When the 2021 Tauranga Arts Festival programme was met with applause, laughter and delight, artistic director Gabrielle Vincent was relieved.
This is the first time Vincent has curated the city's biennial festival and the programme was launched on Thursday night in front of a large audience.
"I think it's a great programme but the truth of that is only known when it goes in front of the ticket-buying public. Fortunately, everyone at the launch seemed to be as charmed by the works as I was when selecting them."
Vincent described the programme's overall tenor as "joyous", something she felt was important as Covid-19 continued to affect our daily lives, with a strong sense of community also running through the festival.
Some of the highlights includes New News News which will see Mount Maunganui Primary School students morph into journalists to broadcast to a potential audience of millions from Baycourt Community and Arts Centre on October 30 and 31.
The show, aimed at adults and recorded in front of a studio audience, was devised in Britain as a way to teach people to look again at where they live and the stories they tell about it. It is making its debut in New Zealand.
Other programme highlights include theatre for all ages, including "Owls Do Cry", music ranging from contemporary New Zealand compositions for flute/ taonga pūoro to shows by Che Fu, The Beths and Tami Neilson, a speaker programme including novelist Witi Ihimaera, former politician Margaret Wilson and personal finance expert Mary Holm, and workshops, including romance writing and working with textiles.
The popular Tauranga Fringe also returns to the Historic Village on October 23 with one highlight being a workshop with Kiwi K-Pop choreography star Rina Chae that culminates in a Dance Play finale.
For the 10 days and nights of the festival only, the specially commissioned soundscape "Te Manawataki o Mauao", composed by Riki Gooch, will be available to anyone using the Mauao base track or climbing the mountain. Simply download the free Sonicity app, plug headphones into your smartphone and walk. Geolocators will do the rest.
Gooch said the composition would reveal itself in different ways, depending on the direction the listener is moving.
"I didn't want the music to interfere with the natural sound world," he said, "so it's like a meditation for the ocean, air and trees in the wind."
Vincent said she was thrilled to be able to offer such a unique festival event to anyone with a smartphone.
"Mauao is an iconic part of the Tauranga landscape.
"Just as the festival has become a much-loved calendar event. Bringing the two together is going to be magic."
Tauranga Arts Festival takes place from October 21-31. See the full programme at
taurangafestival.co.nz. Earlybird prices apply to most shows until September 5.