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New Zealand Festival 2018

The event with the most straight down the line name, New Zealand Festival, is back.

Every two years, the city of Wellington is turned into one giant hoo-haa with a bombardment of art, performance and live music. When New Zealand Festival is in town, the city’s theatres, concert halls and galleries are the festival tents.

New Zealand Festival runs for three jolly weeks, showcasing a carefully curated line-up of bands, dancers, artists, screenings, exhibitions, talks, discussions and club nights for those lucky enough to snap up some tickets.

We look at five performances any sane art-loving person should see at New Zealand Festival 2018.

Grizzly Bear

For anyone with a finger even slightly on the indie pulse, this Brooklyn quartet needs no introduction. Grizzly Bear’s blend of floaty, dreamy, art rock is instantly recognisable and has been heaped with praise from the likes of Fleet Foxes and Radiohead.

A Waka Odyssey

The opening event, A Waka Odyssey, is there to stir the conversational pot about the arrival of the great navigator and explorer Kupe to Aotearoa, and New Zealand’s earliest inhabitants.

The massive three part performance will include a huge fleet of traditional voyaging waka; a specially-commissioned theatre piece by Anna Marbrook, Hotu Barclay-Kerr and Kasia Pol; and a 1000-person haka.

Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert

A screening of the original Star Wars film with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performing the music – that’s never not going to be mind blowing. Just stop for a second and imagine the brass section blasting out the intro as the yellow credits roll into outer space.


A freak on the bass guitar and a wonder in the studio, Thundercat (Stephen Bruner), is a 33 year-old Los Angeleno with a collaboration and production credit list as long as your arm. Described as an “Afrofuturist jazz-fusion genius” by Rolling Stone, Bruner will be taking the crowd through his latest album, Drunk.

Cécile McLorin Salvant & The Aaron Diehl Trio

The New York Times have gone as far to say McLorin is “the finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade”. Check out Live at Dizzy’s 2016 for a taste of the attitude, heartbreak and presence this Miamian brings to the stage.

words by niall roeder

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