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Friday, 22 March 2019 08:19 pm

Family festival gives kids their own interactive space

Crowds of kids and parents converged on their very own part of CubaDupa Festival 2017 in the middle of Wellington today.

The interactive nature space attracted Sam and her niece Alyssa, 10, from Upper Hutt.

“I’m glad this area is here for entertaining her,” says Sam, watching Alyssa play a piano made of plastic pipes.

“I think she’s bored just looking at things, so here is something to touch!”

Cuba Dupa 2017 boasts 250 events and a handful are especially for children and families.

The family specific activities are in two main spaces – an Urban Playground on Leeds St, and the MoreFM zone in upper Cuba St.

Brianne Kerr, marketing director of CubaDupa says the Urban Playground location at Leeds St is ideal for kids.

“We like for it to be an open space so that there is lots of room to get creative,” she says.

The programme has emphasized a few key events for families, says Brianne.

“We highlight events that we know are participatory. We want to see families literally doing things together.

“You could go see a band and have a great time dancing but the thing that makes a great family experience is the delight and the novelty of it.”

This year CupaDupa’s Urban Playground features Capital E’s BLOOM garden and React Manawatu’s Blooms and Butterflies installation project

Capital E’s BLOOM Garden is a collaborative art making sculptural experience, says Karen Carey, creative producer at Capital E.

“At Cuba Dupa, children and their families are invited to have fun, play and construct  dynamic open-ended organic shaped structures and formations work by connecting some of the  thousands of bright pink pieces of BLOOM.”

BLOOM has ‘head gardeners’ like Sabrina and Neenah, to facilitate the creative experience.

“The hardest part is making sure the kids don’t break the pieces,” says Sabrina, 30 from Newtown.

“You don’t want to stifle their creativity, but sometimes if the pieces get blown over in the wind they’ll break.”

Neenah, 23 from Te Aro says it can be hard to drag herself away from her own play.

“A little girl I was working with made a beautiful spiral shell, like in wind chimes, which inspired me to make my own one.”

The head gardeners are there to help the kids and encourage them to try new things, Karen says.

“For the littlies, just holding up the creations so they can add more pieces on to it, with it as little spoken word and intervention as possible is important.

“You can build anything – – you can build a dinosaur, a bench, a cave, a tree…”

Marianne Taylor, creative producer at Capital E, says BLOOM presents a chance for parents to let go, and join their kids in play.

“It’s kind of like Lego, but cooler – because you don’t have to undo the little pieces,” she says.

For Kylie, 37 year old mum from Seatoun, playing with BLOOM with her 7 year old daughter is a chance for a break.

“We’re usually doing sports activities, swimming lessons but we thought we’d have a break today and do this instead.”

On the other side of the Urban Playground, REACT from Manawatu are hard at work sculpting butterfly wing frames out of willow, and crafting instruments out of recycled plastic.

Matty Green, a long standing member of REACT’s Junk Orchestra is making porotiti out of bucket lids, while Bridgette Murphy, creative director is pasting tissue paper onto the willow frames.

REACT uses entirely recyclable materials in their sculpture, including the astroturf on the ground.

“My partner has been up in Hamilton lifting turf off old tennis courts for this, it’s hot heavy work,” she says.

“Just because it comes from rubbish doesn’t mean it needs to be rubbish. You should always produce your best work.”

The Urban Garden will continue growing throughout the festival, as children add to the butterflies and blooms, or make their own out of colourful recycled foam from hockey pads.

Bridgette finds the kids at their most interesting when they’re creating.

“A pool noodle could turn into a caterpillar or the body of a butterfly. Kids are always coming up with their own ideas.”


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