs

Written by award-winning playwright Arthur Meek, On The Upside Down Of The World is based on the true story of intrepid Briton Lady Mary Ann Martin, who sailed to New Zealand to civilise the natives but instead found liberation and love as she fought against injustice dealt to Māori at the hands of the English.

Black Grace, Assembly, Roxy Central

Black Grace presents a collection of dance works by acclaimed choreographer Neil Ieremia. The work is rich in the story-telling traditions of the South Pacific and expressed with raw finesse, unique beauty and power.

HAKA, Te Matatini, Assembly Hall

New Zealand’s two leading Te Matatini kapa haka groups, Te Waka Huia and Te Whānau ā Apanui, present HAKA, the story of Te Hokowhitu ā Tū, the Māori Battalion, in a poignant commemoration to those who fell and those who returned.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle

New Zealand’s two leading kapa haka groups, Te Waka Huia and Te Whānau ā Apanui, and 36 New Zealand Highland Dancers join the world-famous pipes, drums and marching bands spectacular.

Edinburgh Art Festival: 31 July-31 August
Five New Zealand visual artists: Kushana Bush, Steve Carr, Gavin Hipkins, Shannon Te Ao and Yvonne Todd will take part in Where Do I End And You Begin, an international exhibition supported by the British Council. Curated by Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s Aaron Kreisler, their work will join those of artists from South Africa, London, New Delhi and Vancouver. Where Do I End And You Begin will be presented across four floors of Edinburgh’s Art Centre, as well as several off-site locations.

Edinburgh International Book Festival (9-25 August)
One of New Zealand’s best known Maori writers, Witi Ihimaera, will take part in a series of events, exploring themes including post-colonial literature.

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (18-27 July)
New Zealand's premiere contemporary jazz group, The Troubles, play a series of gigs, including being part of the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra. Led by John Rae, a drummer and composer originally from Edinburgh, The Troubles features Lucien Johnson, a rising star of Pacific jazz who also plays with the Black Seeds, and bass player Patrick Bleakley, a stalwart of legendary Kiwi bands including Blerta and the Jonathan Crayford Trio.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival (24 October- 2 November)
Poets, writers and performers Daren Kamali and Grace Taylor of Niu Navigations have been invited to present Kai Kasi at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. In this piece, they express what it means to be both island and city-born islanders living in diapsora in Aotearoa/NZ.

Creative New Zealand is grateful for the support of our partners, who have made this season of New Zealand at Edinburgh possible:

British Council New Zealand

Supporting the New Zealand delegates to take part in the 2014 MOMENTUM programme, and two nights of New Zealand contemporary music. Creative New Zealand and the British Council established MOMENTUM in 2013 to support greater artistic collaboration and exchange. This resulted in a delegation of 18 arts professionals attending last year’s Edinburgh Festivals, to develop their own professional networks. The MOMENTUM 2014 programme forms part of an on-going partnership between British Council and Creative New Zealand.


The New Zealand Government through Manatū Taonga: Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme

British Council New Zealand and British Council Scotland; Edinburgh International Festival; Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Edinburgh International Art Festival; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; Auckland Arts Festivals, Fringe Season Manager; Assembly Festival; Edinburgh International Book Festival; Scottish International Storytelling Festival; Creative Scotland.

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