Boutique Punakaiki festival woos national talent

Boutique Punakaiki festival woos national talent

Bird-watching, tree-planting, yoga, clowning around, dancing, singing, poetry, kids racing around – it’s time for the mini Glastonbury of the South again!

Three years after wowing Tāiko Festival audiences at the boutique Punakaiki event, Kiwi music legend Tiki Taane is coming back, joined by Shapeshifter vocalist PDigsss.

Festival Chair Jed Findlay says Taane jumped at the chance to come back to the family-friendly festival on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 May, with his good mate PDigsss.

“They were supposed to play in 2020, but… COVID-19 happened to the world. Being the great guys they are, they’re back on the bill for 2021! The two will both perform solo, and then together in the beautiful Untamed Natural Wilderness of Punakaiki on Saturday 8 May (at the Punakaiki Beach Camp, to be exact).”

Findlay says tickets sold out last time Tiki Taane played, and PDigsss would also be a huge drawcard.

“We love being able to bring top NZ musicians to the Coast. And the cool thing is, they seem to love coming to our wee neck of the woods. It’s a great vibe.”

Nationally renowned North Island-based poet David Merritt will perform earlier in the day, joined by New Plymouth musician Justine Francis, after Punakaiki poet laureate Trev Hayes kicks off the entertainment at 4pm after the kids’ activities wind up.

“Poet of the People” David Merritt tours the country regularly. He’s often found with a small table of poetry books for sale, waiting for custard squares and conversation. Teamed up with Justine Francis, they describe their act: ‘A twisting, touching emotional/ political landscape painted through words and music – deep and wispy sounds threading through the rhythm of the work like rising smoke.’

Not Just Jazz almost stole the show in 2019 with their high energy crowd-pleasers, and this big band is back again to warm up the audience for the headliners.

Auckland DJ Dylan C will play the night out till it finishes at 12midnight.

The Tāiko Festival was started seven years ago to mark the return of the tāiko to nesting sites just south of Punakaiki. As well as the performance event, it includes a beach parade and talk by local bird specialist Kerry-Jayne Wilson at 5.30pm on Friday 7 May at McMillan’s Beach, followed by an epic open mic night at the Punakaiki Beach Camp (bring any instruments you want).

On Saturday morning, options include native tree planting at the Conservation Volunteers area on Saturday morning, yoga on the beach in Punakaiki (or at the beach camp under cover if wet), and a community market on the village green at Dolomite Point.

Kids’ activities start at the beach camp from 2 – 4pm.

Because it’s the West Coast, and May, festival organisers remind people to bring warm layers, rain coats, and think about gumboots for footwear.

“We’re hardy souls used to a bit of weather, and the great thing is West Coasters never let that get in the way of a great time,” Jed says.

Tickets sold for the 2020 festival will be honoured for the 2021 event. Tickets are available at More information at

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