Finding new innovative ways to tell our diverse stories, for it’s 2021 street festival Cubadupa is proud to announce an expanded public art programme, on the streets and in the creative spaces of Wellington’s Cuba Street area over the weekend of March 27th to 28th. 

Public art curator Mark Amery has brought together a programme with a particular focus on innovative ways to dig deeper into local stories of diverse ethnic and migrant communities in New Zealand. These range from a giant stage set to karaoke poetry to live embroidery, involving New Zealanders of Māori, Asian, Columbian, and Congolese descent. 

Renowned Pōneke street artists Miriama Grace-Smith, Xoe Hall and Gina Kiel collaborate to create the Wellington Airport Ngā Taniwha Stage in Swan Lane, a tribute to mana whenua, public art programme Satellites with producer Rosabel Tan and poet Chris Tse present Hit me Baby One More Rhyme: Karaoke Poetry, featuring some of our finest poets, Lema Shamamba is in residence showing her remarkable embroidered stories with live music from Sam Manzanza, and Vincente E Ovalle takes you to a secret location to view a sculpture and some wooden coffins, which are not what they seem…. 

“We wanted, through art, to open out the stories behind both Cuba Street and the diversity of our community in New Zealand, that’s a big part of the Cuba Street spirit,” says Cubadupa public art curator Mark Amery. “Cuba Street is home to a remarkable array of creative spaces and stories. When we appreciate each others’ backgrounds and our different histories we build a far richer, more accepting contemporary culture. That’s part of Cubadupa’s special role.”  

Also in the programme is Curators of Cuba, a free roving live discussion series with the mavericks behind galleries in the Cuba Street area and their artists, highlighting an array of exhibitions and performances over the weekend, artist Stephen Templer painting of a live UV mural on Upper Cuba, The Shaky Ground Art Collective with ‘exquisite corpse’ sculptures, an Intergalactic Salon by Tape Art and a commissioned series of intergalactic themed flags by emerging Wellington artists Jacob Patterson and Esther McDowall.

With thanks to special public art programme partners Asia New Zealand Foundation, Urban Dream Foundation, Made Marion Craft and Artexplore.



Lema Shamamba (Auckland/Democratic Republic of Congo)

12-5pm Saturday and 1-5pm Sunday 

Maid Marion Craft, 166 Cuba Street


In residence at Maid in Marion on Cuba Street, Lema Shamamba is a leader, educator, mother and storyteller, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In association with Auckland’s Objectspace, Lema will be showing her remarkable embroidered narratives of ongoing conflicts in the Congo, and other work. The artist will be joined for performances by musician Sam Manzanza. 

In her West Auckland community Lema is known affectionately as ‘Mama Lema’, working closely with community development organisation, Rānui Action Project. She established Women of Hope, connecting migrant women, and was recognised for her work in Women Kind: New Zealand Women Making a Difference.

Conflict over minerals is represented through metallic coloured forms whilst characters illustrate the daily threat of being killed or raped by militia. In some works figures are shown attempting crossing the border. Shamamba also offers counter imagery as symbols of hope embodying her resilient stance: “the beauty of Congo can light up the whole world.” With support from Made Marion Craft.


Hit Me Baby One More Rhyme: Karaoke Poetry


Book a spot on our glittering, misty Leftbank stage this Cubadupa, where you’ll get to choose from one of 20 high-rotation poems to perform to a rapt audience of friends, strangers and the occasional pigeon. Set to hit backing tracks like ‘a hushed auditorium but there’s a baby crying’ and ‘royalty-free dubstep’, this is a sequined love letter to two of our favourite art forms. Presented by Satellites and curated by Chris Tse, with support from Asia NZ Foundation.


The Fluid Legalities inside the Altar of My Trojan Horse

Vicente E Ovalle (Auckland/Columbia)

Meet in Leftbank to join a participatory performance with a Columbian twist. You will be taken to a secret location (and a hidden sculpture and installation which is not what it seems), then on a short walk to a former stables. With live music from Matias Ceballos 

Ovalle will open up conversations about the dramatic but complex social issues affecting communities in his homeland Colombia due to drug-related violence and their ripples here in Aotearoa NZ. Ovalle is a Colombian artist and Auckland Elam fine arts student. Bookings essential to [email protected]


The Taniwha Stage

Miriama Grace-Smith, Xoe Hall and Gina Kiel (Wellington)

In a Cubadupa first we have commissioned three of the finest and funkiest wāhine artists in town to collaborate to create a giant set for our headlining Wellington Airport Ngā Taniwha Stage in Swan Lane. In a tribute to mana whenua, two harbour taniwha Ngake and Whātaitai are woven together through people representing the first iwi Ngai Tara that Te-Whanganui-a-Tara is named after, followed by others, representing their descendants and people who live in the area today. All presided over by Te Rā.


Curators of Cuba

Join Mary Jane Duffy, Mark Amery and Pip Hall for a roving discussion series up and down stairs to the galleries of Cuba Street’s art tastemakers. Participate in lively conversations with the gallery directors and the artists they’re showing, providing a peek into the workings of the art world.  Brought to you in partnership with Artexplore and funding from the participating galleries. Pop in, pop out – join for as many conversations as you like. Free entry. 

Bookings available here or email [email protected].  With support from Artexplore and the galleries.

Saturday 27 March

1pm Bowen Galleries. Aaron Waghorn. 39 Ghuznee Street.

1.45pm McLeavey Gallery. Laurence Aberhart and Bill Hammond.147 Cuba Street

2.30pm Enjoy. 211 Leftbank.  Areez Katki, Teresa Collins and Bena Jackson.

3.15pm Bartley and Company. Miranda Parkes Level 2, 22 Garrett Street.

4pm Inklink Studio. Stan Chan. Shop 104, Leftbank.

4.45pm Thistle Hall Gallery. DIY Culturalists 293 Cuba Street.


Sunday 28 March

12.30pm Te Auaha. De la Milpa a la Mesa  – Mexican cuisine. 65 Dixon Street.

1.15pm Made Marion Craft. Mulame Lema Shamamba. 166 Cuba Street.

2pm Toi Poneke Gallery. Simon Cuming. 61/69 Abel Smith Street.

3pm Anthesis Atelier. Tatyana Kulida. 3/33 Cuba Street.