Good vibes, hot sun, cool music and pure love sums up Day One at this weekend's One Love Festival in Tauranga, which kicked off Saturday and continues today.

The sold-out festival, now in its fifth year drew a crowd of 20,000 to Tauranga Domain.

Bay singer Stan Walker set the bar high on social media early in the day, as he was getting ready for the festival, dubbing it "the best reggae festival in Aotearoa", then correcting himself to "the best reggae festival in the world".

The happy buzzed-up crowd seemed to agree, soaking up the sun and settling into the festival with a first day line-up that included tween prodigy General Fiyah, reggae royalty Ky-Mani Marley, Hawaii's Kolohe Kai, and the man himself, Stan Walker.


With soaring temperatures up to 27 degrees, the water jets were the hardest workers in town.

The haze of heat mingled with rising smoke clouds and heady scents, and a sea of hats danced and sang into the night.

Thirteen-year old Lotima Nicholas-better known as General Fiyah dazzled in a Versace-inspired outfit, and his infectious energy lit up the afternoon with social media star William Waiirua and a slew of young fans cheering him on stage. A star is born!

Ky-Mani-Marley. Photo. Reef Reid
Ky-Mani-Marley. Photo. Reef Reid

When Jamaican hip hop and reggae singer Ky-Mani Marley took the stage, it was as if the crowd drew a collective breath of awe as though Bob Marley himself was there in spirit.

A superb performer in his own right, Ky-Mani, who after all called his debut album 'Like Father Like Son', never fails to acknowledge and celebrate his blood connection and culture.

You heard it in all of his songs, but especially in his moving and uplifting performance of Is This Love which had everyone united singing "Is this love that I'm feeling".

A high energy performance from Kiwi chart-topping sensation Stan Walker reminded us just what a first class performer he is, with a heartfelt rendition of I'd Rather Go Blind mixed in with his own hits, Take It Easy, a crowd pumping Aotearoa.

Stan Walker on stage at One Love. Photo Reef Reid
Stan Walker on stage at One Love. Photo Reef Reid

A rousing performances of Messages , reminded us he is so much more than the Little Black Box that made him famous, and which he also played as a crowd pleaser.


Looking relaxed, fit and happy in an orange linen shirt, with freshly bleached blonde hair, an upbeat Walker, who went through highly publicised health issues last year, showed us he was back, better than ever and 2019 is going to be his year.

Walker paid tribute to his photographer girlfriend Alex, acknowledging they had been together for more than a year, as well as his beloved mother April, who accompanied him on stage, as Walker told the crowd to appreciate all the mums out there.

Continuing the theme of family love, Roman De Peralta, lead singer of Hawaiian reggae band Kolohe Kai, interrupted his set to acknowledge his parents who he had brought to New Zealand for the first time to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary.

Kolohe Kai. Photo: Reef Reid
Kolohe Kai. Photo: Reef Reid

De Peralta told the crowd that he pretended to his mother that he needed her on stage to record him, but that had been a ploy to surprise them, and in a cute moment during the tribute, he hugged her and said "mum you can stop recording now, that was just to get you on stage".

He told the crowd to look out for a February launch of new 12-track album, Summer to Winter, inspired by his experience of coming through depression and hard times.

Then the chatty affable De Peralta then stripped off to his surf gear to play hot hit Cool Down, announcing he was going to try something never done before in New Zealand, surf the crowd on an inflatable.

An initial attempt to launch himself into the crowd seemed to take the chilled-out people in the front rows by surprise, and they dropped him.

No drama, this is One Love after all, the band kept on playing Cool Down while he got back on, and then successfully surfed the wave of crowd love to an Instagram worthy purple sunset over the Bay.

Roman De Peralta of Kohole Kai crowd surfing. Photo: Reef Reid
Roman De Peralta of Kohole Kai crowd surfing. Photo: Reef Reid

International reggae star Fiji, real name George Veikoso, closed day one with a collective show of harmony singing what has become somewhat of a One Love tradition, E Papa Waiari with the crowd.

One Love, One Heart.

Can we do it all again? Yes we can.

The festival continues today with another banging line up including Texas soul singer Latasha Lee, British legend Maxi Priest, crowd favourites Katchafire, and our own Bay locals L.A.B. building up to headline act UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey.

The Line-up Day Two

12pm: Cool Meditation 12.25pm: Latasha Lee 1.05pm: Raging Fyah 2pm: Paua 2.55pm: Tomorrow People 3.50pm: Maxi Priest 4.45pm: Katchafire 5.40pm: The Black Seeds 6.35pm: L.A.B. 7.35pm: Rebel Souljahz 8.50pm: UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey