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Wendt headlines Vitu Pacific Arts Festival

19 December 2006

From Fat Freddy's Drop lead singer to celebrated Samoan novelist, Albert Wendt, the best in Pacific creative arts are lined up to deliver for Vitu Pacific Arts Festival in Christchurch from 31 January to 3 February, 2007.

Dallas Tamaira, also known as Joe Dukie, the lead singer of Fat Freddy's Drop, returns to his hometown of Christchurch to lead the Family Day entertainment at The Arts Centre and perform with Pacific Underground in their show Island Summer at the James Hay Theatre during the festival.

Based at the University of Hawaii, Albert Wendt, who made his mark on New Zealand literature with Sons for the Return Home (1973), and Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979), will make his first appearance at the Vitu festival at the screening of the documentary “The New Oceania: Albert Wendt, writer”, and on an artists panel at Our City O-Tautahi. 

The Vitu Pacific Arts Festival is being hosted again by performing arts collective Pacific Underground, whose festival director, Tanya Muagututi'a says, “Once again Pacific artists are showing how much they love the festival and Christchurch.”
Artist Michel Tuffery will again host a Pacific Arts trail - a walking art tour in the city examining artworks at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery as well as local dealer galleries.

Tuffery is part of a select group of artists who have been artists in residence at the MacMillan Brown Centre of Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury. To mark the 10-year anniversary of this artist-in-residence programme, exhibitions, workshops and artists panels will be held at Our City-Otautahi during the festival.

Back again is the comedy duo, The Laughing Samoans, with their new show “Off Work” that has toured the Cook Islands and Sydney, receiving excellent reviews.

Adding to the musical harmony will be world champion barbershop quartet Musical Island Boys from Wellington, Pasifika reggae band from Dunedin ‘Koile’, and popular local acts, Tribalincs, Que, Ebony Fields, and Common Ground who will also take part in lunchtime concerts in Cathedral Square, the Arts Centre and Dux de Lux.

 “This is the only festival in the South Island that can give our citizens, visitors, and tourists a real taste of the Pacific, in traditional and contemporary art forms.  That's why it's so unique.” Ms Muagututi'a said.

With Christchurch City Council having approved a new Event Strategy last week, the Vitu Festival’s usual events funding was reallocated, reducing this year’s Council funding by about $7000. Festival organisers Pacific Underground encouraged many of its colleagues, friends and supporters to get involved in the public consultation process that informed the new Events Strategy.  

“We enjoy bringing artists from all over the Pacific to our home town, so it’s up to us to work with Council for an improved delivery of our events and their services” says Ms Muagututi’a.  “We’ve already gained in-house support from Council through the Leisure, Events and Communications units, and are looking at being involved in more events next year.”

Funding has come from other sources to make up some of the $7000 loss with grants from Creative New Zealand, the Canterbury Community Trust, Christchurch City Council Community Development, and in-house support from the City Council’s leisure, events and communications units.

For young people there will be urban street wear from NZ ex-pat, Sydney based FOBSTA label that has Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and Wellington. Martin Gray will be in Christchurch for the Family Day on Saturday 3 Feb.

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