Cafe Culture: Hybrid Blues at The Funky Lizard, Paengaroa


It’s early December 2018 and I’m on my way down to The Funky Lizard at Paengaroa to see local band Hybrid Blues create their first performance video. I’m genuinely excited as this is another ARTbop first – like doing the barbeque at the first ROCKFEST!  The band tells me not to publish my article and images until they’ve released the first video of their original music – that’s why this article is happening now.

I have a straight run down the old road to Te Puke. I’m not sure why but I used to come down here a lot. I love the feeling of driving along the flat of the watershed with the high, high hills to my right and the feeling of the sea in the distance. The development is creeping along the coastline and I’m reminded that there will soon be Te Puke North West and Papamoa totally East!

Contemporary transport fronts the historic coach house

I’m in Paengaroa – today I find a boutique bridal shop so Parnell/Remuera it could have been uplifted by the Tardis. The Trading Post is still here and opposite the large Comvita complex, resplendent in its internationally known modernity, is the somewhat crumbling Funky Lizard Café.  

The imposing facade of Comvita one of New Zealand’s international produce brands

It doesn’t matter that The Lizard has a veneer of decay, it’s the most ambiance-filled venue crammed with art and bohemian style and the food I see coming out of the kitchen is more than delicious. The garden is filled with people enjoying large brunch plates. It’s a brunching duo who tell me they’ve been coming here for years and they are devastated the building and business have been sold and will soon be a mere memory.   I’m amazed at the synchronicity of my visit – I’m recording the passing of real Bay of Plenty cultural history.

The creative chef at The Funky Lizard cafe

The Chef and her team are relaxed and pleasant. The Chef who is an artist has been “so busy for 8 years not much art has been created….”

I have a chat to two of the “boys in the band” – how they got to be in music, the styles of music – what their father liked…   Family and friends are there too. A granddaughter dressed for summer who’ll be part of the video. If I said there was an air of excitement it would be the hugest understatement. It’s ticking and it’s fun.

At what I deem my morning tea time I have the largest brioche-like scone with a crunchy cheese topping. It’s so big I cut it in half and take some of it home. There’s an underlying note of spice…nutmeg? Not according to the staff whom I quiz.  

There’s noise, laughing, music. Brooke Stinson the vocalist of Hybrid Blues has already noted that the doorway piano is out of tune. There’s another piano in by the old open fire-place. Apparently this has produced many an evening of entertainment – out of tune or not.

Hybrid Blues vocalist Brooke Stinson

The amount of work required to produce the music video is astounding. The producer has okayed my taking some images so long as I don’t release them immediately.

The hardest job on the day – the producer!



Brooke, whom I know from her association with the Black Sheep in Whakamarama, looks the total part and her recently acquired “new-old” gown so sets the tone. There are angles and lighting and sound and repetition. The day gets hotter and I’m glad I parked under one of the old trees in the garden.     I can see this is going to be a long and hard day for the band. I watch some more and then make my goodbyes (half my huge cheese scone in my bag).

I’m not sure why I stop in Te Puke but, while I’m in search of their public toilet, I discover that something has either happened or is about to happen on a large space of green. I cannot resist the temptation to take a look around. It’s the Te Puke Christmas concert.   I get to see some of the run-throughs – Santa Baby?

While I’m lurking in the shade of one of the awnings I hear a young performer trying to encourage a peer to join her on stage later in an act – her designated associate has either had severe stage fright or is totally unreliable. She is disconsolate at her lack of success in inveigling the replacement.   I cannot help myself I tell her to ring him back and tell him that in this life you never turn down an opportunity – you never know where it will lead.   She asks me to ring him – I think this might be going too far.

It’s in the carpark that I find that other emblem of New Zealand events and weddings – the highland pipe band. The Scottish and Irish diaspora still has its hand tightly on New Zealand society. I love that most of the bagpipers are “girls”.  

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

You’ll also be interested in Rosemary’s upcoming article in the Café Culture series – she’s at the first Jam Session at the Black Sheep in Whakamarama and Hybrid Blues are part of the lineup.AND YOU CAN CHECK OUT HYBRID BLUES AND THEIR ORIGINAL SONGS ON

ARTbop promotes

   (or we think you should check this out!)

Brendon McCarthy and Les Robinson of Apollo Steam Train in casual mode rocking the Black Sheep at Whakamarama. Apollo Steam Train will be at Waihi Beach Hotel on January 26th 2019 at 8pm   

    Travelling down SH2 towards Tauranga check out the thriving arts scene in Kati Kati.


The Carlton Gallery at The Arts Junction

In and around Downtown Tauranga make sure to visit the wonderful, vibrant exhibition in the Atrium of the TAG by Emma Prill.   ARTbop’s Lee Switzer has just published some images of this exhibition and the artist.

You’ll also want to check out The Historic Village at 17th Avenue with its increasing boutique shops, galleries and The Incubator Creative Hub

Check out what’s inside the People’s Gallery

Toymakers to the nation: The Men’s Shed




The next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair will be on the last Sunday of January 2019.  The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Cafe & Restaurant complex on the last Sunday of every month (earlier in December) 11am to 3pm.  There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee.  There’s live music. There’s an event prize you can win.   If you would like to join them as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity or artisan products you can contact them at

 The Fair is sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road.  You won’t be able to miss it!  Indoors over winter months and outside in the Summer. 


CHECK OUT the BLACK SHEEP facebook page—Grill/The-Black-Sheep-Bar-Grill-1521530954835376/



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