Ngatarawa Festival Garden Sessions

Photo: Arahi and band.

Thanks to a generous grant from Ngatarawa Wines, a hand-picked selection of Hawke’s Bay’s finest musicians will fill the Festival Garden with their songs in a handful of free, live entertainment sessions throughout the festival period.


We have worked hard to create an enchanting space in front of the Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent for you to relax, socialise and partake in the celebratory feel of the festival. Superlative wines, craft beers and locally sourced foods will be available not only to those attending shows, but to anyone that wants to soak up the atmosphere and spirit of one of New Zealand’s most dynamic regional festivals.

So come on down to the Festival Garden and find yourself a niche, a nook, a cosy corner under the magnificent Nordic-style teepees, with their Scandi wood and rustic elements and ingenious Hawke’s Bay DIY touch.

The sessions

Saturday 20 October

Sarah Wiig, 3–5pm

Sarah began her musical career in the angst of adolescence and received NZ ON Air funding for her first album. She went on to get a degree in composition, majoring in sonic arts.  She’s currently working on her honours degree, whilst lecturing in music at EIT, mothering, and generally being creative, somewhat enigmatic and incredibly supportive of aspiring musicians.

One girl, one guitar, a little blonde power that holds on to an audience with an infectious passion you can’t help but watch.

Bruce Bisset and the Rural Voters, 5.15pm – 7.00pm

With members from right across the rural landscape of Hawke’s Bay, Bruce has brought together a very fine group of musicians to perform not only his original songs but also covers by artists ranging from Louis Armstrong to Tom Waits, Elmore James to Little Feat, Leadbelly to JJ Cale.

Bruce’s own style is a mix of blues and poetry fusion. His passion is for songs that tell a great story, songs you want to listen to and live inside for a while.He spent most of the 1980’s on the road as a professional performance poet and blues singer, covering all the major festivals (such as Nambassa and Sweetwaters) in the company of artists such as Midge Marsden and Rodger Fox, as well as touring extensively with respected singer-songwriter Ralph Bennett.

 Rosie Langabeer and Anton Wuts, 8.45pm – 11pm

These two highly regarded local musicians bring us some mellow world-class jazz to round off the busiest day of the festival.

A multi-instrumentalist, composer and performer, Rosie works primarily on evolutionary collaborative arts projects and has returned to New Zealand after seven years in the USA. She was the musical director and keyboardist for Margot Wuts’ 2015 HBAF band, The Duchess Club; composed and directed the music for The Hooligan and the Lady as well as performing her own show, Dr Geeklove, in last year’s festival; collaborating this year with Greg Malcolm and Jenny Ward in Songs of Ivor Cutler. Rosie was a 2018 finalist for the prestigious SOUNZ Contemporary Award at the Apra Silver Scrolls.

Anton Wuts is the local heavyweight champion of the saxophone and mainstay of the Revolutionary Arts Ensemble, The Tropical Downbeat Orchestra and Fane Flaw’s No Engine.  He has performed with Kiwi music and arts icons Jonathan Crayford, Patrick Bleakley, Margot Wuts, Letterbox Lambs and Blair Latham.  He features regularly in HB Jazz in the Park, HB Arts and Fringe Festival shows and has side projects too numerous to mention.  Anton is also a regular in the pit for most of the Bay's best loved musicals.

 Thursday 25 October

Arahi and band, 5–7pm

Arahi is a young emerging folk artist from Hawke's Bay’s cape coast. Backed by drummer Zazu Geor and bassist Brooklyn McDonald, Arahi brings a 1960’s Greenwich Village folk feel to the stage, although his songs are absolutely of the moment. Songs that seduce the listener with an intimacy and honesty that enamors and enchants. A chance to sit back at the heart of the Festival and hear a young local artist on the cusp of nationwide attention.

DJ lil’ b (aka Michael Hawkesworth), 9–11 pm

Michael is a visual and performance artist of national repute. DJing is his recreational passion.  As a DJ he is a fan of a wide range of music and often plays eclectic sets that incorporate anything from ‘60s and ‘70s soul, funk and psychedelic to ‘80s electro and old-school house grooves. He’s been in the game since the mid ‘90s, and still prefers using good old-fashioned vinyl records and CDs in his DJ sets. The only qualifier is the music has to be good, and he loves playing stuff that's perhaps less well known, forgotten gems and underground sounds.





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