The Splore Festival programme is polished to perfection and the resplendent Tāpapakanga Regional Park is ready to receive thousands of Splorers, welcomed onto the whenua by Ngāti Paoa and Ngāti Whanaunga with a powhiri on 23 February.
Festival Director John Minty says the stage is set for Splore’s eclectic blend of programming.
“Splore’s uniqueness comes from its lens on Aotearoa’s contemporary culture and it’s not just about Splore’s already announced music programme. It includes top international acts like Sampha and five zones of music, but also encompasses performing arts, sculpture and visual arts, and a wellness area for yoga classes and holistic modalities. We also have zones that hotly debate social issues, and a kids zone”.
The diverse programme of performing arts will culminate in a wild and legendary cabaret on Saturday night. Splore’s annual theme (this year it is Feasty) garners inspiration and audience participation and Saturday night’s show is aptly named Cabaret Devour.
Opening it is Splore’s favourite MC Lizzie Tollemache. She will whip the crowd like a badass cook/wife/thief/lover. Cabaret Devour will be a visual feast of tasty treats and physical feats including a murderous chef, broken glass, a chainsaw, and roller skates. Ropes, backflips, and a sword-swallow – this is a one-night-only show for a reason.
Performance Director Emma Vickers says dance, acrobatics, and nudity are all the ingredients for this feasty show with a finale by House of Coven.
“The audience will – there’s something for everyone and all ages.”
To top it off is a ‘modern-day mutations’ freak show, a full-size circus in the tiniest ‘big top’ you’ve ever seen, and a mermaid suspended high on a beautiful anchor.
The Splore Arts trail provides the viewer with a contemporary art experience. Splore’s visual art programme includes large-scale sculpture works, set amongst majestic pōhutukawa, for the audience to explore day and night. This year acclaimed multi-disciplinary Māori artist Lisa Reihana’s work Ngā Kaikanikani ō te Rangi – Sky Dancers will grace the park. Usually docile and timid, her comical geckos are energetic and fun, adorned with digital tukutuku designs.
Reihana’s work will sit alongside works by Margarita Vovna, Karen Sewell, Simon Holden and Matt Liggins. Collaborative works by Serge Beaulieu and Yelena Filipchuk of HYBYCOZO studio – and Julieanne Eason and Carl Pavletich of Shades Arcade will also feature.
The Splore Listening Lounge returns, this time with journalists Russell Brown and Sarah Daniell co-hosting. This year’s theme is ‘Keep the Change’ and Russell and Sarah will focus on fresh voices and new goals. As ever, Saturday morning’s programme opens with news you can use about drugs and safety, with new Know Your Stuff NZ General Manager Casey Searin. Then it’s Rehekōrero – Slam poetry rangatahi and the Front Line Champions of 2023 Word – the largest Slam poetry event in Aotearoa. Koromiko Jacobs-Williams (Ngati Ranginui), Piremina Ngapera (Te Rararawa, Nga Puhi) and Billy McCarthy (Nga Puhi), will korero on activism and art in poetry and performance. Splore headliner Mr Bruce talks about the politics of music and reinventing himself after losing his musical partner during Covid in 2020. And to close, the two media veterans talk about the state of things with three of the country’s brightest young journalists.
More music has been added to the music programme; Rehekōrero, Oshale Japan, Palestinian Amabassador, Michael Hodgson, Murry Sweetpants, Tysonidero, Patsy Skeet, Matt Rapid, Mack b/b James Murphy, Corysco, Dan Paine, Aleja, Mac Mylo, and Mezmure.
And when the rich array of entertainment gets too much, tap out with a guided meditation session, a musical sound journey or a yoga class in the Wendy’s Wellness zone, programmed all weekend with activities to soothe the soul.