Emma Giesen – creative capital champion

Emma Giesen

Emma Giesen, hasn’t seen much of the daylight saving hours as she spends most of her summer championing our cities creative culture. She is one of the backbones behind Wellington’s most coveted  festivals, the New Zealand Fringe Festival and CubaDupa, which run back to back.

In this interview she talks about why she works so hard to keep Welly at the top of our creative game and the exciting addition of up cycling art zones, Junk Monsters, bike powered dance acts, Bicycle Valet parking, which is all just the tip of the ice burg of all the fun stuff about to happen at Cuba Dupa next weekend.


Eco friendly  http://cubadupa.co.nz/category/eco-friendly/

To use the Valet Bike Parking http://cubadupa.co.nz/?s=LEISURE

To Volunteer https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1hsEpBopaOx5yWYQQnm908uwgh2hH3PxdpnSxn0poNTw/viewform

Myele Manzanza, Alex Lee, and Dan Shanan- Festival Fantastic

Myele Manzanza

With over 100 gigs scheduled for the Wellington Jazz festival, Jen Riches gets to interview one of Welly’s most progressive musicians Myele Manzanza about how he came to be part of the ROSS MCHENRY FUTURE ENSEMBLE and the very wide world of jazz.

Plus the Documentary Edge Film Festival directors, Alex Lee and Dan Shanan talk to Jen about the potential Wellington has to become the Hub for all film festivals?





Nick Tipping – welly’s jazz phenomenon

Nick Tipping - b & w













Nick Tipping is a professional jazz bass player from Welly, who plays regularly around town and the country. He has toured with a number of international artists including Grammy winners Mike Stern, Joey DeFrancesco, Kurt Elling as well as a few local greats like Nathan Haines and Roger Fox. He is a member of The Jac, a local 8-piece jazz band which was nominated for Jazz Album of the Year in 2014. In this interview he talks about the PHD he is doing on Wellington’s jazz scene and where he’ll be playing for the Wellington Jazz Festival.


Nik Bruce-Smith and Rob Harris – medicine men

Nik and Rob- medicine men

By day, Nik Bruce-Smith and Rob Harris look like anyone else in a suit on Lambton Quay. But by night, they are an integral part of Wellington’s burgeoning comedy scene, taking The Medicine stand-up comedy at VK’s Comedy & Blues Bar to become Welly’s hottest, sell out weekly comedy show, winning the Wellington leg of the Comedy Quest and after selling out 5 nights in their last year’s show, they have another not to be missed act in this NZ International Comedy Festival – “Coming of (Middle) Age.”

For more info and bookings on Nik and Robs show in the International Comedy Festival visit http://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/wellington/show/coming-of-middle-age

Cuba St was closed today

It will be forgiven that half of Cuba streets doors are closed today, as every store, restaurant, spare space, artist and available pair of hands were devoted to transforming the street into an epic weekend for the revival of the Cuba st. Carnival, the Cuba Dupa.

Even though I’ve walked or cycled up and down that street three times a week in the last 25 years, this weekend, Cuba Street shone in a new light.

Out of virtually no hype, zero expectation, and no over excited face book traffic that I could see, the lid on the bottle of the magic mulled for a bit during a drizzly saturday and then as dusk moved in, exploded into a plethora of awesomeness that made one remember why this city is like no other.

What were the magic ingredients that left me with such a delicious taste?

The SPACE; the removal of cars and traffic created a blank canvas to play,explore and be in. I am always amazed at how freeing this act is. ( apart from Viv of course, as a few friends were nearly bowled walking carefree into state highway no1).

The PEOPLE, the PEOPLE, the PEOPLE– the best, the worst, the regulars, the friends, the artists, the extravaganza stars, they all came. And they came with an open attitude, prepared for fun.

The IMPRINT- that was already laid down. Homage must be given to all those who created the early version and vision of the Cuba St. Carnival. So for many it wasn’t a foreign feeling, this is how Cuba Street always was and is. It has just been enabled after being  been cooped up like a battery hen for too long.

The COLLABORATORS – we think it is normal, but it is not. It is quite a talent to drop the ego and work with others. Collaborations were rife, from Steve Logan of Logan Brown making Paua Fritters at the front of Lucky’s fruit shop, to Adam Page conducting the Mass Cuba St. Orchestra made up of nearly every musician in the city, to the actors, choirs and community groups who made The Grand Opening at the Opera House such a riot. I get such a kick seeing musicians running onto the stage of already performing bands, arriving slightly late after a previous performance but determinded to be there non the less.

The CHERRIES; each will have their own but for me, the Hairy Lollies, the Saturday finale on the Upper Cuba St. stage,  were off the hook, with such good Welly musicians and songstress divas, who were there because….. They LOVE it. The second to last song was a funky Mariachi track, with a dirty slide guitar and trumpet that just kept evolving. It was so good I nearly couldn’t take it anymore.

The kids and I trouped back in on the Sunday determined to make it to The Grand Opening . The geniuses of Barbarian Productions took us on a  wild ride to get to a show that we didn’t know we were already starring in. All I can say is I have never experienced anything like that before.

Thank you to all those who consented and contributed to the weekend that was the first Cuba Dupa.  An even bigger thank-you to all those who curated and organised it. I would have lost sleep for months trying to pull that off.

But most of all thank-you to Wellington for being there with the spirit that is the Soul of Cuba street. To me, letting our creative culture reign is part of the long term sustainability and prosperity of our city.

So please may we have another slice of that… PLEASE!!!!!!!.

# Why Wellington # Cuba Dupa




Mass Cuba Street Orchestra


Steve Logan, cooking mean paua fritters at the front of Luckys fruit shop


the Hairy Lollies funking up a storm

Grand Opening- Jason Muir

Just some of the Cast or crew at the Grand Opening.

Antony Maddock – the TPP free rockabilly

Antony Maddock - black and white

My old school friend, Antony Maddock talks about his love of rockabilly, his two bands Wayne Mason and The X Ray Catz and the Tony Mad Trio that will be performing at CubaDupa this weekend, and his awesome work in the TPP Action group to help us and our councils be TPPA free.


The TPPA action group https://www.facebook.com/groups/658556344213166/

Video of our WCC adopting the 12 point resolution , starts at 3.11


The Lower Hutt City council adopted the 12 point resolution on 24/3/2015

 A petition you can sign www.actionstation.org.nz/make_tppa_negotiations_public

Jo Randerson and Thomas Lahood – Barbarian Activity

BarbariansWellingtonian theatre rebels, Jo Randerson and Thomas Lahood have been given the keys to Welly’s historical Opera House, to produce one of their most ambitious projects yet, Grand Opening.  Dozens of artists and community collaborators are joining them in what will undoubtedly be one of the must see’s at this weekends first ever CubaDupa.

In this interview they not only talk about the big vision for the Grand Opening, but the health of the Wellington creative class and their own partnership in life and in their production company Barbarian Productions.


Flip Grater, Mel Parsons and Estere – NZ Women at Womad

NZ Women at WOMAD

In this interview we speak to the three outstanding NZ female artists performing at the up and coming WOMAD New ZealandFlip GraterMEL PARSONS, and Wellington’s own Estère. They chat about what’s happening in their unique journey’s, who has inspired them musically, and when they are in their happiest place.

And Womad is a first for all three.



Matilde Tayawa, Belinda Liu and Angeline Singh – Wellington Women Walk for Peace

WWW4Peace black and white

Three remarkable young women, Matilde Tayawa, Belinda Liu and Angeline Singh have stepped up to found and orchestrate WWW4Peace – Wellington Women Work for Peace. A way to unite Wellington women of all walks and nationalities to celebrate International Women’s Day ( 8th March- this Sunday).

And they are kicking off this years Peace Walk with a speech from the Mayor and have their own stage with a fantastic line up of events right here at our Newtown Festival this Sunday the 8th of March.

In this interview they share what we as women can do in our homes help our children grow up with “Peace” as a baseline. It is up to everyone of us to start with ourselves first.



James Coyle – Newtown Festival recycling heroes

Newtown Festival Frecycling.

Newtown Festival is upping it’s game again, not only by being NZ’s biggest and best (biased yes) street festival, but also in it’s recycling front with an unprecedented 12 recycling stations! They want to show Wellington that they can put on a huge party, without sending a mountain of waste to landfill.

In this interview Newtown Festival programe coordinator, James Coyle talks to B-Side Stories about how they are going to do it, why this is good for the event and how we can all help.