Christchurch Arts Festival

The biennial Christchurch Arts Festival brings a mix of performances to Ōtautahi. The 2019 Christchurch Arts Festival runs from Friday 26 July to Sunday 4 August. We are highlighting some Festival events and activities. Venues include The Piano and Christchurch Town Hall.
Browse the full festival programme to see all the events, concerts, activities, and exhibitions.

Christchurch Arts Festival reviews

Read our previews and reviews:

Wild dogs under my skirt (Thursday 25 July, Friday 26 July, and Saturday 27 July 7pm)

Read Jane's review of Thursday's performance.

This deeply personal, multi-award winning work by Christchurch's Tusiata Avia has delighted, shocked and seduced audiences all around the world, and now it's coming home to Ōtautahi. This stunning piece is now a six-woman show, produced by NZ theatre taonga Victor Rodger and Anapela Polata'ivao is the award-winning director.

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt


A Winter's Tale and Pōwhiri - Free Theatre and Matapopore (Friday 26 July 5pm, and Saturday 27 July 6pm)
Free, no bookings required

The 2019 Festival opens with A Winter's Tale & Pōwhiri – a free public event that over two nights will see Oxford Terrace and Ōtākaro, the Avon River transformed into a carnival of street-party revelry – featuring light, sound, music and performance. The opening pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony) is on Friday 26 July at 5pm and will feature the traditional call of a kaikaranga – the first voice to be heard will be Matapopore’s Aroha Reriti-Crofts – followed by kapa haka group Te Pao a Tahu, who will explore traditional Ngāi Tahu narratives through song. Nau mai tauti mai!

From 6pm on both nights, Oxford Terrace will be transformed as lively Shakespearean scenes are presented by giant puppets, against a backdrop of colour, movement and skyscraping video projections. The event will be book-ended by two stages, one near the Bridge of Remembrance and the other by the new Riverside complex. 


What a fool honesty is - WORD Christchurch (Wednesday 31 July 7.30pm)

Clare's preview of What a fool honesty is!
Clare's review of What a fool honesty is!

Gather around the metaphorical fireside as five speakers dig deep into the nature of honesty and deception. Whether it’s making up stories for a living, mining their own lives for material, or dealing in facts – where does truth end and fiction begin? Featuring dancer Rodney Bell, writer Fiona Farrell, journalist Donna Miles-Mojab, playwright Victor Rodger and poet and youth advocate Daisy Speaks this is a night for tall tales and home truths.


Meremere (Thursday 1 August 7pm, Friday 2 August 1pm and 7pm, Saturday 3 August 7pm)

Andrew's preview of Meremere
Andrew reviews Meremere

This compelling, award-winning piece shares the extraordinary survival story of critically-acclaimed integrated performer, Rodney Bell, Ngāti Maniapoto. Developed in collaboration with director Malia Johnston and Movement of the Human, Meremere layers documentary footage, interviews, movement and imagery into an extraordinary 54 minutes, which includes live music from the supremely talented, Eden Mulholland.


Onepū (Friday 2 August 7pm)

Read Kate's preview of Onepū.
Kate's review of Onepū.

From Māori dance company Atamira, comes this epic expression of mana wahine – the intrinsic spiritual power of women.

Onepū is inspired by a Kāi Tahu tradition, as told by Teone Taare Tikao about six atua wahine (female deities/ancestors) who have the enormous power of controlling and releasing the winds of the world.


Manaaki: Ngāi Tahu Art exhibition - Matapopore (Thursday 1 August, Friday 2 August, and Saturday 3 August from 10am)
Free, no bookings required

Matapopore Charitable Trust partners with The Christchurch Arts Festival to present karanga, waiata, kapa haka, art, kai, storytelling and rongoā to showcase the cultural narratives and values Matapopore has been working to embed within the rebuild of our city. This exhibition will feature artworks of 10 Ngāi Tahu artists who have been involved with Christchurch rebuild projects since 2013. Situated in the rear of the Town Hall foyer, the artworks will include raranga, jewellery, paintings, carving, prints and sculpture.


Meet me at The Dog House (Saturday 3 August)

Read Moata's preview of Meet me at The Dog House
Read Moata's review of Meet me at The Dog House

Back in the day, when it was 3am and the last bus had gone, the 24-hour burger joint in Cathedral Square – aka: The Dog House – was the final stop before heading home; a place as familiar to Pacific Underground as Otākaro, the Avon River.

Fast forward 25 years, for the jam of all jams! Yup, Pacific Underground are bringing the whānau back together to celebrate their groundbreaking legacy of giving Pacific communities a voice through music, drama and the arts.

Led by Pos Mavaega alongside core members Tanya Muagututi'a and Chris Searle, special guests will include Steve Apirana, Joe Tamaira, Dallas Tamaira (of Fat Freddys Drop), Brent Park (Parks), Mara TK, Mark Vanilau, Sarah Tamaira (Voodoo Child) and Richie Mills (DJ Pause).

This is a tribute to urban roots, local icons and the underground sound that nurtured so many of Aotearoa's brightest Pasifika gems.


Browse the full Christchurch Arts Festival programme.

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