Creativity, arts and culture will take centre stage across the Wairarapa this October thanks to a diverse range of events being offered during the Kokomai Creative Festival, proudly supported by Trust House and Provincial Insurance.

More than 65 events across the fields of music, theatre, dance, visual arts, film and literature will be held at various venues including rural halls, churches, the Carterton Event Centre and parks from October 13 – 22nd 2017.

The Festival programme was launched with great fanfare tonight at The White Swan in Greytown by festival director Heidi Holbrook and chairman of the Wairarapa Arts Festival Trust, Bob Francis. After a colourful live performance by drag legends of One Night Only, the pair told invited guests they were excited to bring national and international acts to the region. 

“This year’s world class programme brings top New Zealand performers, artists and writers to the Wairarapa, alongside international artists from Germany, Switzerland, USA, Australia, Canada and Ireland,’ said Ms Holbrook. “Compiling the programme has taken two years of work – we wanted to make sure we have the best acts this October and we can proudly say we do.” 

Kokomai opens Friday, 13th October with the innovative and beautiful show Valerie, supported by GT Environmental and Woodnet, and the Aotearoa drag legends of One Night Only – both being performed at the Carterton Events Centre. 

Following this is a packed weekend including a free community event - The Capital E Bloom Garden, presented by Jennian Homes. This creative experience for children and their families is being held in three locations - the Greytown Town Hall Square, Martinborough Town Square and Masterton Town Hall Square and will see kids use thousands of identical pink pieces of plastic to make whatever they wish. 

“This is about letting children’s’ imaginations run wild and giving them a chance to connect, construct and deconstruct 3D installations with no rules,” says Ms Holbrook. “It’s a great way to introduce children to sculpture and design.”

Other festival highlights include Otto and Astrid: Eurosmash! The Sign Factory and Printing.Com have brought this hilarious Princess and Prince of Art Rock and Europop from Germany to Carterton and it’s expected to appeal to fans of Spinal Tap or Flight of the Conchords. At the other end of the spectrum is Julia Deans show “The Saddest Songs in the Universe”. The kiwi songstress, who sold out 2015’s festival with the show Both Sides Now, will return alongside leading kiwi musician SJD, thanks to the support of Lamb Peters in Greytown. 

The Pirinoa Community Hall will host the comedy, The Ballad of Blackbone Joe, a daft and gruesome tale of a murder set in a small country town accompanied by rag‘n’bone live music. It will also be performed in the Tinui Memorial Hall thanks to support from businesses Eastwood Motorgroup, PGG Wrightsons and Sargent Motorcycles.

Another highlight will be Paeakua, The Opera which is a unique combining of classical voice, traditional Maori singing, and Te Reo Maori and English narration to an electric guitar and taonga puoro soundscape. It was commissioned by the Wairarapa Arts Festival Trust specifically for Kokomai 2017 and performed by Greytown soprano Holly Winterwood and Zac Winterwood.

During tonight’s launch, Mr Francis said that the third running of Kokomai will bring huge benefits to the community. 

“The inaugural Kokomai festival was held in 2013 and since then support for the event has grown significantly. During Kokomai 2015 we had 5000 people enjoy the entertainment and this year we are looking to grow those numbers further. With the support of our sponsors, patrons, volunteers, our organising team and our audiences, Kokomai 2017 promises to delight.”

Mr Francis said there were still opportunities for individuals, local businesses or sponsors to be involved in the Festival including becoming a Friend of the Festival, volunteering or attending the events.

The full programme is available at www.kokomai.co.nz or via Facebook/kokomaicreativefestival. Tickets are available from the Wellington and Wairarapa i-SITES and through www.eventfinda.co.nz from 9am on Friday, 8th September.