Mihirangi headlines Evolve

NAOMI ARNOLD
Last updated 12:54 21/02/2013
Denzel Washington Flight
CELEBRATION: Mihirangi Fleming has made her mark from Antarctica to Australia, the US and Mexico.

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Naomi Arnold checks the vibe on a weekend festival that has, well, evolved:

New Zealand's Got Talent finalist Mihirangi Fleming will headline at Evolve Festival this weekend on her album launch tour, her only date in Nelson.

Evolve Festival is an annual celebration for health and wellbeing in the heart of Nelson city, promising inspiration, information and celebration to evolve the health and wellbeing of individuals, the community and the earth.

Attractions include a clothes swap stand; more than 70 workshops, classes, and seminars; demonstrations and performances; products, therapists and healers; plenty of delicious healthy food; kids' zones; and the special evening concert on Saturday night from 6pm to late featuring Fleming and her band Resin Dogs.

Fleming was born into the touring life with musician parents, growing up on a New Zealand farm in a small town called Benneydale. Her ancestral connections are with Rereahu Marae, Ngāti Rākeiora, Ngāti Waikorara, Ngāti Rahiri and Ngāti Raukawa iwi, and she says she weaves these threads into her music.

She made her mark as a musician in Australia, and has since sung to the Mayan people from pyramids in Mexico, held a midnight session under the sun while filming in Antarctica, and performed to 65,000 people in San Francisco at the Power to the Peaceful festival. She's entertained Hollywood A-listers, performed with groups such as Arrested Development and supported acts such as Public Enemy and Sheikhs of Bahrain. She's played alongside fellow socially conscious artists such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Dixie Chicks, Pierce Brosnan and Martin Sheen, to name a few.

Within New Zealand she has performed at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Auckland, at Pasifika Festival, Womad, and now embarks on her own tour, visiting rural venues and main centres.

Other top acts include Amiria Grenell, a folk artist who hails from the formidable Grenell tribe. Grenell, a highly regarded singer-songwriter, won the Tui for best folk album at the New Zealand Music Awards 2012.

Organisers Chai and Bex Deva have taken Evolve (which started life as the Festival of Possibilities, and then became the Festival of Opportunities) in a different direction over the last three years.

"When we took it over we had the impression that it had got a little tired in the way it had been run," Chai Deva says.

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"Bex and I were a bit younger than the previous owners and had a lot of experience at festivals in the UK and India and various places. We wanted to bring more celebration to the whole festival."

They sold 75 per cent of the stalls last year, and have sold out the spaces completely this year. "It's been a huge shift," Mr Deva says. "Loads more people are coming from overseas and artists are approaching us now. We've had to turn away quite a few musicians. The buzz is changing; we're getting calls from Auckland asking about ticket sales."

The first year they spent 10 times as much on music as the previous budget had allowed for, a sum which has increased with each subsequent year.

Last year they introduced their first Saturday evening gig and that "went down really well", Mr Deva says. "The best comment I got from someone was: ‘I think you took Nelson by surprise.' "

This year they're making the music even more of a focus by closing the workshops at 12.30pm so people will be brought out into the central area to listen to Tommy and the Fallen Horses on Saturday and Amiria Grenell on Sunday.

About 2000 people went through the gates last year.

  • Tickets will be $15 at the gate each day, with attendance on Sunday free from 3pm. Students and seniors $5, children under 14 free. A weekend pass is $25. The festival runs from Saturday 10am to 11pm and Sunday 10am until 6pm. The festival is working towards zero waste, so your own plates and cups are welcome. See evolvefestival.co.nz for more.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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