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First Events Announced for the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts


The first events announced for the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts will enable audiences to voyage to the future; connect to histories, land and spiritual realms; and meet writers from around the globe.

Running every two years since 1986, Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts is the nation’s largest celebration of cutting-edge arts experiences based in the Wellington region.

The Festival’s early announcements give audiences a taste of what to expect in an adapted programming approach responding to Covid-19, which includes extended seasons running right across the summer, more large-scale Aotearoa New Zealand-made experiences than ever before, and the appointment of an acclaimed Artist in Focus, visual artist Lisa Reihana NZOM, who is bringing a major series of free works to the Festival.

“Our aim was to create an extraordinary Festival for extraordinary times,” says Executive Director Meg Williams.

“Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts creates a space for you, your friends, whānau and community. Space to experience an emotional journey, to discover more about yourself and others, and to come together through the arts.”

Headlining the programme is internationally acclaimed visual artist, Lisa Reihana, who is the Artist in Focus for the 2022 Festival.

Since the 1990s Reihana has significantly influenced the development of New Zealand contemporary art and contemporary Māori art.

In 2014, she was named an Arts Laureate by the Arts Foundation and awarded the Te Tohu Toi Kē Te Waka Toi Maori Arts Innovation Award in 2015.

In Pursuit of Venus

In the 2018 New Year Honours, Lisa was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to art.

In great demand since showcasing her large-scale video installation, in Pursuit of Venus, at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Lisa has been commissioned around the world from Australia to Europe and everywhere in between culminating in one of her biggest works for the famous shoemaker Christian Louboutin, which was closed due to Covid just after opening last year.

A Leader Partner of the Festival since 2010, Weta Digital is honoured to be partnering with Lisa Reihana and helping to bring her dynamic and evocative programme to Wellingtonians and all those experiencing her exhibitions.

Mere Boynton, Director Ngā Toi Māori says: “Lisa is one of our seminal artists and we are proud to give her the platform she deserves as one of the country’s most prolific visual artists and as the Festival’s Artist in Focus.”

With more new works by Aotearoa New Zealand artists than ever before, audiences can expect to be transported to other worlds and times whilst remaining grounded in this special place we call home.

Audiences of all ages can head to outer space this summer in the immersive arts experience Destination Mars.

The latest interactive encounter by HACKMAN, makers of the hugely popular APOLLO 13: Mission Control, this 45-minute experience is a high stakes space mission set on the planet Mars in the year 2034, in a giant dome environment.

Wellington audiences will also 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.

The incident sent ripples through the nation and changed race relations forever.

Crafted by award-winning film-maker and theatre director Katie Wolfe, The Haka Party Incident is verbatim theatre that innovatively combines documentary and kapa haka to thrilling effect.

In BELLE – A performance of air, transformation is created with light, as the performers disappear and reappear like magic.

The Haka Party Incident

Running at TSB Arena across nine days, audiences will share the space with performers, moving around the venue bathed in light to experience aerobatics, dance and sound from multiple perspectives.

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita says the Festival celebrates artists exploring the most compelling ideas of our time in truly innovative and exciting ways.

“As always, the Festival programme is set to challenge and inspire us, as well as bring us great joy. This is just a taste of what’s to come, from sublime moments of the classical canon to the best of the contemporary art world, this programme has been crafted for you.”

Put together by Verb and LitCrawl creator Claire Mabey, the Festival’s Writers Programme this year features a number of world-class writers, some joining the Festival digitally and some in conversation in Wellington.

One of the most influential economists in the world, and the author of Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism, Mariana Mazzucato joins Aotearoa economist Shamubeel Eaqub for a conversation about the future of economics.

Mazzucato will discuss what the future looks like from the vantage point of a global pandemic, the climate crisis, and increasing wealth inequality.

Writer, broadcaster, and feminist Clementine Ford hosts, with New Zealander Emily Writes, an outrageously rich line up of speakers to talk about the profoundly complex, terrifying, transformative state that is love.

Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts will run from the 21st February – 20th March.

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