Tauranga's first 'light and art festival' set to launch in city centre

Thursday 12 November 2020


Light and art installations from the Vivid Sydney Light Festival will feature in a showcase festival set to launch in the city centre for Christmas. This new festival dubbed the 'Trustpower Toi Tauranga Festival' will replace the traditional Tauranga Christmas parade due to the continued uncertainty of Covid-19.


Mainstreet Tauranga Manager Millie Pidwell says the Trustpower Toi Tauranga Festival starts on November 26th with an exciting programme of activities across the city centre. “Whilst it was a difficult decision to not run the Trustpower Christmas Parade this year we are so excited by the festival line up that takes its place. It means the public have six weeks of unique art and light experiences and events to enjoy in the city centre. We can’t wait to get underway.” 


A star attraction of the festival will be a two and a half metre high art and light installation, inspired by our native kiwi, entitled ‘Birds of Lumos’ that is set to transform Red Square in the heart of the city centre.  “The beautiful Birds of Lumos work of art has appeared at festivals across Australia and New Zealand so we are delighted to now hosting it in Tauranga. It features Rowi the kiwi and her chick and combines elements of Steampunk and light, featuring over 10,800 cable ties and constantly changing light patterns that transform the sculpture.”


Millie says the Birds of Lumos installation felt like a unique and appropriate star attraction for the festival.  “Let’s face it, it has been one heck of a year for everyone globally and we are very lucky to be Kiwi’s right now in a country that has been spared the harsher realities of COVID-19 that many other countries are facing. What’s more, we are heading into another quintessential Kiwi summer. This art and light installation pays homage to all that makes us Kiwi and reminds us of the importance of care and respect for our environment and each other. What’s more, it’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful and based on its success in other cities we know it will be an attraction for the public and a great photo op to boot. We can’t wait for the public to meet these Kiwi’s in person.”


Above the Birds of Lumos, the installation also features the ‘Love Birds’ from the Vivid Sydney Festival. “Gliding above you, these love birds flutter with colour and light in the wind. You can walk below the canopy and be immersed by the motion of the birds,” says Millie. Supporting this installation in Red Square and as part of the festival we also have Santa join us on one of the floats from the Trustpower Christmas Parade and every Saturday morning up till Christmas with many of the cultural groups from the parade performing in Red Square from 10am – midday.”


Trustpower Community and Communications Advisor Ashleigh Cleaver say they are excited with the revamped initiative. “The Trustpower team are proud to support such an amazing new event in our home city. The themes around the light installation and events surrounding it really resonate with our company values - the themes of Tiaki (care for people and place), Urutau (adapting, pivoting and changing to continue to provide what is needed), as well as adopting a digital mindset – looking for ways where technology can help, enhancing and make a positive change for the community."


A new mural, movie night and exhibitions also feature in the festival line up.  “We have a large immersive mural, that celebrates the marine life of Tauranga Moana, being painted on the wall in the Grey street alleyway that leads to the Spring Street carpark, we are hosting open-air movie nights in Red Square on December 12th and early January in Masonic Park and more exhibitions opening including ‘The Ceramics Gallery’ opening in the former Glassons store site in Devonport Road. Seven artists who have just completed their of Diploma of Ceramics at Waikato Potters Society, from Otago Polytech will be displaying their four years of work. Six are Tauranga artists so it will be a great showcase of our creative community. They’re also running workshops including kids Christmas decorating classes, a Wine and Clay’ workshop for women, ‘Make a ceramic kiwi’ workshop and more.”


Deputy Mayor Tina Salisbury, who has been actively involved in the summer activities for the city centre says the festival is about contributing to a more liveable city centre.  “This festival allows the city centre to provide some unique placemaking initiatives, events and installations that will add vibrancy to our city centre over summer and transform some spaces with light and art. If it means more people come and stop a while to enjoy some unique offerings then it will have achieved its objective.”

Mainstreet Tauranga Spokesperson Sally Cooke says the festival offers something for everyone.  “We are transforming spaces into vibrant, inspiring places. We want to delight and surprise people with new offerings in our city centre and by doing so give them another reason to come and then enjoy our retail and hospitality offerings while they’re here. The Trustpower Toi Tauranga Festival is about celebrating our art, light, culture and community. It’s about celebrating our care and respect for our environment, our community and our city and ultimately, it’s about celebrating what makes us Kiwi.”


More events are being added to the festival calendar each week. For the full festival line-up visit www.downtowntauranga.co.nz