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Important Update: Further Reductions to our 2021 Programme: Nelson Art Festival

As of 7th of October 2021

Kia ora koutou katoa,

In the light of the government’s Monday 4 Oct announcement, it is with doubly heavy hearts that we have had to make further changes to what the Nelson Festivals Trust is able to deliver in 2021 while keeping our community safe.

We held on tightly to a spark of hope that we might have been able to safely gather as a community, but sadly, we continue to face too much uncertainty.

With the current government strategy rolling out over the next 4 to 8 weeks, it is very unlikely that Whakatū will be back to an alert level in time where we would be able to safely deliver our vision.

Because of this, we have had to make further tough decisions, including cancelling Whakatū’s festival-favourite, the Mask Carnivale, the Pukapuka Talks literary programme, Night Vision, PechaKucha and Couch Stories.

You will find a full list of which events have been cancelled, and which we will be to proceed with, below.

We know that these are heart-breaking news for everyone involved. We share our huge disappointment with all our artists, producers, crew and venues who worked so hard towards creating this festival; with our funders and sponsors who have been relentless in their support and belief in our vision; and with you, our audiences, who have met our programme with such enthusiasm and have so warmly welcomed our new team and our vision for this year’s festival.

Tēnā koutou, thank you all.

He ora te whakapiri, he mate te whakatākiri.
There is strength in unity and weakness in division.
Until we can see you all again to connect in person, please take care, arts lovers. Be kind, look after each other, wear your mask, use the tracker app…you know it.

Big gatherings may not be possible, but as long as we are willing, we can connect.

We encourage you to still enjoy and support the arts: visit your local galleries and museums (lots of beautiful exhibitions are waiting for visitors at the moment!), buy a book from your favourite author or discover a new one, tune into a digital presentation, book ahead and get tickets for concerts and performances – while things may look a bit uncertain now, shows will be back.

Every time you buy a ticket, at least one artist, organiser, technician and/or venue operator does a happy dance – it keeps them, and all of us, going to have your support!

Lydia, Rose, Shanine & the Nelson Arts Festival team

Silver. Stone. Wood. Bone. (18 Oct)
Pure Psychic Automatism (Fri 22 Oct| 10.30am – workshop at Elma Turner Library)
Through The Eye of Whakatū (throughout)
Exhibitions at Refinery ArtSpace bySamara Davis & Vicki Smith (throughout)
He Raranga Kōrero: Weaving Conversations at Suter Art Galery Te Aratoi o Whakatū (throughout)
Nelson City Centre ArtWalk Tours (22, 28 & 30 Oct)
And the following 3 digital Pukapuka Talks (FREE):
Writing Home: An Antidote to Feeling Stranded (digital)
The Mirror Book (digital)
Once Were Hippies (digital)


  • Mask Carnivale
  • Night Vision
  • PechaKucha
  • Couch Stories
  • Selina Tusitala Marsh in-school workshops (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Connections & Cultural Obsessions (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Navigating Space & Time (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Whaiora: Reimagining Wellbeing (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Only A Few Years From Now… (Pukapuka Talks)
  • The Mansfield Legacy: Blessing or Curse? (Pukapuka Talks)
  • The Crucial Decade: Responding to the Climate Crisis (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Beyond the Headlines: True Crime (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Asian Voices in Aotearoa (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Wāhine Wahapū (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Out Here in Whakatū (Pukapuka Talks)
  • Sisters Are Doing It (Pukapuka Talks)

Tickets for the cancelled shows will be refunded in full – please read more about this here. Ticket holders for The Mirror Book and Once Were Hippies will also be offered a refund as these events are now free.

Please sign up to our newsletter, keep an eye on our social media and check back here for updates.

Thank you for your understanding and support, arts lovers. We are so very grateful for you.

Kia kaha, kia atawhai, kia haumaru.
Stay strong, stay kind, stay safe.

Click here to find out more…

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