Unite against COVID – filming a TV ad

Marching up and down again, performing for a great cause

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers, filming Ka kite COVID TV ad. Photo by AliG.

It’s always the same when you do any sort of filming – it always starts later than planned, and there’s always heaps of waiting around. Fortunately for us, our good friends at El Barrio had provided part of their bar as our official Green Room, which meant that we had somewhere to store our stuff, get ready, hang out, socialise, and maybe even have a beer or two. What could be better?

Our part in the ad featured two lovely guys walking amongst a group of carnival performers (us!). Dressed in a variety of CubaDupa outfits, we spent a good couple of hours parading, dancing and drumming up and down the very short alleyway that is Eva Street, much to the bemusement of passers-by and patrons of the local hostelries.

Lisa and James modelling inappropriate headgear. Ka kite COVID TV ad. Photo by AliG.The smoke machine set off the El Barrio fire alarm, which meant that the Fire Brigade paid us a visit (hello boys!); we were given and politely abandoned extra costuming by the film crew (yeah nah Mexican sombreros and Carmen Miranda-style fruit hats don’t really work with our style of samba); Mel got accidentally shoved half-way down the street by the very large lighting guy; and we did some very dodgy starts and stops because half of us couldn’t see Dazzer signalling us (which didn’t matter of course because they didn’t use our actual soundtrack in the ad).

All in all, great fun was had by all.

By the time we finished filming it was nearing 10.30pm, and the last thing we heard, as the film crew packed down their stuff and we headed on back into El Barrio to collect our gear was a plaintive “SHUT UP!” from one of the flats above us in the Hannah’s Building. Yeah OK. Soz guys. It was for a great cause!

Yep it sure turned out well. My feedback from their main coordinator was that – apart from being fantastic (her word) – we were fun, friendly and positive which gave the crew a boost and was appreciated at the end of a long 3 days of shooting.
Gordo, our gig co-ordinator

Here’s the ad – it’s called Ka kite, COVID.

Blink and you miss us – but how nice that they chose our bit as the static screenshot!

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers – Ka kite, COVID TV advertisement, Ministry of Health, New Zealand

Photo gallery

Photos by AliG, Andre Grobler, Anny Freitas, Donki Kong, Epu Tararo and Kelly Etuata. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

A bit of background

Out of the blue, we were invited to participate as background performers in an advertisement as part of the Unite against COVID campaign, which is the nation’s official response to COVID as led by the Ministry of Health and the Government.

Initially this response focused upon protecting the borders and encouraging community and individual behaviours to minimise any risk of community transmission or wider spread. Where community transmission did occur initially last March and in the occasional leaks across the border since, the Unite against COVID campaign led and encouraged our collective responses. To date this campaign – and our collective support of each other through our actions, behaviours and sacrifices – has clearly been very successful. Here we are living largely freely in New Zealand and able to do pretty much what we like as a result. But we can’t be complacent.

In the next phase of the Unite against COVID campaign, much of the focus is shifting to implementing the vaccination programme to beat COVID. This is happening all over the world. This next stage is the focus of the information and advocacy campaign. The advertisement we were asked to participate in includes advocacy messages for the vaccination programme. Reassuring the 70% of New Zealanders who have indicated they would be prepared to accept a ‘well tested and approved vaccine’, and the approximately 25% ‘vaccine hesitant’ New Zealanders – who are not sure yet and would like to know more – are the objectives of the next phase of Unite against COVID.

In doing this event Wellington Batucada is actively supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities. The outcomes of the Unite against COVID campaign to date have also directly benefited Wellington Batucada through allowing us the chances to perform to large audiences on multiple occasions as well as all having general life freedoms and health securities that are better than most have. These are things members of overseas bands like ours haven’t been able to have for a year and who knows how much longer it will be. Given the seriousness of the situation it relates to, supporting the community, our freedoms and our own future playing opportunities by supporting the Unite against COVID campaign were the main drivers of our decision to take part.

We received a performance fee for this gig, which we are donating to organisations supporting samba bands like ours in Brazil, where they continue to experience the very worst of the pandemic.

Media coverage

There’s been quite a bit of media coverage for the ad already. Looks like people really like it. Fantastic!

Covid 19 coronavirus: New vaccine advertisement wins praise

The Government’s new advertisement campaign to encourage Kiwis to get the Covid-19 vaccine launched yesterday, a typically Kiwi effort loaded with low-key humour that has won global praise.
New Zealand Herald, 3 May 2021

New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine advert goes viral as Kiwis praise the slickly produced video that ‘perfectly sums up the nation’s unique attitude’ – as students perform a stirring Haka

New Zealand’s entertaining new advert for the Covid-19 jab is being widely praised by the public as the nation begins its vaccine program…

The nation has famously fared extremely well during the pandemic, and is enjoying night clubs and rock concerts after only ever having 2,623 cases and 26 deaths…

The public applauded the video with some saying they were now ‘excited’ to get the jab.

Daily Mail UK, 4 May 2021

New Zealand and Singapore have catchy new COVID vaccine ads. Should Australia do the same?

Punchy, funny and barely a minute long, the governments of New Zealand and Singapore this week rolled out new video ad campaigns encouraging citizens to get the jab…

Both advertisements were strong examples of communication, said Kirsten McCaffery, director of the Sydney Health Literacy Lab at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health.

They cleverly use humour, use everyday language, are easy to follow, and frame vaccination as “the pathway to freedom”, Professor McCaffery told the ABC.
ABC News Australia, 4 May 2021

How NZ’s new Covid-19 vaccine ad compares with the rest of the world

Titled “Ka Kite, Covid”, the Ministry of Health’s minute-long vaccine promo is a diverse and colourful call to action. After more than a year of seeing Ashley Bloomfield and Jacinda Ardern step up to the podium to give advice about Covid-19, it’s interesting there’s not a single politician or celeb in sight. No Lorde, Taika, Richie – no one.

Instead, we’re treated to smiling, everyday New Zealanders. It’s actually quite refreshing.
The Spinoff, 5 May 2021

Beginners dance and drumming course 2021

We’ve know you’ve been waiting a long time for this… so come and join us!

Beginners dance and drumming course 2021Come and learn to drum and dance alongside members of Wellington Batucada. Sign up for the 2021 Beginners workshops now!

The Sunday afternoon workshops will run for 6 weeks, from 9 May to 13 June 2021, 1pm – 3pm.

The cost is $120 for the course. There’s also a special price of $25 for Batucada members who are keen to learn a new instrument or refresh your skills.

Drumming Workshops will take place at Cook Islands Society Hall, 220 Hanson St, Newtown (see map).

Dance Workshops will take place at the Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre. NOTE THIS IS A CHANGE OF VENUE to accommodate more dancers. For the 6 June session, we will meet at Wellington Pipe Band Hall, Corner of Hanson St, Newtown (see map).

Booking your spot on the 2021 course

To sign up, please fill in this form.

Once you’ve completed the form, please pay $120 via internet banking to:

Wellington Batucada
Reference “Your Name” and “Beginners”

We may need to limit numbers this year, so please sign up ASAP to ensure a spot!

More info here

CubaDupa 2021

We waited 2 years for this – and it was well worth the wait!

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers parade at CubaDupa. Photo by Paul Taylor.

What a weekend! Sunday in particular was a very big day for us…

Mass Samba Carnival Bloco

Every year we get together with our sister samba schools from around the country who come down to perform at CubaDupa, and we play a Mass Samba Carnival Bloco together. Over 200 drummers and dancers, doing their thing. Love it.

This footage includes our one and only rehearsal together in the morning, together with the gig later that day.

Drummers and dancers of the mass bloco – CubaDupa 2021. Video by Tom S Etuata.

The parades

This year we did a parade down Cuba Street to our stage show, and a parade from our stage show to the Samba HQ at Whistling Sisters – and then for good measure, a mini-parade from Samba HQ all the way back up Cuba Street again. Awesome!

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers – CubaDupa parade x3 2021. Video by Tom S Etuata.

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers – CubaDupa parade x3 2021 – Super-duper hi-res version.
Video by Tom S Etuata.

Stage show

The full video of our 30-minute stage performance on Sunday afternoon.

This gig felt amazing to be a part of – and the mixing desk guy was a complete genius, managing to capture voices and drums with the same mikes – impressive.

We LOVED doing this show – we think it’s one of our best CubaDupa performances ever – and when the sun broke through the clouds and shone down on us all – we got chills. Enjoy!

Wellington Batucada drummers, dancers and band – the full CubaDupa stage show 2021. Video by Tom S Etuata.

Continue reading

CubaSonic at CubaDupa 2021

A beautiful disruption 3 years in the making…

Here it is! Our one-and-only World Premiere super-exclusive performance of CubaSonic by John Psathas.

CubaSonic highlight clip from the premiere performance. Video by CubaDupa

And here’s the full-length video. Enjoy! It’s great!

CubaSonic full-length highlight video of the premiere performance. Video by CubaDupa

From CubaDupa:

The mass-music sonic interruption by John Psathas, three years in the making came to a glorious premiere performance on Sunday the 28th of March across 500 meters of Cuba Street with 300 musicians total synchronistity.

Thanks to the artists from Boat featuring Chime Red (Steve Cournane), Capital City Big Band, Dayle Jellyman, Hutt City Brass, New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī, Victoria University of Wellington Big Band, New Zealand School of Music Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington, Richter City Rebels, Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, Taikoza Wellington, The Nudge, Wellington Batucada, Wellington Brass Band.

Presented with the support of Te Herenga Waka—Wellington Uni, Creative New Zealand and PAF for making CubaSonic a total trumph.

Aro Fair 2021

Taking part in a classic Welly happening

A beautiful day, at a beautiful Wellington community event – what could be better? We were thrilled to be asked to open for the famous ArOlympics this year. It was our pleasure!

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers at the Aro Fair 2021. Video by Tom S Etuata.

From Dani from Aro Valley Community Centre…

I just wanted to acknowledge you all and thank you for such an amazing performance at Aro Fair on Saturday 13th.

The energy you brought to the event, rhythm and the beautiful positive vibe really made a difference. And seeing you all engage with the ArOlympics games and crew was priceless!

Thank you all for your mahi, bringing joy to people with your music and dance!

Round the Bays Fun Run 2021

An early start, for a great cause

This is our second time performing at Round the Bays, and once again it was a very early (7.45am!) start for this great community event. We resurrected our CubaDupa 2018 costumes (shhh don’t tell anyone, but this is my favourite ever Batucada outfit!) which meant we were colourful and eye-catching for the runners as they thundered past.

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers at Round the Bays Fun Run 2021. Video by Tom S Etuata.

We played three 15-20 min sets between 7.45 and 9.30am – a set for each group of runners as they came past. I think we did quite a decent job – we had 14 inquiries about our beginners drumming and dance workshops in the days immediately following this gig. Not bad!

El Barrio Street Carnival 2021

Three gigs in one night

What an epic night!

First a street performance at the corner of Eva and Dixon Streets, then a gig in the Eva Beva Bar, and finally upstairs to El Barrio.

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers at the El Barrio Street Carnival 2021. Video by Tom S Etuata.

Great fun was had by all, our awesome CubaDupa 2018 outfits were given an airing (and they are also epic!), and we played our little hearts out and danced up a storm.

Let’s do it all again soon!

Multicultural Festival for Chinese New Year, Te Papa, 2021

Short but sweet

We were very happy to be invited to perform at this multicultural event at Te Papa, to celebrate Chinese New Year. We shared the stage with some of Wellington’s other wonderful community dance and musical groups from many different cultures, which is always a treat.

It may not have been our longest gig (one song plus a sneaky “encore” as the show wrapped up), but it was certainly enjoyable!

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers at Te Papa for the Multicultural Festival in celebration of Chinese New Year. Video by Tom S Etuata.

Johnsonville Christmas Parade 2020

Going strong since 2008

It’s been a good few years since we first began playing at the Johnsonville Christmas Parade, and we always love taking part.

A great community event, and a nice long street parade we can really get our teeth into. Plus we get to wear Santa hats and spruce up our drums with tinsel and Christmas decorations, and that’s never a bad thing.

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers at the Johnsonville Santa Parade 2020. Video by Tom S Etuata.