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Spectacular opening for 2018 New Zealand Festival

Harbour to take centre stage for spectacular opening of 2018 New Zealand Festival

“Waka carry stories, art, science, knowledge whakapapa and performance. When the waka arrives it seeks relationships, contact and togetherness.” - A Waka Odyssey Creative Team

A mass assembly of waka hourua (twin-hulled ocean-going waka) from around the Pacific and Aotearoa will descend on Wellington Harbour at dusk on 23 February, opening New Zealand’s largest international arts Festival with an unprecedented spectacular work by A Waka OdysseyCreative Team Anna Marbrook, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Kasia Pol.

Developed through a unique partnership between A Waka Odyssey Creative Team, New Zealand Festival and Te Āti Awa / Taranaki Whānui Iwi, tens of thousands of people are expected on Wellington’s waterfront to experience this exceptional free event, as the Capital’s harbour takes centre stage.

Designed to honour and celebrate our shared voyaging history, A Waka Odyssey is a series of events over five days, beginning with an opening night theatrical spectacle to honour the legacy of famous Pacific explorer, Kupe. The choreographed movements of seven waka hourua, eight waka taua, and a fleet of waka ama will bring the harbour to life; while on land actors, choirs and kapa haka groups welcome the voyagers to the Capital. A 1000-strong new haka for Wellington will be performed, and a full musical score is being composed by New Zealand music icon Warren Maxwell.

Free, community-based opening night events have become a hallmark of Shelagh Magadza’s Artistic Directorship during her six-year tenure at the New Zealand Festival. Like the Le Grand Continental dance display in 2016, and The Big Bang drumming extravaganza in 2014, Shelagh says A Waka Odyssey is not a one-off, but involves deep community participation and commitment, and will have resonance throughout New Zealand, and beyond.

“This stunning opening night event is an amazing way to open our three-week Festival, and we feel privileged that waka hourua vessels will travel to the Capital from all around Aotearoa, with others sailing to us from as far away as Samoa and Cook Islands. A Waka Odyssey promises to be a poignant and historic cultural event for New Zealand, and is the perfect fit with the 2018 Festival’s themes of journey, home and belonging.”

“The opening night will mark the beginning of a week of activity inspired by waka hourua and Pacific voyaging. As well as fun activities like a free Whanau Day at Petone Foreshore on 24 February, there’s an extensive education programme associated with A Waka Odyssey, traversing the themes of navigation, voyaging, science, environment, sustainability, and history,” Shelagh says.

The Festival is showcasing A Waka Odyssey with the three talented Creative Directors behind the work: the master navigator, scholar, and Haunui captain Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, the award-winning director Anna Marbrook, and international artist and designer Kasia Pol.

The Creative Team of Marbrook, Barclay-Kerr, and Pol, say their shared vision for A Waka Odyssey is to create a work that will have long term meaning for Aotearoa: In the Pacific, our threshold is the mighty ocean. The pre-colonised Pacific viewpoint of the ocean is that of something that connects us all as humans. The waka hourua and their crew give voice to this. As they sail they weave together cultures and histories. And in a contemporary world the waka inspire us not to search for new land but to search for new ways forward as human beings.

The Weta Digital Season of Barber Shop Chronicles
For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops.
Sometimes they have haircuts, sometimes they listen, more often than not, they talk. Barber shops are confession boxes, political platforms, preacher pulpits and football pitches... places to go for unofficial advice, and to keep in touch with the world.
Barber Shop Chronicles is a heart-warming play set in barber shops traversing Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos, Accra and London.

Jordi Savall, with Hespèrion XXI & Tembembe Ensamble Continuo
Folias Antiguas y Criollas at the Michael Fowler Centre on 24 February, Jordi Savall and his renowned early music ensemble Hespèrion XXI will be joined by South American/Mexican chamber music group Tembembe Ensamble Continuo for an evening of world music taken from a number of Savall's recordings, juxtaposing European Baroque music with songs and dances from indigenous South America.

About the New Zealand Festival (23 Feb – 18 March, 2018)
Held every two years across February and March, the New Zealand Festival is New Zealand’s largest celebration of cutting edge culture. With more than 30 years’ experience producing successful Festivals, our longevity and reputation mean we continue to attract the world’s greatest cultural performers to the capital. We also support the growth of New Zealand artists to showcase new work both here and internationally. As well as bringing the best in music, arts, literature, dance and theatre to Wellington, we are known for presenting successful large-scale ticketed events such as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (2016). Under the Artistic Direction of Shelagh Magadza the Festival has committed to presenting and producing large scale, free, participatory community events, such as The Big Bang (2014) and Le Grand Continental (2016). The next New Zealand Festival is 23 February – 18 March 2018. The full programme will be released on 17 October.
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