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Papaioea Festival Of The Arts Program Announced

Local performance group Samba ao Vento delight the crowd during the launch of Papaioea Festival of the Arts at The Regent on Broadway on November 11, 2020. Image credit: Bradley Boniface.




Announcing the full program of events for the inaugural Papaioea Festival of the Arts; the Manawatū region’s celebration of performance, music, writing, ideas and art. The Festival has been made possible by funding from key partner, the Palmerston North City Council. Taking place over four beautifully crafted days from Wednesday 17 - Saturday 20 February 2021, the Festival will feature more than 40 exciting performances and projects, including 15 new and evolving works, and over 160 artists and creatives.

The Festival has developed an exceptional program that showcases local artists alongside their peers from across the country.

“In developing the Festival we have been thinking ‘hyper-local’; how can we produce a world-class event - an event that also has as many local people, local faces, local content and local stories as possible?” Kane Forbes, Artistic Director, Papaioea Festival of the Arts.

Papaioea Festival of the Arts has received funding from Central Energy Trust to support the technical delivery of a pop-up venue in the central city - The Garden at Te Marae o Hine (The Square).

The Garden is a transformative and exciting bespoke venue which is at the centre of the Festival, hosting the music program and other events. The Garden is the space that brings everyone together during moments in the Festival to engage and share stories and experiences.

“There is a real appetite for something new, something different, something grassroots, something that plays to our strengths, something that showcases our talents. It’s a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the thing that I think we do best. What our festival will do is showcase how we work together”. Rachel Bowen, Chair; Arts, Culture & Heritage Committee, Palmerston North City Council.

Papaioea Festival of the Arts will improve perceptions of the Manawatū as a centre for artistic excellence and a place where cultural experiences are of exceptional quality. It will also positively contribute to the reputation of the region as a leading cultural location.

“It cannot be underestimated how this opportunity will lift the professional development of each person involved and the community will benefit from that growth.” Ian Harman, Artistic Director, Lola & Friends.

Arts and cultural industries have been shaken by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Festival provides jobs for artists and others involved in the program, and fosters the development of new works and collaborations that will last well beyond the Festival dates. This is an important contribution to the economic recovery and development of these industries.

Supporting industries such as food and beverage, transport, events, suppliers, printing, marketing, accommodation, photography and others will be involved in the delivery of the Festival. This will be a hallmark event for 2021 and will give additional regional and national profile for those involved.

Festival Passes are available as an affordable and ethical Christmas shopping option that supports Aotearoa artists and local industries. Passes and the full Festival program can be found at

Highlights of the Festival include:


What is a Samoan? - A new work in development led by artists Tofiga Fepulea'i and James Nokise with community involvement.

Garage Party - The hilarious Modern Māori Quartet present their take on the quintessential Kiwi garage party.

Beacon and Last Call - Two bespoke variety shows that feature amazing local performers and special guests in our Garden venue.


Julia Deans - In an intimate solo show in the heart of our city at our Festival venue The Garden at Te Marae o Hine.

Is There Life On Mars? - On February 19th the Mars Perseverance Rover will touch down on the red planet, finally answering the question ‘Is there life on Mars?’. To celebrate this event the Festival is producing a lush night of music and performance.

Families and young people

Lost Letter Office - A love letter to handwritten letters produced by Capital E.

Turtle Labyrinth - Tape Art will create a beautiful new interactive public art project, the Turtle Labyrinth, in the courtyard at Te Manawa Museum.

Whānau Day (Saturday 20 February)

Boxing - Boxing’s Biggest Baddie Fraser Hooper will dare to challenge all comers in a three-round bout of pure comedy carnage.

Visual art

HERE IS A SKY - An exhibition of visual art from Kirsty Porter and Chris Lambert.

Public space and installations

The Little Things - Sarah Bingle’s small pockets of joy and wonder for people to discover.

Writing, workshops and new ideas

Not Woman Enough - Proudly Asian Theatre brings ‘Fresh Off The Page’ to Papaioea to engage with 2019's Not Woman Enough by Hweiling Ow.


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