It’s a sound unlike any other. It takes you back to a different era, makes you get up and dance, and is the perfect accompaniment to some great food and drink. It’s jazz, and it filled our city’s streets over Easter weekend at the National Jazz Festival.
Home-grown in Tauranga, the festival has been a highlight in our region’s calendar of events since 1962.
The jam-packed weekend brings with it much anticipation and excitement every year, with over 25,000 people flocking to the city to enjoy the programme of world-class musicians, dining experiences, dancing parties, Downtown Carnival and more.
This year saw the TECT Jazz Village back after being off the programme for a number of years. The Historic Village was abuzz with great bands, big appreciative crowds and a fabulous atmosphere – the perfect venue for the New Orleans style event.
Steve Carlin had the audience swooning with his lush style and smooth vocals singing Sinatra, while the Youth Jazz Competition showcased the very best emerging jazz players from secondary schools across the country – an incredible platform for kids to get involved playing on a professional stage.
It’s something Festival Manager Marc Anderson says he was delighted to see after the cancellation of the festival last year due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
“It was a real shame the festival had to be cancelled last year. Leading up to this year’s event, it was business as usual, but we always had in the back of our mind that we could be in the same position again and were prepared for that.
“When we knew we were going to be able to do it, there was such joy, and we felt a huge relief. While we are still dealing with the aftermath of last year, a positive that came out of it was we were able to have 100% New Zealand artists, some of who had returned from overseas. We’re lucky to have such fantastic local talent.”
Marc says the festival brings many benefits to the region.
“The National Jazz Festival is part of the heritage of Tauranga and contributes to our cultural identity – it is well-loved by the community, offering special experiences that draw people together from all age groups and ethnicities.
“It also provides great economic benefits to our region, whether that be visitors staying at hotels or the many thousands that converge in Downtown Tauranga grabbing a bite to eat or checking out the retail stores. It enables a lot of businesses to carry on through the winter – it’s a huge thing to have in the city.”
TECT continued its 12-year partnership with the Tauranga Jazz Society, helping bring the event to life with $65,000 in funding approved for this year’s festival. It brings the total granted by TECT towards the festival to over $1 million.
Marc says TECT’s funding, both this year and last year, was paramount to the success of the festival.
“Covid severely affected the events industry, but we managed to get through it. People were eagerly waiting to go out and experience something in a festival environment, even more so than usual, and this year we provided the ultimate festival.
“But we wouldn’t have been able to do it without TECT’s funding. When the event was cancelled last year, we still had a lot of costs we had to pay for. If TECT hadn’t supported us, it would have created a hole we would have struggled to get out of. The knock-on effect of TECT providing the funding they did last year helped this year immensely.
“We are also incredibly grateful for the funding this year, and to know TECT has supported the festival with over $1 million in funding, we just feel very privileged. Not only has it provided those many community benefits, but over the years, it has actually helped the music industry – especially from that Youth Jazz Competition stage with young talent progressing onto become professional musicians.”
TECT Trustee Tina Jennen says TECT were thrilled to help bring an exciting mix of events back to our city.
“The National Jazz Festival wows Western Bay residents and visitors from around the country every year. This year was no different, and I was lucky enough to see it for myself at a number of events.
“It was so interesting to hear the stories behind the compilations and also fun to be part of the audience interaction during the final, spontaneous jam sessions. These moments further showcased the talent - and joy - of these amazing jazz musicians.
“A lot of hard work goes into making the festival a reality, and here at TECT, we are pleased we can play our small part in that with our funding.”