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Welcome to the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival

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Nau mai, haere mai ki te Ahurei Toi o Te Matau a Maui

The theme and aspiration for the Festival this year is “Be Open”, to encourage our community to be open to ideas and experiences that delight, challenge and entertain. That collectively we are open and accepting of ideas and experiences that unite us and make us richer.  See you all in October for a celebration of theatre, music, dance, comedy, circus and literary delights.

Fabulous Theatre

The Haka Party Incident

Directed by Katie Wolfe, this Auckland Theatre Company production masterfully brings to life a bold act of resistance. It resurrects the eventful day when a group of University of Auckland engineering students rehearsing their annual tradition of a mock haka, were confronted by the activist group He Taua. Violence erupted and sent ripples through the nation that changed race relations in New Zealand forever. Using the testimony from recorded interviews by Wolfe of more than 20 people who were there, this is a powerful representation of activist theatre.

October 18, 7pm

April’s Fool

Giving young people a voice and space to express themselves and their concerns for the world is an important part of creating a Festival. Hawke’s Bay Youth Theatre under the direction of Peter Cottrell and Champa Maciel, presents a powerful work of verbatim theatre, written by Australian playwright David Burton.
Described as charming, intelligent, ambitious, and honourable, Toowoomba teenager Kristjan Terauds, died on April Fool’s Day 2009 after complications from illegal drug use. Intimate, moving, thought provoking, and sometimes confronting, this is ultimately an optimistic reflection on the choices we make and how they affect those we love. A perfect work for all audiences, including teenage family members, to experience the magic of live theatre.

October 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 - 6pm

Mrs Krishnan's Party 

Quite simply, this is a party and you are all invited.  Step into the back room of Mrs Krishnan’s store where garlands decorate the ceiling and music flows at a party that has the critics raving and audiences leaping to their feet.

Created by Indian Ink Theatre Company, the extraordinary artistic partnership of Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis, whose first play was “Krishnan’s Dairy”. This was a love story set in a corner shop, the power of which caught everyone by surprise. That shop has kept its doors open for 20 years, touring the length and breadth of these shores and beyond. Mrs Krishnan’s Party picks up seven years later, but don’t worry, you don’t have to have seen “Krishnan’s Dairy” to enjoy the party.

Music, heightened theatricality, humour, pathos, and great storytelling are hallmarks of Indian Ink’s work, and we are privileged to experience this here in Hawke’ Bay.

October 23, October 24, 12pm and 6pm.

Ka Shue (Letters Home)

Ka-Shue is an epic story of love, laughter and loss over 100 years, seen through the eyes of a Chinese family struggling to resettle in Aotearoa. The experiences of three generations of the Leung family are beautifully told, as they are swept across continents and time through the Second World War, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the buried history of the Poll Tax levied against Chinese migrants only.

This broad sweep of political events is a backdrop for the personal dramas of the five characters, all of them brilliantly written and performed by Lynda Chanwai-Earle, who went to school in Havelock North, with  live music performed by Nikau Wi Neera.

October 20, 7.30pm

Hello Darkness

While receiving treatment for prostate cancer, the writer Peter Wells - an intensely private person - reached out to the world via Facebook, where he examined his life as he also contemplated the end of it. Peter's posts were collated and published under the title Hello Darkness. Now, award winning playwright Victor Rodger (Black Faggot) has adapted Hello Darkness as a one man show, featuring Roy Ward (Brokenwood Mysteries) in a show directed by  Shane Bosher, that is at times moving, and other times amusing. 

October 24, 7.30pm

Whare Korero: Stories within Stories

A special commission for the 2021 Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival this is an intimate theatre experience from the coastline of Te Matau A Maui, Hawke’s Bay directed and co-created by Puti Lancaster (The Contours of Heaven, As the Day Draws In) featuring Kristyl Neho and Eru Heke with their own stories.
A Thousand Thoughts A Minute - a guide into the unequivocal world of Kristyl Neho, a self-confessed Drama Queen. Full of rich intense whānau characters and of flamboyant, feral decision making - this is pure and unadulterated Kristyl!
The Hunger Strikes Me - a story of voice, dreaming and whānau shared from the heart of one rangatahi, Eru Heke. An intimate performance of utter charm and honesty, full of movement and poignancy.

Spaceship, Karamu Rd, October 26, 27 and 28- 6pm

Every Kind of Weather

One of Aotearoa’s most significant playwrights, Bruce Mason, wrote in with courage and insight. He was a lover of language and a champion of the underdog.
2021 marks the centenary of his birth, and actor Stephen Lovatt is collaborating with director Shane Bosher and the Bruce Mason Estate to celebrate his extraordinary legacy, with two of Mason’s best, ironically Kiwi plays.

The End of the Golden Weather - an adolescent boy tries to find his place in an adult-dominated world, and as a young man retraces an intensely felt boyhood experience of bullying. A playwright in his last days reconciles the value of an artistic life and challenges the idea of New Zealand identity.

October 31, 2pm

Not Christmas, but Guy Fawkes - a richly autobiographical search for self-expression. Profound and true, it is a set of variations about over-reaching, cheekily confronting our very own Tall Poppy Syndrome. Comic disasters and confronting your own hubris.

October 31, 7.30pm

Music For All Tastes

Contemporary Music, Hip Hop, Folk and Flamenco

Che Fu and the Kratez: Return of the Navigator 

With the most top ten songs of any individual in New Zealand music history, Che Fu is one of the country’s most successful and beloved recording artists. Originally coming to the attention of Aotearoa NZ in the early 90's as one of the original members of iconic kiwi rock band Supergroove, Che went on to forge a career as a solo-artist writing and recording hip hop/soul chart-topping songs such as Chains and Misty Frequencies, and platinum selling albums such as 2b S. Pacific and The Navigator.
Che Fu and his band the Kratez will be playing all the tracks off his Navigator album in its entirety in celebration of it being 20 years since its release. Hip Hop, Reggae, and Soul music, with a South Pacific voice. 

October 23, 8pm


Hawke's Bay group, Ish, plays traditional acoustic music from around the world, with some stunning music from Bulgaria, Sweden, Moldova, Ireland, Brittany and Egypt.   Conceived during the 2020 lockdown Ish is the brainchild of Dana Parkhill. The Ish whānau pools its talent from various musical paths and includes Louise Ward, Phill Jones, Johnny Goodhind, Joe Dobson and Chris Beernink alongside Dana Parkhill, who are all based here in Hawke’s Bay. Join Ish for evocative sounds and relentless rhythms as they transport you to fire-lit camps, crowded taverns and fiesta dance floors playing fiddle, flute, bouzouki, banjo, bass, cajon and drums.

October 25, 8pm

Tierra Y Mar Flamenco Project

Paul Bosauder, who will perform the Tierra Y Mar Flamenco Project, has recently moved home to live in Napier after studying and performing  flamenco guitar for 14 years in Spain. This concert will bring a truly once-in-a-lifetime flamenco experience to the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival. The audience will be taken on an authentic journey to the South of Spain to discover the essence of flamenco guitar and dance. Paul will team up with local musicians, enriched by collaborations with world-class New Zealand musicians, to explore the limits of flamenco dance, composition and improvisation. Tierra Y Mar contrasts tradition and innovation, expression and discipline.

October 27, 7.30pm

Teremoana Rapley: Of a Housegirl 

Fresh from her sold-out 2021 Kia Mau Festival theatre debut, Daughter, Teremoana Rapley continues her live creative research and development inquiry triptych series with Of a Housegirl.
The second instalment of this analogue sensory-challenging experience is the continued culmination of her-storytelling ability told through multidisciplinary means of music, imagery, shadow-play, audio-spatial design, moving images and space. 
Watch creativity unfold in real time, inner conversations and outstanding salutations of a 30+ year career in music, events and television. Teremoana brings her whole self to the table, unapologetically expressing her thoughts delivered in a natural curation process interplayed between aural and visual sensations from 808’s bass to sweet acoustic tunes, from seasonal backdrops to artistic graphic design interpretations of each of her songs. Step inside the world of a Black Moana Sovereign Storyteller.

October 26, 7.30pm

Reb Fountain

Award winning songwriter Reb Fountain brings her outstanding band to the Festival; premiering material from her highly anticipated new album IRIS along with songs from her Taite Prize winning self-titled album. After wowing Crowded House fans around the country earlier this year, and performing with Dave Khan to five sold out Small Hall Sessions in rural Hawke’s Bay, Reb returns to Hastings for one night only. A consummate performer, spell-binding audiences with her music and artistry alike, Reb is not an artist not to be missed. 

October 29, 7.30pm

Troy Kingi with Delaney Davidson: Black Sea Golden Ladder 

We are excited to have the combination of Troy Kingi and Delaney Davidson come together for this year’s Festival. Both have performed at previous Festivals but never as a duo, which promises to be a fantastic night.  Troy Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi) has arrived at the halfway point of his 1O 1O 1O Series: ten albums, ten genres, ten years. Following on from his remarkable performance of The Ghost of Freddie César at last year’s Festival, Kingi now swaps out his soul styling for folk twang and 12 strings on Black Sea Golden Ladder.

Co-produced and performing with award winning Ōtautahi folk/country stalwart Delaney Davidson, Kingi says: "It is the most personal of all my albums – the first one I feel that is truly about me.” Each track dives deep into a different part of life, from birth to death, with the lead single 'Call My Name' unearthing school day memories, written by Davidson, Kingi and Kingi's daughter.

This collaborative album was written and recorded as part of the Matairangi Mahi Toi Artist Residency in Wellington - a partnership between the Governor General and Massey University established in 2016 to encourage and promote the development of Māori and Pasifika visual arts and creative practices.

October 30, 7.30pm

Contemporary Classical, Traditional Māori

Silver Stone and Wood Bone

Silver Stone and Wood Bone weaves soundscapes and landscapes together into a haunting multi-sensory tapestry of music and moving imagery. Bridget Douglas, principal flute in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, joins with Alistair Fraser, renowned taonga pūoro researcher and artist, to weave their two musical worlds across one magical night.

Western flutes and traditional Māori instruments come together in both celebrated and new pieces by New Zealand composers, including John Psathas, Gillian Whitehead and Gareth Farr. The performance is set against the striking backdrop of a specially commissioned video work by visual artist Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi), illustrating our country’s unique landscapes which have shaped the sounds of these instruments over generations.

October 21, 7.30pm

Strauss, Pärt and Mendelssohn

Hawke's Bay’s premier orchestral ensemble is joined by professional musician ‘friends’ from around the country to present three landmark compositions for larger chamber ensembles – Strauss’ Capriccio for string sextet, Pärt’s Tabula Rasa for strings and prepared piano, and Mendelssohn Octet. This is a unique chance to experience these amazing works right here at the Blyth Performing Arts Centre  in Havelock North.

October 28, 7.30pm


Mana Wahine

Mana Wahine (powerful women) is an all-female work by Okareka Dance Company that draws strength from traditional Māori culture to illustrate a tapestry of dance, theatre and film.

Created by three of Aotearoa’s best contemporary dance exponents, artistic director Taiaroa Royal with Taane Mete and Malia Johnston, Mana Wahine celebrates the essence of wahine, life and death. Drawing on Māori tikanga dance, waiata and karakia with mesmerising imagery, cultural advisor Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield emanates her wisdom with Okareka Dance Company to create this vision of strength that has empowered women around the world.
The piece emulates the journey from creature to motherhood, life force to the spirit world, the honouring of Papatuānuku mother earth and Ranginui sky father and our powerful ancestresses. This extraordinary work was inspired by the true stories of two Te Arawa ancestresses, Kearoa and Te Aokapurangi.

From the stunning opening to the spine-chilling finale, this display of courage, determination and fearlessness translates femininity into a mesmerising performance that honours the strength, honesty, integrity and nurturing energies of women. 

October 16, 5.30pm

Faces of Nature 

Led by award winning artists Aloali'i Tapu and Tori Manley-Tapu, Ta’alili, Faces of Nature explores how perceptions shape communities and reflects on personal experiences of tension between cultures, systems and stereotypes.
We co-exist. We search for what binds us together; for what gives us the delight in being with others. And the offerings of insight we give those who walk alongside us. The young are attached to the faces of the growing technological presence while the world ages and dissolves.

We search for the moments of Being a member of Aotearoa before we are the other things. We share our experiences of living the modern Kiwi image; the turmoils and triumphs of living in a Euro-centric country. The dancers are highlighted as heroes and anti-heroes in society; thus, the ideas of duality were relevant to the research and development of Faces of Nature.

Faces of Nature also features young Hawke’s Bay dancers who have come together as part of a workshop series by dancer and choreographer Aloali'i Tapu, supported by Seidah Tuaoi and Rezpect Dance Studio.

October 25, 6.30pm

Come and have a laugh

Urzila Carlson

Laughter is guaranteed with multi-award winning South African-New Zealander, Urzila Carlson.  She is currently one of the biggest names in comedy in Australia and New Zealand and known for her stand-up comedy performances as well as regular TV appearances on 7 Days, Have You Been Paying Attention and Taskmaster NZ. Her trademark deadpan humour and cheeky wit has seen her win fans the world over for her television appearances and live shows.  During the recent lockdown she has been doing Facebook live, an honest and hilarious account of her lockdown experiences, in MIQ and now at home, simply called Lockumentary. 

She brings to the 2021 Festival her latest show - It's Personal. This is a show about keeping your cards close to your chest but walking around naked. Can we have it all? Yes, but also bloody no but also, it's none of your business because IT'S PERSONAL. Welcome to the days of mind your own business and don't comment on others’ business. Not their gender, sexuality, body, hair, education or career. Also, welcome to the days of total oversharing on social media, but STILL, mind your own business. We want to talk about things and want everyone to know, IT'S PERSONAL!

It's Personal follows Urzila's NETFLIX hour-long comedy special Overqualified Loser, recorded in Melbourne in December 2019. Winning Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s People's Choice Award in 2019 for most tickets sold across the festival, Carlson is a guaranteed a sell-out.  Catch her while you can, right on your doorstep in Hawke’s Bay.

October 22, 7.30pm

The Artist

Comedy and circus sensation Thom Monckton will astound you in The Artist: an incredible feat of physical strength, skilled theatrics, and comedic storytelling. To be in the audience of a Thom Monckton performance is spellbinding, as he makes a spectacular experience out of the ordinary. An artist arrives at his paint-spattered studio ready to create a new work. He waits for inspiration. When it finally comes, things don’t proceed quite as he would wish. For this artist, every task is filled with challenges – chaos is unavoidable. “This world-class performer has accomplished what feels like a full day’s work in his artist’s studio with an ease that belies the years of training that have brought him to this exquisite moment." - Theatreview (NZ)

October 21, 7.30pm

Readers and Writers

The Hawke’s Bay Readers Writers Festival kicks off on Friday, October 29, and promises a weekend packed full of fascinating conversations on storytelling and the burning issues of the day. Events this year include: 

Storytime with Kyle Mewburn – October 29, 4pm

Stepping into the Sun, Stories of Coming Out– Kyle Mewburn and Lil O’Brien with Tim Sainsbury – October 29, 6pm

Funny HaHa – Tom Sainsbury and Catherine Robertson die on stage – October 29, 8pm

Writing For Children – workshop with Kyle Mewburn – October 30, 10am

She is Not Your Rehab – Matt and Sarah Brown – October 30, 11am

Māori Made Easy – Scotty and Stacey Morrison – October 30, 2pm

Australian Gothic – Craig Silvey with Gareth Ward – October 30, 5pm

Dead Girls Don’t Lie – Becky Manawatu, Jacqueline Bublitz and Tina Clough on changing the narrative – October 30, 7pm

The Edible Backyard – Kath Irvine in conversation with Lizzie Russell – October 31, 10am

Mana/va Tusiata Avia and Karlo Mila with Nafanua Kersel – October 31, 12pm

A Life on the Move – Geoff Chapple with Roger Hall - October 31, 4pm

Tall Tales and Derring Do – Graham McTavish with Jess Soutar Barron - October 31, 6pm

Edible Garden Workshop - November 1, 10am

For further information and tickets, please visit  Please note: any tickets purchased to shows that may be cancelled due to Covid-19 changes will be fully refunded.   

1 October 2021

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