Artist's sustainable tour goal

22:53, Nov 15 2012
Southland Times photo
Hawea singer-songwriter Anna van Riel rehearses in her garden ahead of an alfresco concert with fellow Wanaka musicians tomorrow night.

Singer songwriter Anna van Riel bubbles over with an energy which is almost at odds with the tranquility of her Lake Hawea home.

The Invercargill-raised musician and her husband, Locky Urquhart, live on his family's five-hectare property, the former Nook Road Nursery.

Everywhere you look there are vegetable and herb gardens and fruit trees, as the couple do everything they can to live off the land.

It is a way of life award-winning van Riel also promotes through her music, which she describes as "quirky folk, bluegrass and cabaret influenced".

The couple are currently fundraising for a tour with a difference, to north and mid-west America in July and August next year.

They will drive more kilometres than they have dared to calculate, with van Riel, 31, performing house concerts in eco-conscious homes enroute, ideally earth homes.


The couple are planting trees to offset the carbon footprint created by their road trip. During the concerts, she will share stories and information about how her household is achieving its dream to live sustainably.

"I really believe that if we all do something to set off a chain reaction, we all create a consciousness, it is going to make a big difference." Urquhart, who van Riel describes as her "groadie" - her groupie and roadie - will film all aspects of the tour.

Van Riel says a musical career in New Zealand can be frustrating because the funding and support generally goes to the same, higher-profile artists. She plans to use the film as part of a mentoring programme, to inspire other Kiwi musicians to find ways to realise their dreams without relying on large sums of money.

The pair also intend to gather American ideas about sustainable living to share with their own community and to help Urquhart, 33, in his job as a builder. Van Riel said she wants her daughter to grow up seeing her parents achieve their goals, despite the odds. Nineteen-month-old Matilda Urquhart has already overcome immense challenges in her short life and she has more to come.

The bubbly toddler was born with a rare condition called giant omphalocele. Her liver, intestines and stomach had formed outside her body, in a sack.

She has undergone surgery three times, the first at just a week old, to put her organs inside her body.

"She is really lucky to be here," van Riel said. Matilda will have another operation when the family returns from the United States, to join her stomach muscles.

Van Riel said the family had just under three weeks to raise about $4000 to ensure the tour goes ahead.

Donations made via her tour website,, will be rewarded with innovative gifts including worm farms, a dinner for four with the cooking and concert provided by van Riel, the opportunity to co-write a song with her and free downloads of her albums. Music lovers can also enjoy a sneak preview of her new album, Whistle and Hum, which will be recorded next month, at a house concert in the grounds of her home tomorrow night.

She will be joined by other Hawea and Wanaka musicians, Danny Fairley, Dominic Stayne and Liv McBride.

Van Riel said anyone was welcome to bring a picnic, refreshments, a rug or a chair and to enjoy the music and stories. Umbrellas would not be needed, as there was cover should it rain.

GIG DETAILS What: Concert by Hawea and Wanaka musicians Anna van Riel, Danny Fairley, Dominic Stayne and Liv McBride Where: Nook Road Nursery, on Nook Rd near Lake Hawea When: Saturday 7pm What to bring: Picnic, refreshments, rug or chair Cost: Free, children welcome

The Southland Times