Queenstown festival’s sunny disposition


The sun is beating down on A Hori Buzz’s Aaron Tokana as he blasts out another funk-infused, psych rock track on his classic white and gold Gretsch guitar.

It’s another moment at the Shotover Sunshine Festival when it’s a struggle to comprehend why the event isn’t a sell-out.

The crowd of 3000 and pretty much every musician who takes to the stage seems immensely grateful to be here, in a spectacular lush green field off Littles Road.

Killer sets follow throughout the afternoon from Tiki Taane – who takes to the stage with his young son and performs a stunning rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow among his own tunes – Ladi6 and The Peacekeepers, with three Shapeshifter members and fronted by Paroa ‘PDigss’ Apera.

“It’s a special one, the Shotover Fest,” Apera says afterwards.

“It’s my family and friends running things. It’s really nice after so many years of going to festivals to have one run by our crew. It truly makes for an ultimate festival experience.”

Apera has been performing with festival organiser Simon Hendl, aka DJ Downtown Brown, in Sunshine Sound System on and off since 2000, and like many of the artists regards him as a good friend.

Kora, The Black Seeds, Sola Rosa, K-Lab and bass-fuelled The Upbeats all slam out sets at the festival in their own inimitable styles, along with Sunshine Sound System.

It must be hugely difficult to strike a balance between being straight up rock ‘n’ roll and fastidiously organised – planning stages, toilets, buses, wrist band bar tabs, marquees, and the million other tiny details that make for a successful event.

Hats off then to Hendl, his partner Antonia Crowley and the crew who put on an impeccably organised gig and created an unrivalled spirit of camaraderie between everyone who went.