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paperback thrones' picks: new zealand festival 2018


In just over a month, New Zealand Festival will return to Wellington and bring with it a stellar line-up of arts, culture, and history. The motto is art for everyone, everywhere - what more could the coolest little capital need to shake up and make 2018 one of the most interesting years yet.

David Byrne was initially scheduled to headline (yay), but due to unforeseen circumstances had to cancel (boo). Luckily thanks to bands such as the Staves, Thundercat, Grizzly Bear and more lined up to wow Wellington,  the blow's been mightily softened.

Here are my top picks of the festival:

Kupe (A Waka Odyssey)
Friday 23 February 7:00pm 


To launch the festival, a majestic fleet of waka hourua will make their way into Wellington Harbour, a "moving finale to their months-long journey from Samoa, the Cook Islands and around New Zealand". Following this will be Kupe Landing and Kupe Dreaming, both a series of events ranging from the 2nd Pacific Climate Change Conference, a Petone beach clean up, and the Waka parade on Saturday 24th February.

Saturday 24 February - Sunday 4 March


My eye was first drawn to this piece of theatre after seeing it was supported by the beautiful Leeds-based West Yorkshire Playhouse (among others), corroborated by the fact its debut sold-out at London's National Theatre. It's showing over the course of 9 days, so there should be plenty of opportunity to catch it. 

Tuesday 27 February 7:30pm / Wednesday 28 February 7:30pm 


Delve into other dimensions in this haunting Taiwanese theatrical dance show. If you've ever wanted to see martial arts mixed with tai chi, mixed with contemporary dance, bold percussion and stunning visual effects, this is for you. 
Thursday 1 March 8:00pm (other show sold out)


Afrofuturism meets psychedelia meets funk: that's how I would describe Stephen Bruner's musical alias Thundercat. Having previously worked with Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and King Kendrick,  the producer fuses neo-soul with the surreal to create tunes you won't be able to stop humming. 'Friend Zone' and 'Them Changes' are personal highlights - I can't wait to see how he serves them up in a live setting.

Saturday 3 March 8:00pm / Sunday 4 March 8:00pm


Grizzly Bear had been off the radar for five years until their triumphant 2017 release, Painted Ruins. Now their choral, dreamy melodies make their way to New Zealand as the play two shows in Wellington - not one to miss!

Sunday 4 March 7:00pm / Tuesday 6 March 7:00pm 


These three sisters from the South of England have the most transcendent sound; their voices float together to create the modern equivalent of the Siren song. I was lucky enough to see them in Leeds a couple of years ago, a beautiful gig with otherworldly harmonies that moved me. Not only do the Staves wow with their vocals, but also with their unbeatably sharp wit and comedic chat. 
Thursday 8 March 


Celebrate International Women's Day with "a celebration of women, their words and their power to change -- marking 125 years of New Zealand suffrage." Having their say will be New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh, broadcasters, novelists, poets, and columnists. 

Sunday 11 March 1:30pm (other showing sold out)


Star Wars: A New Hope is brought to life by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in this sure-to-be spectacular screening of the 1977 classic. The perfect excuse to don your side-buns and intergalactic costumes.

Wednesday 14 March / Saturday 17 March 8:00pm


If you've ever wanted to see the famous ballet set in Ireland, with a Nordic noir twist, now's your time. "This extraordinary, magical performance transports you along an imagined dark path towards the light and resounding redemption." 

What will you be going to see? 

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