October 15, 2021


Four weeks of cutting-edge arts experiences in 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts 

The full programme for the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts* has been announced, featuring multiple world premieres, the finest in Māori and indigenous art, and leaders in innovative and ground-breaking art experiences (21 February to 20 March).

Known for bringing cutting-edge arts experiences to Te Whanganui-a-Tara every two years since 1986, this year is no exception. With free and ticketed events curated for the whole whānau, there are a range of extraordinary music, opera, theatre, dance, visual arts and literature experiences on offer.

Creating a space to experience emotional and meaningful journeys, the Festival encourages New Zealanders to discover more about themselves and others, to come together, and enjoy all the capital city has to offer alongside friends and whānau.

Opening the Festival is Artist in Focus, visual artist Lisa Reihana MNZM, with in Pursuit of Venus [infected]at Te Papa on 15 October 2021. Alongside this, Reihana is presenting a never-before-seen series of installations named Kura Moana. The Weta Digital Season of Kura Moanaconsists of six installations centred around Te Moana-nui a-Kiwa, the great ocean, and its role as connector between Aotearoa and across the Pacific nations.

Situated along Wellington’s waterfront, the installations will feature music, playful inflatable sculptures and augmented reality, providing new ways to think about the local histories and stories that relate to Pōneke.

Mere Boynton, Director Ngā Toi Māori says, “Kura Moana is a gift to our city, embedding the stories of tangata whenua back into the whenua. In these strange and disruptive times, Kura Moana aims to lift the wairua (spirit) of Pōneke and its people, bringing our waterfront alive.”

Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts is also proud to present an array of must-see theatre pieces including two world premieres, The Parkin Season of Lysander’s Auntyand Aliens & Anorexia.

Lysander’s Auntyis a witty reworking of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, bringing an offstage character into the limelight in all her free-spirited, rebellious glory. Jumping from Athens to Aotearoa, with a cast of New Zealand’s finest comic talent, Lysander’s Auntyis a wild ride of magic, mayhem and mutiny. Aliens & Anorexiaa clever and funny new theatre adaptation of acclaimed feminist writer Chris Kraus’ book by the same name, delivered by innovative theatre-makers Eleanor Bishop and Karin McCracken.

A one-night-only performance HIHĪ – A Song of Place, is set to be a Festival highlight for 2022.

HIHĪwill showcase some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most remarkable songbirds and kaihaka (performers) alongside members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The Chamber Music Serieswill present five carefully crafted, out-of-the-ordinary chamber experiences especially for the Festival. Reflecting on New Zealanders’ connection to histories, land and spiritual realms, these performances span from delicate to the monumental.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s free 75th Anniversary concert promises to be a unique entertainment event, as conductor Gemma New takes the audience on a journey showcasing the diverse talents of our world-class Orchestra. The festivities begin early with pre-concert activities for the whole family, then the Orchestra will give a taste of the rich and dynamic music they’ve been playing for three-quarters of a century. With old favourites, new pieces to discover, big symphonic moments, and emotive solo pieces, this is a special musical celebration not to be missed.

Coming to Wellington for the first time, audiences have the chance to witness the must-see theatre event of 2021, The Haka Party Incident, which resurrects the eventful day in 1979 when a group of University of Auckland engineering students rehearsing their annual tradition of a mock haka were challenged by the activist group, He Taua. Crafted by award-winning film-maker and theatre director Katie Wolfe, The Haka Party Incidentis verbatim theatre that innovatively combines documentary and kapa haka to thrilling effect.

Another standout performance of the 2022 Festival is by celebrated Māori performance company Hawaiki TŪ, who will be making their Pōneke debut with the award-winning work Taurite. Featuring twenty kaihaka (performers), this is a visually striking performance fusing kapa haka, contemporary dance, and 3D projections intertwined with ngā taonga tuku iho (treasures of traditional heritage steeped in ancestral roots).

Meditative and moving, internationally acclaimed ballet Venus Rising presented by the Royal New Zealand Ballet consists of three extraordinary works, by three inspiring and internationally celebrated choreographers. Global dance legend Twyla Tharp brings this showcase of top-flight international dance to a climax with the New Zealand premiere of Waterbaby Bagatelles.

Pōhutuis a high-impact dance performance by choreographer Bianca Hyslop and multi-award-winning performance designer and artist Rowan Pierce. As a tribute to Bianca’s grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s, Pōhutu reflects on her story, and the human experience that navigates time, memory, place and loss.

Resample Tatauis an ambitious new work from award-winning creative producer and extraordinary sound artist Anonymouz. Drawing inspiration from his personal journey of receiving his tatau, Anonymouz will present audio recordings of the tapping and spatial ambience, as well as projecting imagery of the tatau process and his ancestral lands.

The legendary and compelling master of rap–jazz fusion, Tom Scott, is back to perform another show in the capital with Avantdale Bowling Club, after his sell-out headline show at the 2020 Wellington Jazz Festival.

Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintingsis a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view one of the world’s pioneers of 20th-century abstract art. Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint’s work changed the course of art history, but remained hidden from view for decades. This exhibition at City Gallery Wellington features over 100 paintings, including The Ten Largestwhich are a towering three-plus metres tall.

Threads Textiles Festivalbrings together visual artists, galleries and museums for a five-day programme of exhibitions, talks, tours and workshops spanning the city’s cultural icons.

Locations include The Dowse Art Museum, Katherine Manfield House and Garden, Jhana Millers and more.

The Writers Programme spans four weeks, featuring over 70 talks by world-class writers in conversation in Wellington, and some live streaming from cities such as London and New York City. Covering topics from art to economics and everything in between, this extensive programme caters to Festival goers across the board.

The line-up features some of Aotearoa’s most acclaimed writers including the renowned Patricia Grace and multiple award-winner Elif Shafak, Olivia Laing and Booker Prize shortlisted author Patricia Lockwood. Another highlight will be a conversation with Dr Rangi Matamua and HUIA Publisher Brian Morris on Mātauranga Māori. The discussion will centre on the role of Mātauranga Māori in a fast-changing world, and how indigenous cultural knowledge is inextricable from science. These celebrated authors join headliners Mariana Mazzucato, N.K. Jemisin and Clementine Ford.

Tungia Tahia Festival, the festival-within-a-festival returns to Porirua as a celebration of the creativity and artistry of Aotearoa’s taiohi (young people) In the opening Festival week, the voices, approaches and communities of Aotearoa’s young leaders are brought to the forefront through music, movement and toi Māori.

Just in time for the summer holidays, Destination Marsinvites Festival audiences to head to outer space where they will experience a high stakes mission set on the planet Mars in the year 2034. Opening on 11 December at Te Papa, this high-tech yet full of heart immersive experience is made for grown-ups and intrepid kids aged six and above.

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita says next year’s Festival is defined by artists with incredible skill, boundless imagination and artistic bravery.

“Exploring the most current ideas and emotions of our time in performances and installations from the perfectly sublime to the spectacular, the Festival programme covers everything from the classical canon to cutting edge live art. These extraordinary artists will challenge and inspire you, as well as bring us all great joy.”

For the full programme please visit festival.nz

By the numbers:

125 shows

29 free events

850 performers

*Formerly New Zealand Festival of the Arts. The name and brand has been updated for 2022 and including Aotearoa in the title of the New Zealand Festival of the Arts is a contribution to the bicultural evolution of our national culture and identity through the presence of Te Reo Māori. 

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