We’ve launched. We’re off on our way. This time last week, we were filling Baycourt Theatre with colour. Colourful people were chatting to each other, colourful balloons were flying in the air and colourful creative temptations were flying across the curtain.

The Mayor was there. He said a few words, as mayors usually do. Apparently there was some metaphorical arm-twisting that led to an increase in support for this year’s event. Excellent. However it came about, we are grateful. The support of TECT, Creative New Zealand, Tauranga City Council and the wonderful sponsors are helping to make this festival happen, so make sure you smile at them when you see them in the street.

We will open the festival with a specially commissioned waiata which will be sung by the people and accompanied by the colours of the sunrise. I got the shivers when this was announced. How often do we come together as a community and sing? How often do we stop and watch the sunrise? (Apart from those “I climb the mount every day so I can Instagram it” people. Who are inspirational.)

My ears pricked up when I saw Tami Neilson on the screen. She is red hot musical goodness. I was once wandering around at another festival, when I accidentally ended up in the audience of her show. Her voice definitely commanded my attention, but what really captivated me was her humour. And the way she made everyone feel like country was their favourite genre, even if they didn’t really know what it was.

Everyone was intrigued by the LEO show. It combines live performance and video projection to make you rethink the laws of gravity. I’ve been trying my best to explain this one to people. “It looks like he’s lying down but it’s like he’s standing up, and he climbs the walls... and there’s pictures and he’s on the stage too... it’s just going to be cool.” One of those ones where you had to be there. So let’s all be there.

Until next time,


“You’ll be on your way up,

You’ll be seeing great sights,

You’ll join the high flyers

Who soar to high heights...” – Dr Seuss