The Arts Are Back – Te Ahurei Toi O Tāmaki / Auckland Arts Festival Announces Programme For March 2022

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021 02:14 PM
Giant inflatable humanoids, Māori feminist cabaret, Pasifika musical theatre, The Topp Twins, acoustic opera, events for tamariki, a secular Requiem, His Holiness, Unruly Tourists, kanikani and more. Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki / Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) - with all the joy it brings - is back.
The 2022 festival programme, announced today, brings 80 individual events, including eight new commissions, 14 world premieres, seven New Zealand premieres and over 700 artists to Tāmaki Makaurau, and arts-lovers back together, from 10 to 27 March 2022.
Artistic Director Shona McCullagh MNZM says, “Our festival is an opportunity to celebrate creativity and expression of culture and identity as people of Aotearoa, and to share illuminating experiences together. After extended lockdowns with far too much screen time and isolation, and in a growing age of individualism, the arts are a vital portal to expand our minds, connect and grow our understanding and appreciation of each other and our differences.
“With Truth as a curatorial lens and theme for our 2022 Festival, we acknowledge our many voices, many worlds and perspectives. Artists are powerful antennae of societal dynamics and the zeitgeist – the soothsayers and courageous truth tellers. Our 2022 festival is a platform to uplift artists from all over Aotearoa and beyond, creating a truly rich and diverse offering for audiences to listen to, engage with, participate in and, above all, enjoy,” McCullagh says.
After a smash success at AAF 2021, The Civic Club returns in 2022 with a lineup of music, comedy and cabaret that includes imugi , Hans. and Teremoana Rapley; a TRUTHBOMBS comedy series featuring The Topp Twins, Pax Assadi and James Nokise; opera performer Deborah Wai Kapohe who returns with a fresh look at the 19th century practice of self-accompanying operatic arias with guitar; and global piano superstar Josh Cohen playing his famous Radiohead interpretations. Also at The Civic is the Festival’s major cabaret extravaganza, Truth and Lies, which features aerialists, B-boys, burlesque and a live band starring Brady Peeti.
The Festival’s resplendent Town Hall music series sees Whirimako Black perform alongside a group of the country’s best Māori Jazz performers in He Kōpara; Troy Kingi, Rio Hemopo, Dallas Tamaira and L.A. Mitchell pay homage to the soul legend in the Bill Withers Social Club; global dream pop superstars BROODS; a fusion of deeply rich jazz riffs with rap vocals and a killer hip-hop production with Tom Scott’s Avantdale Bowling Club; and a major classical concert that sees the world premiere of Victoria Kelly’s new secular Requiem as well as Ruby Solly’s new composition for taonga puoro and orchestra alongside opera stars Simon O’Neill and Jane Tankersley, all featuring the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Theatre works are performed in te reo Māori, Mandarin and English. Trick of the Light Theatre’s Lysander’s Aunty, in partnership with Auckland Theatre Company and Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, will be a highlight. As will the hilarious, bilingual ‘Chinese Spy Comedy’ Sky Duck from Australian-based New Zealander Sam Wang. Mitch Tawhi Thomas’ latest work, Pakaru, is a gutsy portrayal of whānau and motherhood produced by Tanea Heke (Witi’s Wāhine); and Adelaide’s Patch Theatre Company, led by lighting designer Geoff Cobham, brings a brilliant and illuminating show for tamariki, ZOOOM.
From contemporary dance to ballet, McCullagh has again pulled together a spectacular dance programme which, this year, unites some of the best dancers in the country and two men who have never danced before. Untrained, by globally renowned Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin and restaged by NZ Arts Laureate Ross McCormack, presents two highly skilled male contemporary dancers and two first-timers in a show that is a brilliant experiment in masculinity and courage. Melting Pot is a showcase of short works by Freshmans Dance Crew and guest artists which merges hip hop, street dance, spoken word and contemporary dance. Michael Parmenter’s sold-out 2021 event, The Full Moon Folk Ball returns and, due to extreme demand, has been given a bigger venue in 2022 - the Auckland Town Hall. Sarah Foster-Sproull’s choreography features in two Festival works - the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Venus Rising and the highly anticipated world premiere of Double Goer.
Kaihautū Māori Ataahua Papa says, “Our Toitū Te Reo programme is again integrated into all aspects of the festival with the aim of normalising te reo Māori and ensuring it is seen and heard every day of our festival. This year’s programme of Māori artists, from aged 10 to 60+, delivers waiata, dance, theatre, opera, cabaret, kapa haka, comedy, and kōrero, and ensures Māori creatives are supported under the mantle of manaakitanga.”
Waiwhakaata - Reflections in the Water is a new Auckland Arts Festival commission which combines contemporary dance, explosive and innovative physical theatre, taonga puoro and kōrero tuku iho to deliver a story of hope and reconnection starring this year’s youngest performer - ten-year-old dancer Lezharn Avia-Elliott.
AAF 2022 opens with Tātou, Tātou E! - a massive, free, sing-along. MC Pere Wihongi and musician Maaka Pohatu will lead the Aotea Square crowd in well-known waiata including ‘Pōkarekare Ana’, ‘Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi’, ‘E Pāpā Waiari’ and Six60’s ‘Pepeha’.
Chief Executive David Inns says, “We are in the business of live performance, joy, connection, creativity and laughter - elements which have been lost in many ways here in Tāmaki Makaurau in recent months. We, along with our wider arts sector colleagues, are in a time where support and sponsorship of the arts is more important than ever. We are grateful for the tautoko from all our 2022 sponsors and partners, whose support allows us to continue creating this huge celebration of the arts that our community looks forward to so much each year.”
The festival’s 2022 whānau of supporters and sponsors include Auckland Council, Creative New Zealand, Colenso BBDO, Todd Corporation and Evans Randall, and NZME, along with major funder Foundation North. Partnerships include Auckland Live, Auckland Theatre Company, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal New Zealand Ballet, New Zealand Opera, Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, Auckland War Memorial Museum, The New Zealand Dance Company, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Te Pou Theatre and Silo Theatre.
AAF 2022 runs from 10 to 27 March at venues and locations across Tāmaki Makaurau, as well as some online presentations of international work. Early Bird discounts are available on most shows and events until Thursday 6 Jan. More info below and at
Images: Here
The 2022 Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki / Auckland Arts Festival programme includes (in alphabetical order):
A Stab in the Dark: Sit back, and don’t relax, as this new play from Nightsong, the creators of award-winning Te Pō, takes you on a wickedly funny, suspenseful, and unpredictable ride. Starring Joel Toebeck, this is theatre anyone would kill to see.
Alatini: The mega-hitmakers behind Sinarella and The Wizard of Ōtāhuhu reimagine Aladdin with signature South Auckland flavour. A magical mash-up of a musical that will make you laugh, warm your heart, and fill you with pride.
Anthology of Truth: The festival closes with a dynamic group of musicians and vocalists delivering a collection of moving songs that make you think, feel and groove.
Aro Music - He Wai: The whole whānau will enjoy the playful and interlocking vocals of Emily and Charles of Aro in this collection of waiata celebrating the marine life that live in the waters off the coasts of this beautiful country, along with award-nominated waiata about our native birdlife.
ArteFact: How to Behave in a Museum: NZ Arts Laureate Ross McCormack has drawn inspiration from the people who work at Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, from the visitor hosts to the security team, to create this whimsical, world premiere dance work.
Ata Koia!: Newly commissioned artworks woven from the wind and stars, colours that slip from the horizon and images that saturate our imagination. Artists from Aotearoa and abroad exhibit at Te Tuhi.
Avantdale Bowling Club: “Irrelevant jazz from an island nation off the coast of Antarctica” - Tom Scott.
Bill Withers Social Club: A supergroup of top vocalists - Troy Kingi, Rio Hemopo, and L.A. Mitchell and an all-star band – perform an ode to a singer-songwriter whose stories of love, hardship, friendship, and whānau have shaped a generation of Aotearoa musicians and touched the world.
BLKCITY presents: The Diaspora: New Zealand’s hottest African hip-hop supergroup brings together some of the most respected names in the local hip-hop scene, for a vibrant, positive expression of music and identity.
BROODS: The 10-time Aotearoa Music Awards-winning act who have amassed over one billion streams, collaborated with Lorde and Tove Lo, toured with HAIM and Taylor Swift, and performed at Coachella and Lollapalooza, will take the stage.
Daughter of a Housegirl: A world premiere collection of thoughtfully curated songs, more than 30 years in the making, by self-described “Black Moana Sovereign Storyteller”, Teremoana Rapley.
Deafinitely True: Too many people view deafness as a deficiency rather than a separate linguistic context and worldview. This panel discussion will be delivered entirely in New Zealand Sign Language, and interpreted into spoken English.
Declaration: A Pacific Feminist Agenda: Artists in this exhibition, curated by Ane Tonga and showing at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, declare a new set of principles to form a Pacific feminist agenda and map a feminist trajectory in contemporary feminist art.
Double Goer: A surreal work by New Zealand choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull which comprises visual art, intricate costume design, a hand-painted set, and puppetry.
Fantastic Planet: An enormous installation of giant humanoids by artist Amanda Parer will land in three locations across the city.
Full Moon Folk Ball: A sold-out highlight from the 2021 Festival, the social dance event of the year - led by New Zealand dance legend Michael Parmenter - returns. This time it’s in the Town Hall.
He Kōpara: An evening of sublime music to open the Festival with class and style. One of the most distinctive soul singers in Aotearoa – Whirimako Black – performs with Allana Goldsmith and Leon Wharekura, directed by Dixon Nacey.
Home Truths: Join Jack Tame in conversation with Whatitiri, Carmen Parahi, Barbara Dreaver and Patrick Gower as they investigate how the media has come to terms with their own attitudes and practices in order to discuss race and racism.
I Want You to Act: Join Jack Tame as he brings together politician Chlöe Swarbrick, scientist Bronwyn Hayward and indigenous activist Tiana Jakicevich to interrogate the status of our global warming response.
Ihirangaranga: Taonga puoro, live music, spoken word, and real-time painting in a multimedia performance that draws upon cultural concepts to transport the audience to another dimension.
imugi and Hans.: Sensational duo imugi and buzzing Kiwi-Korean rapper Hans. share the stage for a double-bill of silky smooth electronic pop and laid-back, feel-good hip-hop.
John Cohen Radiohead for Solo Piano: Master of improvisation, New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based pianist Josh Cohen takes on legendary rock band Radiohead in this live show of idiosyncratic covers from the group’s famous back catalogue – interpretations that have gone viral on YouTube with more than eight million views and counting.
Jonathan Bree: The masked maverick and co-founder of The Brunettes makes a rare appearance in Tāmaki Makaurau, debuting new songs and crowd favourites, before departing for a European tour.
Kava Corner (Live) with MELODOWNZ: Gather around the tanoa with Poet, MC, rapper and YouTube sensation MELODOWNZ as he welcomes you to the circle with his online sensation Kava Corner live on The Civic Club stage.
Kōpū: The songs of young wāhine Māori as they navigate this world, hairy nipples first, in the footsteps of their naughty nannies from the kāuta. A cheeky ballad of show.
Labyrinth: Artists Erica Duthie and Struan Ashby install a beautifully detailed Labyrinth in an outdoor space for families to enjoy.
Legacy Vogue Ball: Featuring the leading exponents of the vogue ballroom movement, this is a spectacle of fashion, wild choreography and outrageous attitude.
Live Live Cinema: Night of the Living Dead: George Romero’s 1968 cult classic like you’ve never experienced it before: live and in the flesh - two actors perform just about everything you see and hear with a new original score by Leon Radojkovic.
Lontalius: Spend an intimate evening with the talented Wellington singer-songwriter also known as Eddie Johnston
Lysander's Aunty: Trick of the Light have done it again. Retaining the madness and magic of the original A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this humorous re-work in partnership with Auckland Theatre Company and Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts is a riotous clash of youth and middle age, of urban and rural identity, of conformity and rebellion…all played out in the NZ bush.
Mark Work: Spanning the fields of contemporary jewellery, architecture, design and painting, Mark Work features six artists whose work communicates across form and discipline.
Melting Pot: A showcase of short works by Freshmans Dance Crew plus guest choreographers, musicians, designers and spoken word artists which merges hip hop / street dance, contemporary dance, physical theatre, haka and pacific movement with a soundtrack of chart toppers, throwbacks and originals.
Notes for Tomorrow: An exhibition at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery conceived by Independent Curators International (ICI) featuring artworks selected by 30 curators based in 25 countries.
Pakaru: A gutsy portrayal of whānau and motherhood, Mitch Tawhi Thomas’s multi award-winning play is rooted in heartfelt comedy, brutal honesty, and the enduring human spirit.
Requiem: A brilliant concert with the APO that will touch the soul and lift the spirit. It comprises the world premiere of a rare orchestral and choral work of great beauty and power by Victoria Kelly, the exquisite voices of Simon O’Neill and Jayne Tankersley, and a new composition for taonga puoro and orchestra by Ruby Solly.
Serenades by Deborah Wai Kapohe: Acclaimed soprano Deborah Wai Kapohe returns with a fresh look at the 19th century practice of self-accompanying operatic arias with guitar, along with Broadway hits, waiata reo Māori, and well-known pop songs.
Siva Afi Festival: Watch the night light up with performers of this traditional, exhilarating Samoan art form as they showcase their talents and compete for glory.
Someplace Else: A Travel Archive: Through accumulated travel ephemera and intimate drawings, this long-running project by Louise Stevenson, exhibited at Corban Estate Arts Centre, grapples with poignant shifts in time, culture, and geo-political landscapes.
Skyduck: A Chinese Spy Comedy: Top Gun meets 007 with a J-Pop soundtrack! A brilliant bilingual solo show, written by and starring Sam Wang, which blends lo-fi and high-tech, AV, puppets, musical numbers and a dizzying array of transforming and handmade gadgets.
Smoke and Mirrors: With this new project – a major solo show – artist John Reynolds mixes rainwater with acrylics, gallows humour with dead seriousness, and ponders “are we there yet?”.
Spoken Walls – A City in Verse: Taking inspiration from the Slogans of ‘68 revolution and Phantom Billstickers founder Jim Wilson’s Poems on Posters, Action Education will work with groups of young poets from the four corners of Tāmaki to encourage them to express a positive message of their truth.
Super Special Disability Roadshow: What’s it like to be disabled in 2022? Laugh, cry, and laugh again, in this must-watch singing extravaganza from Disability-led Scotland theatre company, Birds of Paradise.
Tātou, Tātou E!: A massive sing-along in Aotea Square to open the festival. MC Pere Wihongi and musician Maaka Pohatu will lead the crowd in well-known waiata including ‘Pō Karekare Ana’, ‘Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi’, and ‘E Pāpā Waiari’, alongside a new playlist.
Te Kai a te Rangatira: A day of festivity with te reo Māori - an artform in itself - at its centre. Includes a high-powered panel discussion, workshops, Māori arts and crafts market, kai, and more. Taking the opportunity to salute the indigenous language of Aotearoa, this event will be delivered entirely in te reo Māori.
The Dalai Lama’s Inner World: For the first time, songs from the Dalai Lama’s debut album will be performed live as an immersive sensory experience incorporating recordings of His Holiness, lush visuals by Tiffany Singh, and an expansive nine-piece band.
The Mixtape - Live: RNZ’s Music 101 host Charlotte Ryan presents a very special Sunday evening listening party and kōrero with Grammy-winning composer and musician Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords).
The Seasons: Dancers from inclusive dance company Jolt join together with musicians of the Chamber Music NZ, lead by acclaimed violinist Martin Riseley, create an energetic and evocative performance set to Max Richter’s stunning Recomposed.
The Unruly Tourists: In a tale from living memory, a flock of badly-behaved tourists spread a trail of rubbish and fuel a national obsession. A genre-defying comedy opera that will spark conversation long after the curtain goes down.
to fashion: dressing Aotearoa: Twelve distinctive individuals, including poet Tayi Tibble, mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan, and K’ Road chronicler Six have fashioned their personal appearance in a way that expresses their identity for these vibrant life-size portraits by award-winning photographer Edith Amituanai.
Truth Bombs Comedy Series: To celebrate 40 years as performers, the Topp Twins will share the stories behind some of their iconic songs that became the soundtrack to New Zealand’s protest movement of the 1980s, in The Topp Twins - the Art of Protest. Pax Assadi (Comedy - The Essential Service?) and James Nokise (Auckland Sux) will also deliver their truths.
Truth & Lies: Cabaret that dances through the light and shadows of naked truth, bare-faced lies, and the complexity of everything in between. Aerialists and acrobats will challenge you to take flying leaps of faith and suspend your beliefs.
Truth Spoken Truth Heard: A courageous kōrero provides a dose of rongoā for your hinengaro and ngākau on International Race Relations Day.
TRUTHMACHINE: An intimate, playful and intriguing theatre experience for adventurous audience members which uses real biometric sensors and live voting systems.
Two Truths and a Lie: Emerging artists respond to the current atmosphere of misinformation and mistrust. In equal parts light-hearted and ominous, this exhibition recognises the multiverse we live in, in which conflicting truths seemingly coexist.
United for Truth: An interactive, meaningful and participatory art installation lead by Gisborne-based artist Adel Salmanzadeh and created by the community from natural material found on two Auckland beaches.
Untrained: An irreverent and humorous theatrical exploration created by highly respected choreographer Lucy Guerin, lead in Aotearoa by Arts Laureate Ross McCormack and performed by two highly skilled male dancers alongside two who have no movement training at all.
Venus Rising: The Royal New Zealand Ballet performs three extraordinary works by three formidable female choreographers in a generous, glorious celebration of ballet.
Waiwhakaata – Reflections in the Water: Contemporary dance, explosive and innovative physical theatre, taonga puoro, and kōrero tuku iho combine to bring us this story of hope and reconnection.
Waves & Lines: An evening of powerful, deeply felt music, featuring soprano, electronics, and chamber ensemble, inspired by a tradition of Afghan women’s folk poetry by Hamilton-born, New York-based composer Gemma Peacocke.
Wild Once More: Co-curated by Robbie Handcock and Christopher Ulutupu, this exhibition explores moving-image practices from a group of queer artists working in Aotearoa.
ZOOOM: Combining old school whimsy with state of the art technology, ZOOOM from Adelaide’s Patch Theatre Company is the enchanting story of a child who is unable to sleep and befriends a lost star.

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