been | Splore 2019

T’was the night before Splore and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse …. but I for one certainly was, as I tapped my musical toes to sleep, in eager anticipation for the 20th Anniversary of Splore.  ‘Celebration’ being the theme of the year and which took place amidst the magical spirit of Tapapakanga National Park.

SPLORE – The festival that delivers music, art, food and unexpected frivolity, around every kooky twist and turn. Where the wind literally blows you to a different creative experience throughout the entire weekend.

The three day festival takes place at the sacred home of the mana whenua, Ngāti Whanaunga and Ngāti Paoa.  Where tradition is upheld each year with a reverent powhiri, welcoming artists and attendees from all over NZ and the world to this blessed site.

Performing the sacred powhiri








I begun the day, wary of the mud puddles that were soon encroaching upon us, but with my trusty glitter gumboots,  I was determined to set up camp before the rains came, well prepared for the days merry onslaught.  First musical treat of the day for me, was Tubbs – Christopher Tubbs.  A much revered figure of the Wellington dance scene. Also noteworthy, as the former owner of the cult vinyl-only record co. Untracked (supported by the likes of Mark Ronson and Gilles Peterson).  His upbeat and deep disco selection had even the most sleep-deprived and rookie reveler right back into the spirit of the festival, regardless of the showers that were about to fall …

A newbie to the Splore family was one Marco Alonso, a DJ definitely worth a mention after playing to a jam-packed audience within the Lucky Star tent.  A real crowd shaker with his deep funky house and soul pleasing vibes.  DJ Aroha gave 100% – her energetic and diverse dance music collection was at it’s absolute best at the Crystal Palace, followed by our other native gem, King Kapisi.

The much anticipated London-based drum’n’bass & dubstep outfit – Rudimental, lead the night with an extremely crowded main stage, and despite the persistent deluge that caned us that Friday evening; were completely owning it, with heavily charged performances of some of their more commercially successful tracks, and had the majority of the audience literally, pumping.

Also on the main stage, headliners Orbital’s light display and performance all-round,was phenomenal.  Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll (based in Kent, England) have been laying down the electronic goodness since 1989;  and whose early beginnings in the acid-house scene and subsequent techno fused dance tracks, combined with their iconic presence, created a euphoric moment that one could not help but feel throughout their dynamic set.

Amazing light display by electronic legends Orbital

Beginning the Saturday a little bleary eyed, I was ready yet again to get amongst it, with the weather and the winds since subsided.  Linda T was a joy to discover at the Crystal Palace stage, with her funky, soul and smooth mixing, and speaking of new discoveries ….  a definite highlight from the extensive line up for me were the R’nB/Soul/Hip-hop duo, Children of Zeus.  Hailing from Manchester UK – they were well supported by our much loved and adopted homeboy, DJ Hudge (if you missed them at Splore you can still catch them this coming Wednesday at ‘Neck of the Woods’ Auckland).

Children of Zeus featuring HUDGE – Main Stage

Saturday night played host to the much celebrated Jungle Brothers, consisting of members: Afrika Baby Bam, Mike Gee and DJ Sammy B, and who were down one Mike Gee on the night (due to an unanticipated return to the States) but the remaining two definitely did not let that stop them pushing the limits of their renowned hip-hop sound, and showcasing their solid history in creating some of the greatest musical collaborations with other artists such as; De La Soul, Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest

Club Hedonistas Cabaret, hosted by club queen ‘Ronnie Rae-Gunn, was a curation of the most provocative and awe-inspiring burlesque, circus mastery and aerial dynamics – featuring Jair Ramirez, Flow Academy, Dust and the irrepressible Chris Oh! (to name but a few) a hedonistic night sure to push the boundaries of pleasurably risque’ entertainment!

An unexpected (but most welcoming find) was the hidden gem avidly coined ‘Portal’ (lovingly referred to by it’s residents as the ‘Womb’) a quirky pocket of a venue where Bali-based and Kiwi-born LADY FLiC, bestowed on us some of her finest and most vibrant eclectic house/electro for the lucky few that found themselves there in the late hours of the night.  Not one to be pigeon-holed, with her distinctly progressive musical selections, LADY FLiC has weaved a truly unique and impressive DJ career from the club/house scene of NZ to the Dublin Red Bull Music Academy, pirate radio in London and beyond ..

The impressive LADY FLiC @the Portal

Chris Oh! At his ‘boylesque’ best












A surprise visit Saturday by Russian political activists ‘Pussy Riot’









Closing the main stage and the most wowing performances of that weekend – we had the brilliant pairing of Brazilian DJ Marky and our very own Tali, who as MC did not let us down, combining her soulful instrument of voice with Marky’s superb scratching and drum’n’bass fuelled beats.
MC Tali in support of the legendary DJ Marky

There were also many heartwarming moments that I unfortunately missed capturing on film; one being witness to a tender instance of hula-hoop unity between a young family, in the warm glistening sun, surrounded by the chilled vibes of the Lucky Star tent, then rounding the afternoon off with some much needed cheesy goodness, provided in the form of the most delectable toasties, food-truck side.

It was to surmise, most definitely a ‘celebration’ and one that I was thrilled to be a part of, catering to both families and the most passionate party-goer with its multitude of art installations, stalls, music, workshops for both adults and kids alongside general good vibes.  Splore is constantly growing and evolving, and in doing so I just hope that it still manages to retain its intimate and quirky bohemian charm, without giving way to increasing commercialism, which is fast becoming a natural hazard for many a successful festival.

And to sign off my friends, it is fair to say that I am now officially SPLORED!

Colourful and whimsical art installations throughout the site …
Capturing the beautiful beginning of sunset as we depart the regional park.