Tauranga Arts Festival is in full swing as more than 30 events take place over the next week. Bay of Plenty Times reporter Jean Bell had a chat to three people behind the events she is looking forward to most.

A Synthesised Universe
Performed By Anthonie Tonnon with Erica Sklenars
Today, 8pm at the Carrus Crystal Palace

Anthonie Tonnon's appearance at the Tauranga Arts Festival is somewhat of a homecoming.

The Dunedin-raised indie rock artist was born at Tauranga Hospital before migrating down south when he was 3 months old.

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Tonnon says he is excited to bring "A Synthesised Universe" to Tauranga for the first time.

Anthonie Tonnon will perform in A Synthesised Universe. Photo / Supplied
Anthonie Tonnon will perform in A Synthesised Universe. Photo / Supplied

He describes the show as an "immersive visual experience with songs". A narrative winds itself around the songs, breaking out of the traditional music gig with an ordered setlist, while multiple projectors will be used to create holograms and 3D visuals, thanks to installation artist Erica Sklenars, aka Lady Lazerlight.

The work was originally developed for a planetarium where Tonnon worked with animator Andrew Charlton and Otago Museum.

He has performed regularly in bars but found he had grown tired of the setting so started putting on shows in art galleries and museums.

One thing led to another and he ended up working on what became A Synthesised Universe.

Cellfish
Written By Jason Te Kare, Miriama McDowell and Rob Mokaraka
Starring Jason Te Kare and Carrie Green
Monday 1pm and Tuesday, 8.30pm at the X Space in Baycourt

Writer, actor and former director of Cellfish, Jason Te Kare is no stranger to the themes of Māori incarceration that run through the insightful play in which hardened inmates grapple with Shakespeare classes in prison.

His mother ran a halfway house for runaway kids so he grew up surrounded by the trauma caused by imprisonment. But his childhood experiences, aside from offering him insights that come through in the play, conjure up warm memories.

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"I feel like I've got so many brothers and sisters I grew up with," he says. "While I can't speak for all places, it's not all doom and gloom."

Jason Te Kare is a co-writer and actor in Cellfish. Photo / Supplied
Jason Te Kare is a co-writer and actor in Cellfish. Photo / Supplied

While the play explores some intense topics, a lot of laughter and fun comes through.

"There is a lot of trauma and harm and all these dark aspects of humanity within the work, but in order for that stuff to hit home with the audience you need the other side to balance that out."

"We focus on the playful silliness to make those really dark moments hit home."

Money Talks: Rich Enough
Speaker event with award-winning journalist Mary Holm
November 3, 9am at the X Space, Baycourt

"Money does not buy happiness."

It might be a cliche but it is the important nugget of research-backed wisdom that is at the centre of Mary Holm's 2018 book Rich Enough? A Laid-Back Guide For Every Kiwi.

"We all kind of know this but I think we forget about it," she says.

"It all sounds like lovely fluffy stuff but in fact it's really true."

The best-selling book in New Zealand lays out money in simple terms for everyday folk.

"I don't use jargon, I don't use money terms. I don't assume people know anything really," she says. "It is written for ordinary people."

Finance journalist Mary Holm will speak at the festival. Photo / Supplied
Finance journalist Mary Holm will speak at the festival. Photo / Supplied

The book is the result of years of looking at research on the connection between wealth and happiness for a number of years.

The research shows that once a person is out of poverty and in a comfortable financial position, having more money decreases happiness levels.

"This could be because they wonder about what to do with that money, they tend to be working really hard and not socialising enough," she said.

"They also tend to be more status-conscious and get into competitions with their friends around who has got the best car."