WOMAD artists arriving in town

The flags are flying, the iconic letters are up and the artists are starting to arrive for this weekend’s WOMAD festival.

WOMAD NZ Event Director and Programme Manager Emere Wano says international band Las Cafeteras arrived in Taranaki on Tuesday.

They were the first artists to arrive and are here to take part in WOMAD’s Community Programme, which is run in partnership with Todd Energy, TSB Community Trust and NPDC.

As well as that about 150 international artists landed in Auckland from WOMAdelaide on Tuesday and are making their way to Taranaki on Wednesday.

Michaela Blackman and Emere Wano are gearing up for WOMAD.

Once in New Zealand the artists are greeted by an Artist Liaison team, who take care of them while they are in Aotearoa.

“A lot of people don’t realise we have an Auckland based Artist Liaison team who never come down. Their job is in Auckland – they receive all the artists, get them settled, and get them here,” Wano says.

“Quarantine is another big one for us with the types of artists we are dealing with. A lot of them have unique natural costumes and instruments so we have to make sure those get through customs.”

Once the artists arrive in Taranaki on Wednesday they check into their hotels, unpack their bags and then head to a welcome BBQ with the WOMAD team.

“It’s an informal BBQ for the artists to welcome them to New Plymouth, and it’s a great relaxed vibe,” Wano says.

“The minders meet their artists for the first time, and a lot of our crew who have been talking to the artists for a long time finally get to meet them face-to-face.

“Then on the Thursday is the pōwhiri and all of the delegations get welcomed onto Owae Marae. And then in the afternoon it’s the free NPDC Pop Up Festival at Puke Ariki Landing. So it’s a big week.”

WOMAD site manager Michaela Blackman says the setup at Brooklands Park is going well.

She’s been working on the site management and logistics of WOMAD since early October – organising, planning, redesigning and calculating.

It’s her second year as WOMAD’s site manager, but she’s no stranger to the game of events management. She’s been in the thick of it for 15 years after moving on from a long and varied history at places like BBC Radio and TVNZ.

“I’m kind of a gun for hire,” she says. “I‘ve worked all sorts of events in various capacities; sporting and music.

“But here, the biggest challenge for this site is its beauty, because it’s a public park. We have to be really careful how we handle the park, and we can’t break the park.”

Despite the intermittent rain Taranaki has had in the last week the WOMAD site set-up is on time and everything is lined up for a great three days of festival fun.

  • WOMAD is an award-winning three-day music and dance festival, held in many countries throughout the globe. WOMAD NZ is on from March 15 to 17 at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth. For more information visit www.womad.co.nz

CAPTION: Las Cafeteras are already in town for WOMAD. SUPPLIED