The Easter Monday transformation of Tauranga’s Historic Village into a New Orleans-styled jazz quarter is one of the endearing traditions of the National Jazz Festival, Tauranga.
Learning from last year’s no available parking experience, this year I just go past the 16th Avenue Theatre, park and unload my Jazz Village essentials: – hat, water, backpack, pens, jotter and the smallest but most important item my TECT card. Yes, access to the Jazz Village is free for customers of Trustpower. With this little goodie clenched in my hand I wander on down to the Historic Village. Going down is a breeze, we’ll have more on the up later.
Access to the Jazz Village is through the far gate by the Village office. There’s security, tables of ticket checkers and are they ever taking their role seriously. One alleged Trustpower customer couldn’t locate his card and had toddled along with the letter to which the card is attached. He’s in front of me and I’m somewhat astounded that he’s refused entry unless he goes home and finds a power bill with his name and address on it. He doesn’t argue but meekly leaves. Fortunately I’ve remembered to store my TECT card somewhere I can almost remember. After the usual search through the accounts boxes, ARTbop files and ephemera of the side table; I locate my little gem. Would I have driven back to Whakamarama to find a power bill if they hadn’t let me in, no – it’s not that good.
I’m in the gates. the gates which lead directly onto the cobbled area of the Village and the main cluster of old wooden buildings. There’s a buzz, but it ain’t ticking like last year – might be too early in the day. I start my foot patrol. There are lines of food vendors with the usual scrumptious, market-recognisable goodies. I resist, although I cannot help looking for the frozen yoghurt van.
Graham Clarke of Brilleaux is parked on a deck at the corner opposite the Village Square: he’s promoting his fabulous history of Tauranga and Bay music – he’s totally chipper and having a great old-time. Smart boy, he’s picked a tree-shaded spot to avoid desiccation. Chatting with Graham turns out to be one of the highlights of my visit to the Jazz Village this year.
On the main Village roadway I find one or two stallholders, well-known to me from my market hours, they’re packing up and going home. They mutter negatively to me about the extent of their trade and associated financial success today. I’d been expecting a market experience. Perhaps next year this aspect of the Jazz Village could be oomphed up with a market at eastern end of the Historic Village (construction permitting). It would support the food vendors on the lawn area around the main gate and add to the overall excitement and ambiance of the Jazz Village. And, if it was at the eastern end of the area it could be packed down and market sellers could leave without interfering with the music and crowd at the other end of the Village.
It’s intermission in the Village Square – there’s a music programme from 12.30pm to 8pm on that cobbled spot. I visit the indoor venues. There’s a “House Full” sign outside the Hall next to the Square. The Lafayette Church is apparently full as group is clustered around the door. The other Hall is full – all I can see are the backs of those who can’t get in.
Most probably this is the reason there don’t seem to be as many people in the Village this afternoon. Maybe next year visitors can be rotated in and out of the venues on an hourly basis. That didn’t seem to be happening this year.
The Incubator, the arts collective, has its barn-door wide open. The small gallery space is crowded by the DVD based creations of a recent community based arts project. It’s a popular stop on the fringe of the Jazz Village.
There’s nothing on the Village Green: last year I fielded on-going enquiries about the lack of activities on the Green during the Jazz Village day. This year, we the people, are apparently resigned to the compact and be-cobbled state of the day and just find a space to park our carried in camping chairs. Last year, confining the performance area, created an atmosphere that bubbled and fizzed and it’s a sensible idea. But having seen the fabulous youth performances earlier in the weekend I wonder why some of them couldn’t have been asked to perform and extended the performance spaces and vibe of the event.
Well, I can’t get into any of the performance venues. I’ve already seen the DVD display at the Incubator, there are no market-stalls and I don’t want to eat any of the spectrum of foods on offer. I make the decision to totter up the hill and go home. And, what do you know, the most exciting part of the day happens.
I walk towards the gate: this time it’s at the Envirohub end of the Village. I walk out the gate, farewelled by a wonderfully polite security guard. I decide that I have to go back and find out what the young blonde woman is doing feverishly rustling through large black sacks of rubbish. While she continues to work deftly sorting sack contents into, compostable, recyclable and landfill she tells me how this process has radically reduced the amount of waste going to landfill. “Why are you doing this?” I ask this cool and sunny dispositioned young woman: “Because I believe in it”. Who is she: well, if I’ve got it right it’s the Festival Director’s Assistant, Tessa Sowry, and she volunteered for this double-glove necessary, mucky task. Tessa finishes sorting the rubbish, peels off her gloves and then runs back to make sure everything is ticking back in the Jazz Village. This was the highlight of my day at the Village: practical dedication.
One thing Tessa did tell me is that next year the recycling team could perhaps do with more volunteers – no not to sort the rubbish but to man the big recycling and disposal bins so that the volunteers don’t have to be on them for long shifts. If you think this is something you’d be interested in doing for Easter 2017 email email@example.com or phone 07 577 7460.
And speaking of sustainability checkout the Envirohub at the Historic Village organised Sustainable Art Challenge 2016. “
“Create a piece of art showing your vision for a sustainable future. Categories are:
Trash to Fash, Photography and Short films, Up-cycled furniture. Open to intermediate, secondary, tertiary students and adults within Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.
Register: 1 February to 11 June 2016.
Entries will be judged by local artists and awesome prizes awarded within each category.
Awards ceremony: Trash to Fashion Show & Art Auction, Baycourt Friday 1 July 2016 5pm
Exhibitions: Baycourt 1-3 July 2016 and then Creative Tauranga Gallery: 4-25 July 2016.
www.envirohub.org.nz – Phone 07 578 6664
And going up the hill? I use the elephant technique. I break the elephantine-slope into car-lengths and tell myself I only need to walk to the end of that car, you get it, totally achievable. I’d forgotten about the seat, or maybe the seat is new? Half-way up the 17th Avenue Hill is a solid, wooden, green painted public seat. I giggle as I photograph it. By the time I’ve got the cellphone out of the backpack and clicked the seat and composed image a couple of times, I’m as good as new and I’m off past the Tauranga Musical Theatre building, round the corner, past 16th Avenue Theatre and I’m hurling the backpack into the old but perfectly formed Nissan. Before I leave I have another day-memorable conversation with a local resident about her crab apples. She offers to share them with me. What a way to end a day!
Note: TECT is the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust which is a major sponsor of community events and activities within the Tauranga District. It is a Major Funder of the National Jazz Festival, Tauranga.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current 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.