NZ International Arts Festival

It’s being billed as: “24 extraordinary days. 300 arts events.”  The New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012 will run from 24 February to 18 March in the capital, and the programme surely has something for everyone.

The festival is increasingly seen as one of the of the region’s most important arts festivals, with over 300,000 people experiencing some of the world’s major creative performances including specially commissioned New Zealand works. The 2012 programme features nine world premieres.

The event is committed to supporting New Zealand artists and has, over the years, commissioned and produced more than 95 new New Zealand plays, operas, music and other events.


2012’s Maori and Pacific Island line-up includes:

  • A brand-new opera ‘Hōhepa’, with NBR New Zealand Opera, based on the true story of Māori chief Hōhepa Te Umuroa, imprisoned in Tasmania in the 1840s. The cast includes Phillip Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu.
  • Lemi Ponifasio’s provocative dance work, ‘Birds with Skymirrors’.
  • Patricia Grace’s award-winning novel ‘Tu’, brought to the stage by Hone Kouka.
  • ‘Masi’, a delightful Wellington cross-cultural love story, featuring special effects by Paul Kieve, magic adviser to the Harry Potter movies.
  • A te reo version of Shakespeare’s ‘Troilus and Cressida’, which heads to London’s Globe Theatre after the festival.

Beautiful Burnout

International highlights include:

  • Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s acclaimed new work, ‘Political Mother’, complete with live band.
  • British all-male Shakespeare company, Propeller, presents two productions, ‘Henry V’ and ‘The Winter’s Tale’.
  • The Barefoot Divas, a co-production with the Sydney Festival features five indigenous women performers, including Whirimako Black and Maisey Rika, who perform their songs and tell their stories for ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes’.
  • Renowned choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Sutra) returns with his dazzling new work TeZukA, inspired by Japanese comic books.
  • Innovative UK company Kneehigh’s dark and visceral fairy tale, ‘The Wild Bride’.
  • National Theatre of Scotland joins forces with masters of physical theatre Frantic Assembly for ‘Beautiful Burnout’, a gritty and explosive piece of physical theatre about boxing.
  • North African band ‘Tinariwen’ with their hypnotic brand of desert blues.

Wellington is also a key part of the festival experience and, this year, the capital’s waterfront will be transformed into the event’s hub. Michel Tuffery’s vibrant multi-media artwork ‘First Contact 2012’ will turn Te Papa into a huge moving canvas every night at dusk, while three generations of Belgium’s Ronaldo family will entertain crowds in a vintage Big Top for their show ‘Circenses’.

Germain Greer

And for lovers of the written word, the Festival’s Writers’ and Readers’ Week runs from 9-14 March. The impressive line-up includes:

  • Writer and academic Germaine Greer, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of our time.
  • Australian environmentalist, scientist and author Tim Flannery.
  • Three-time Pulitzer-Prize winning author Thomas Friedman, one of the world’s most influential public intellectuals.
  • Man Booker Prize-winner Alan Hollinghurst.

For more information:

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