Tuia Stage showcasing Coromandel’s best

A musical and story-telling extravaganza awaits the thousands of locals and visitors who will gather together next month for Mercury Bay/Te Whanganui o Hei Tuia Encounters 250 commemorations.


Tuia Stage is an epic 12 hour free cultural showcase featuring the very best that the Coromandel has to offer in local talent - musicians, poets, composers and performers. Artists have been invited to choose existing compositions of music, poetry or stories - or to create new ones - which reflect their expressions (their lived experiences) of the kaupapa of Tuia – Encounters 250.


Behind the scenes, organisers, Creative Mercury Bay, have been preparing for months for what will be one of the highlights of a historic week as our region marks what has become the controversial 250th anniversary of the first meetings between Maori and European when HM Bark Endeavour sailed into Te Whanganui o Hei waters in 1769, a pivotal moment in our young nationhood. With over 140 artists taking part from right across the peninsula, the family friendly event will represent the people of the Coromandel - our culture, our diversity, our creativity - with a strong youth presence representing our future and our continuing journey.


“It promises to be a day packed with entertainment, fun and excitement,” says Creative Mercury Bay’s Len Salt, whose passion has been a key driver in making the event happen.


The action gets under way in Whitianga at 10.00am on Saturday, October 19th, on a specially built stage - Stage Tahi - at Whakau Reserve (Taylors Mistake). A second stage - Stage Rua -  in the new Whitianga Town Centre will begin at 10.30am and will feature the best of the young, emerging local talent from the Coromandel area. “Mostly students, many have already become accomplished singer/songwriters and are proving they can write and perform at a highly professional level - Sarah Morcom, Gemma louden, Alice Robinson, Charlotte McDougall and Esther Colman to name just a few,” says Len.


With such a diverse line-up, Len says it is almost impossible to single out any highlights. “There’s definitely something for everyone. Kuaotunu based visual and recording artist Roimata Taimana has become a local legend for his ability to create new songs from every jam session. Emerging young songwriter, Ngapuhi Hauraki, is proving he can write strong, catchy songs and is not to be missed. Thames based musician, recording artist and teacher, Dylan Wade, will bring a group of students from Thames High School to perform on the Stage Rua as well as performing with his own band; and Mercury Bay Area School’s Head of Music, Dave Mulholland, will be presenting a selection of his student groups on Stage Rua in the afternoon.”


Len said the musicians involved were excited to be part of such a huge event for region. “Opportunities to bring this many local performers together are pretty rare, it’s just a really exciting thing to be involved in.”


Whitianga Dixieland Band, Let’s Go Descarrego, Neighbouring Planets, Mark Thompson – the 12 string magician from Whangamata -  Fabian Roberts, Toya Fleetwood, The Mercury Bay Big Band, Crimson Coast and Coro Blues are among some of the more recognisable names that will be part of the line-up that will also feature several pieces of  music that have been either arranged or created specifically for this occasion. World acclaimed Maori artist, musician, and instrument maker, James Webster, will lead a group of specialist traditional Maori musicians skilled in playing Taonga Puoro instruments made in his studio in Coromandel Town. Mercury Bay Community Choir will perform a bracket of voyaging- and nationhood-themed songs, and an arrangement of the Jim Reeves song “Welcome to our World” in Te Reo and English, especially arranged for this event by Yvette Audain


International, award-winning artist and local music music teacher, Anita Prime, gets the job of closing what without a doubt will be an unforgettable show. As the alcohol-free is event is supported by the Lottery Tuia Programme, the entire day is free of charge and suitable for people of all ages. The detailed programme is currently being finalised and will be released closer to the day.


Article published 10th September 2019

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