The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

We might be stuck in New Zealand for a while, but that doesn’t mean the world can’t come to us (especially if they’re rich, apparently). That’s the cool thing about the new exhibition Surrealist Art: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
He Toi Pohewa: He Toi Marupō o Muhiama o Boijmans Van Beuningen. You’ll get a slice of Europe last century and get to get out of the wind of Wellington all at the same time.

The exhibition steps you through Dada first, which was a reaction to the first World War. When things are pretty shit, it’s natural to want to escape into the dreamy and fantastical, right? I think we all experienced that in 2020. Many of the Dada cut & paste abstract journals on display seemed familiar to me – expect I knew them in the ’90s as zines. It was interesting to see the pieces with a more contemporary eye – does a figure with soft “feminised” hips and a penis still seem as shocking now that the Western world is finally waking up to the fact that gender is not binary?

A visitor hears voices of Dada

A visitor hears voices of Dada

But I felt the curation could have guided us a little more for the current context. If the Mae West sofa was originally considered shocking for the art of sitting on lips, what does it mean when it’s on display in a country where the head is considered to be tapu and everyone knows you don’t sit on tables or kitchen benches?

A sofa in the shape of Mae West's lips on display at Te Papa

Salvador Dalí, Mae West Lips Sofa, 1938, wood, woollen flannel, cotton, and brass rivets. ©Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2021. 

Or in the case of the Margritte Mirror digital replication, where you see the back of your head when looking straight in to a mirror, how can that be reinterpreted for the age of selfies?

Four images of the back of Joanna's head, reflected in a fake mirror that is actually a screen

And then what does it mean when I take photos of it taking images of me and share them here?

That’s not the only interactive part of the exhibition. The surrealists were obsessed with dreams, so you’re invited to write down one of your own and file it away in the card catalogue. I was there the day the exhibition opened so the catalogue was empty, but I wonder if reading about other people’s dreams would be as dreary as listening to them can be.

There’s a screened-off room full of the more risqué pieces – a Venus in bondage, a little nudity, a film that was shocking in the 1930s. Legends of Tomorrow fans will even discover Gary’s haunted nipple – perhaps those wacky time travellers are what inspired Duchamp’s Please Touch

As the most famous Surrealist artist, Salvador Dali is at the centre of the exhibition, both metaphorically but also physically, with his four of his dreamy landscapes in their own circular enclosure.This is where I really must recommend that you try to see the exhibition at a quiet time. Take an extended lunch break if you can, or go first thing in the morning on a weekend before others get up. You’ll want time to sink into his hyper-realistic-but-also-not works, and you’ll want the quiet.

Visitor with Dali's Couple With Their Heads Full Of Clouds

Salvador Dalí, Couple with their heads in the clouds, oil on panel, 1936. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Purchase with the support of: the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Foundation, the Rembrandt Association, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the Erasmusstichting and Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht. Photo: Studio Tromp. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2020

The exhibition took me around an hour to get through, by myself and it wasn’t too empty, but I am a fast reader. But if you can make it to the museum on a quiet weekday not in the school holidays, definitely make sure you take yourself through the rest of the art too, and go and bathe in the light of Tiffany Singh’s Indra’s bow & Total internal reflection. That’s got to be good for your vitamin D levels!

Sureallist Art is on until October 31. Adult tickets are $23.50, and concessions are available. Te Papa and the exhibition are wheelchair accessible and their website lists a couple of quieter sessions for visitors with autism or sensory sensitivities, or living with disability.


This year’s United Nations World Refugee Day is on 20 June, and to mark the event the ChangeMakers Resettlement ForumVoice of Aroha, and Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ are hosting the My Life … to Live photo exhibition at the Hub (Victoria University).

The exhibition opening starts at 11am and runs from 11am to 4pm.

The photos and text by Ehsan Hazaveh profile the lives of six refugee background workers who have and who are now trying to make a difference in Aotearoa.

There’ll also be food, drink, performances and discussions. All are welcome!

More info at:
the Facebook event page
ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum info page
Last year’s exhibition photos and text


Honestly I thought they were done but the team at Kia Mau have one more show for us on Saturday June 19.

BLOK PARTY at Meow Bar 

Nau mai, haere mai! Kia Mau Festival presents BLOK PARTY. Join us at Meow Bar with special guest performers DJ DeezNaks, halfqueen & JessB. BLOK PARTY is between 12-4pm on the final day of Kia Mau Festival, easing in music & gigs into the KMF programme.

This is an alcohol-free event.

Astronesian native, DJ DeezNaks aka NahBo, tries on the soundcloud fuckboy aesthetic, is sad about colonisation, then writes beats about it. NahBo is a character designed and embodied by Pōneke-based artist and activist Taranaki Ah Young-Grace, who mixes the sonic aesthetics of neo-soul, indie rap, jazz and trap into an explosive and lyrically subversive experience.

JessB masters new sounds with hype-inducing confidence propelling her rising status even higher. When she wasn’t spending her days and nights writing and recording at Red Bull Music Studios, JessB has been flexing her creative chops as part of the new generation of local artists, featuring on “Flying” as part of NZ rap collective BLKCITY. She also ran a week-long workshop at Roundhead Studio with some of her favourite artists and producers, and co-curates the popular Filth club night with regular collaborator Halfqueen.

Coming out of Auckland, NZ, Halfqueen is a DJ whose sets are just as unapologetic and empowered as her presence in every space. Rooted in the experience of her Fijian and Paakehaa bloodlines, her background has influenced a confluence of sound that is ever-evolving, musically speaking into a local and global sense of diaspora. Specializing in the genre-bending sounds of global club, Halfqueen is driven to connect via ass shaking.

DJ DeezNaks: 12pm – 2pm
JessB & halfqueen: 2pm – 3.30pm
halfqueen: 3.30pm – 4pm


What a joyful privilege to experience week one of the Kia Mau Festival. I made it to six events. Visually gorgeous work with strong themes of connection/disconnection from culture, the necessity of transformation, and response to new situations building off the work of the ancestors. Each had layers referencing the past and future, woven through in order to highlight the present. Time was transformed. Shows were presented across the city, from Parliament to Te Whaea, in theatres and performing arts education institutions.  I heard at least four languages rising from the stage – music for the ears and the spirit. We laughed, we wept, we were challenged and emboldened to rise to meet it. 

What will week two bring us?

Breaking Ground at Te Auaha

A writing festival of ideas, crafted into life by playwrights from across Aotearoa. This year, the festival will be imagining new stories for the stage. Work will be shared at the end of the week.

Tinā at Te Auaha

TINĀ is a brand new work by groundbreaking collective TULOU. It invokes passion and heart through it’s fierce movement vocabulary that has roots in Pacific and Contemporary dance. Performed by a strong cast of women, TINĀ explores concepts of motherhood and mana wāhine. You will see bold and exciting movement, bright costumes and heartfelt moments shared between powerful women. You can expect to leave the theatre feeling exhilarated and empowered.

Upu at Circa Theatre

The power of Māori + Pasifika literature roaring to theatrical life.

The world of Oceania is not small. From the energetic volcanoes of O’ahu to the southern reaches of Aotearoa, she is borderless and vast – and growing bigger by the day. After decades of dismissal and disconnection, her children are closer than ever. It’s time for a reunion. Curated by award-winning poet Grace Iwashita-Taylor and led by powerhouse director Fasitua Amosa, UPU gives the stage to Oceania’s most electrifying poetry. Tusiata Avia, Audrey Brown-Pereira, Karlo Mila, Albert Wendt and more: UPU is for the trailblazers, the icons and the new writers transforming Aotearoa today.

Te Rongomaiwhiti at BATS Theatre

Four mokopuna descended from four Atua Māori are sent to the sacred school of learning – ‘Te Wānanga o ngā Atua.’ There they are to learn how to harness their ‘mauri’ – inner power and one day carry out the important roles of their grandparents as guardians of ‘Te Ao’ and ‘Te Pō.’

However, like all great powers there is also great responsibilities that they must learn along the way to ensure that everything is in unison and as it should be. This is the ‘Mana Atua’ qualities that they possess as individuals which when combined is more powerful than anything. However, each mokopuna has their own ideas and upbringings on how the world should be but that must all be put aside for the greater good of our realm. If not, then the world as we know and see it will diminish before our very eyes.

Suitable for all ages, ethnicities and languages. A fully immersed theatre production which fuses kapa haka, tikanga Māori, te reo Māori and influenced by a Māori World view all neatly packaged into a Māori theatre production.

He Tangata at BATS Theatre

Healing rongoa for generational trauma and loss of takatāpuitanga. A search for the forgotten taonga of Te Ao Maori. A reminder of oneness. This work dances through the realms of ira tangata and ira atua, exploring whakapapa and stories of takatapui existence, to remember, mourn and heal from generational trauma.

In an act to weave takatapui and Māoritanga back together, He Tangata looks backwards whilst moving forwards as we travel within the past, present and future of Takatapuitanga.

Daughter at Circa Theatre

A Black Moana Sovereign Story by Teremoana Rapley.

Get a rare glimpse into the creative world of frequency-bending polymath Teremoana Rapley as she presents a fluid multidisciplinary, work-in-progress, live performance, listening party of her anticipated debut album, Daughter of a Housegirl to be released in 2022. Manipulated black-centric still and moving visuals from the unreleased album coupled with bass-heavy tracks interwoven with sweet acoustic flamenco inspired incantations that sit within an evolving seasonal back drop adding to the tone and mood of her long-awaited work. Part one of a triptych series, this is Daughter.

O Le Pa’a Ma Ona Vae at BATS Theatre

On the eve of his return to NZ, a young man’s grandfather appears to him in the form of a crab to say goodbye.

Exploring alofa that transcends the confines of our perceived reality, and the different forms that that can take, O Le Pa’a Ma Ona Vae is a new work from Samoana Nokise about how our loved ones continue to be there for us, if only we look beyond the physical.

Te Wheke at Te Whaea

Artistic Director Jack Gray marks the 21 years of  Atamira Dance Company with the collaborative new work Te Wheke. 

The work brings together Aotearoa’s leading names in contemporary dance including Arts Foundation Laureate Louise Potiki Bryant, Dolina Wehipeihana, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Gabrielle Thomas, Kura Te Ua and Bianca Hyslop.

These eight choreographic practitioners, with a cast of eight dancers including Sean MacDonald, explore the dimensions of human experience symbolised by the eight tentacles of Te Wheke — the Octopus, a powerful guardian on this journey from past into future.

Solo and ensemble expressions of darkness and light occur within a shape shifting world of floating black silk. Layers of symbolism emanate through the magical AV patterning and mesmeric soundscapes with lighting enhancing all – both revealing and hiding.

Le Taua o le Pepeve’a at College of Creative Arts

In the 16th Century, the Pepeve’a, a kingly Samoan fine mat was bestowed to Fonoti by his father, launching sibling rivalry and a war over titles and the kingship. Fonoti was successful, became king, and the battle was known as “Le Taua o le Pepeve’a”.

Written by Fonoti Pati Umaga, this new music work is a nod to his heritage and the parallels with Fonoti’s own battles as a disabled Samoan musician advocating through the arts, for his beloved Pacific disability community.

Carve-Va: cypher series at BATS Theatre

A physical talanoa (exchange) between Street Style dancers while Kava is being served in the space – all are welcome to drink. With ceremony being embodied in tradition and in body, the ‘Carve-Va: cypher series’ invites audiences in to witness and feel the free-style physical offerings and talanoa between the Street Style dance artists, their body memory archive, our collective ceremonies and the Va that holds us all.

Breakfast With Hades at Te Whaea

World Premiere #breakfastwithhades

This is an album launch. But not as you know it.

With the release of her debut album Breakfast With Hades, up-and-coming musician MAA is emerging from her makeshift, multi-purpose bedroom studio to share some tunes with you all.

A one night only show, featuring a compilation of various art forms including dance & design, this is the launch of Breakfast With Hades.

Note: This is not a rave. Do not pre-load as you might fall asleep or cry uncontrollably.

Breakfast With Hades features loud music & coarse language.


More posts…

Review: Popcorn

by Emma Maguire June 10, 2021

Wellington Repertory Theatre’s newest offering is Popcorn, Ben Elton’s play. The dialogue is witty, the scripting tight and the themes prescient despite being written in 1996. Set in the home of a exploitation cinema director, Bruce Delametri, Popcorn takes place over one night as the legendary Mall Murderers invade Bruce’s house after he wins an […]

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Kia Mau festival!

by librarykris June 8, 2021

The Kia Mau Festival started last week and is already racing along. It’s a treat to see Māori and Pasifika excellence in live performance – here’s what’s on this week. All I See at Circa Theatre The explosion of grief causes memories to ricochet around her. Memories begin to bleed into her reality. Time collapses. […]

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Review: Paradise (Or the Impermanence of Ice Cream)

by Emma Maguire May 23, 2021

A man. A woman. A vulture, and a kulfi shop. Indian Ink is back with another one of their fantastic productions. Lead actor Jacob Rajan delivers a glorious performance where he jumps between seven well-formed characters to tell the story of a man trapped in limbo and his dreams of his past. Indian Ink knows […]

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Review: The Saboteur

by Emma Maguire May 20, 2021

It’s improv. It’s a game show. It’s delightful chaos. It’s The Saboteur.  Off the back of sold-out seasons in the NZ Improv Festival in 2019 and in Melbourne in 2020, The Saboteur is just over an hour’s worth of improv chaos as a part of this year’s Comedy Fest. Five improvisors, one of which is trying to sabotage […]

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Giselle by the Royal New Zealand Ballet

by Joanna May 18, 2021

Giselle is a ballet I know very little about, aside from one episode of Angel and reading the synopsis on Wikipedia: The ghost-filled ballet tells the tragic, romantic story of a beautiful young peasant girl who falls for the flirtations of the deceitful and disguised nobleman Albrecht. When the ruse is revealed, the fragile Giselle dies […]

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A Quick and Dirty Look at the Comedy Fest!

by Emma Maguire May 10, 2021

Ah, the NZ International Comedy Fest – remember when we last had one? Two years ago. However, it’s back, and we’re well into the three week programme now. If you’ve not gotten along to any shows yet, here are some highlights coming up in the next few days! Josh Davies – Look! I’m blind.  Nominated […]

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