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Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival Rebrands

The Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival will now be known as Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa.

Festival Director Geoff Turkington says the rebrand reflects the festival’s journey over the last few years into one of national significance.

“After what have been tough and unprecedented times for the arts, it’s a good moment to reflect on where we’ve been and where we see ourselves going.

“Not only has our presence grown locally, the festival has also evolved into a destination in its own right with visitors traveling from all over Aotearoa to experience it,” says Turkington.

For over 25 years, the festival has been Waikato's premiere arts event, bringing together iconic local events like Sunset Symphony and Summer Shakespeare with big name national and international shows.

The first festival under the new name will go ahead next year from 24 Feb- 5 March.

“For 10 days each year Hamilton Kirikiriroa is transformed with over 1,000 artists converging on the city to present rich and diverse storytelling that connects with our personal and national identities,” according to Turkington.

The rebrand is accompanied by a change in the way the festival looks and feels, with a new website, logo and 2023 programme to be rolled out in the coming weeks.


The te reo name ‘Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa’, was chosen by Te Reo Rangatira expert Rahui Papa, a tribal leader, historian for Kiingitanga, and Co-Chair of Pou Tangata, National Iwi Chairs Forum.

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‘Toi Ora’ appears in the Paimaariri karakia and comes from Kiingi Taawhiao tongikura (a proverb made famous by Tāwhiao the second Māori king) which roughly translates as:

“Grow the treasure, sustain the treasure, develop the treasure, the treasure that stems from Hawaiki”.

In the context of the festival, ‘Toi Ora’ can be seen as looking after the wellbeing of the arts in Kirikiriroa.

Festival Chair Chris Williams says Toi Ora could also refer to the unique and beautiful combination of live performance and our amazing gardens.

“Translated literally, Toi Ora means living art,” says Williams.

We love this because, not only does it reflect the live performance aspect, but it also recognises the true artistic beauty of our gardens which, of course, are living, growing works of art. I cannot think of a better way to express what makes us special and unique as a festival.”

Hamilton Gardens Remains Festival’s Primary Venue

The rebrand does not indicate any change in the festival's relationship with the Hamilton Gardens, according to Festival Director Turkington.

“The Hamilton Gardens are our greatest asset and our relationship with the gardens has only deepened over the last few years.

“The joy of being able to play in such a magical setting is what our audience and artists love about the festival. You’ll still see a focus on really bringing those spaces to life.”

Turkington says that the recent decision to expand the festival’s footprint to include key CBD venues (including The Meteor and Clarence Street Theatre) has made it possible to present ‘more complex shows that require greater technical infrastructure than what a predominantly outdoor setting can host’.

Hamilton Arts Festival launches its programme on 24 November.

While Turkington is tight-lipped on the details of the programme, he says it’s “a joyous fusion of new shows alongside some of the most eagerly awaited shows from last year’s ill-fated programme”.

Last year Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival launched a succesfull crowd-funding campaign to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on the festival.

This year’s festival had to be cancelled just weeks before it had planned to open due to Covid-19 related event restrictions, making the 2023 programme the first to go ahead since 2021.

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