Auckland; Trouble in a Street Performer Paradise?

What is paradise for street performers?

Well as with everything else in this world there is no perfect paradise but for street performers, New Zealand comes very close. Both New Zealand and Australia have a ton of busking festivals and competitions all the time. Kids 14 and over sometimes younger can be found in New Zealand out busking on the weekends and it is not looked down on in as great a numbers as other places in this world. A good busker is more often encouraged and appreciated in New Zealand than looked down upon.

MWSellwood MWSellwood is a multi talented Featured Videographer for Street I Am, an established guitar busker in Auckland and has been documenting the talent on the streets there and elsewhere for a while. As you will hear in this video the talent in Auckland is substantial.

So what’s up with Auckland?. The New Zealand Herald reports today that the City is deciding whether or not to limit busking and increase the fines for infractions. Now MK Sellwood is leading a discussion in Auckland to revisit the busking law and create a more socially optimized solution.

There is a general appreciation of Street Artists in Auckland. There is no permit fee for talent exhibition on the street. When complaints are raised with the authorities they are usually very reluctant to issue more than a warning and seem to use highly admirable discretion in presenting citations. Another positive is, if someone complains about the performers the authorities often let the performer know, and log it dutifully every time. Rarely does it get to the point of a fine for the performer as buskers generally move on and come back later. So that is good for the trust of the whole community. Apparently you have to be quite a bother before anybody in Auckland is going to raise a fuss.

But some apparently do complain repeatedly and seem to get no solution. So it is incumbent upon the good offices of the government in Auckland to find which of these complainers are just cranks. People who want to impose their own sense of order over others unwilling to embrace any compromise. They also need to see if some complainers raise a genuine point which will be useful in locating the places where greater than 65db may be appreciated at certain times and where less than 65db is appreciated all the time. Why? Because sound carries differently in different places and sometimes a stakeholder has to think without being subjected to the same song they’ve had to listen to 3 times a day every day, at just a bit to loud a volume, right outside their door.

Sometimes the ability of the stakeholder to think helps keep that street a profitable place to busk. Sometimes your personality or business model just might not work for certain neighborhoods. Sometimes the culture in a place, is what gives it the prestige you want for your business or residence. So you might think before you move in and change the culture if it results in damage the desirability of the place.

Street I Am is based in the Los Angeles area and I can give you 2 examples of 2 different policies one mile apart.Venice Beach is a world famous destination where you do not even need a permit to perform or recite poetry or play a radio and ask for money. It is one of the last places in the USA where free speech of this type is still available and Google as well as other tech firms have offices. Other high end money and residents live and work here and the culture keeps them coming. Performers need to pack it up at sundown. The performers talent runs from spotty to eccentrically brilliant.Santa Monica 3rd St Promenade and Pier is a different affair. It is wealthy to solid middle income heaven and the performers all pay a reasonable fee for a permit. The talent is more professional and have cards and contact info and  often of the big stage and pre big stage level. This video, songwriting street star and busking beauty NAIA KETE performs on the 3rd St Promenade in Santa Monica California USA.

65db is the sound limit everywhere in Auckland, no matter where you are no matter what the time. This one size fits all approach by government entities is not exclusive to Auckland. It is simply the way that bureaucrats who are lazy and/or opportunistic govern and as usual we find that it may not be useful for street culture. Unfortunately now the City Council of Auckland wants to double down on this current inefficiency and make fines unbearable and start giving themselves the power of police judge and jury over any complaint. They seem to some to seek the power to decide what is art.

Performer Edward Harcourt reckons stressed Aucklanders might need a quirky street magician to slow them down. Photo / Michael CraigLearn more about the performers in Auckland in

Muffled: a city’s musical heart

By Rhiannon Marley, Joanna Mathers


Big Government Supporters Protest Big Privatization in NZ

Leftists in New Zealand who do not trust private enterprise to ever act in the best interests of the country took to the streets of Auckland New Zealand on Friday to protest selling off the assets of New Zealand’s power company. The Government wants to sell shares of the power company that they own to the public because they believe that a private company will do the job with less expense thus saving money to the consumer. Already the Prime Minister claims more than 285,000 people have pre-registered to buy shares.

However Keep Our Assets who believe that the people will be short-changed by the deal have already presented a petition of 392,000 signatures to Parliament against the sale and on April 27th took to the streets to protest.Check out the excellent video by MWSellwood MWSellwood Read an essay against the proposal by Miriam Michal, ANFS Spokesperson Emerita

Read an article explaining the pro sale view from NZ OneNews.

Stiffed Teacher’s Busking Pays Off

More news from New Zealand the street performing capital of the world. It is a lesson in what can happen when a government screw up creates an opportunity for stardom.

This is the story of Chris Green who worked as an economic teacher at Upper Hutt College. When major glitches in the  pay system for teachers called Novopay caused him to be without money for 6 months he turned to street performing to make ends meet. Now he is starring in a musical about a West Coast mining town during the Depression. The musical drama depicts the tragedy, comedy and struggles of writer Mervyn Thompson’s childhood in the town.It is called Coaltown Blues

read the article  in


Wanganui Goes On Sale

Well not exactly the whole town, but a whole lot of stuff inside the town does and the people of Wanganui are making sure that everybody who shows up will be well entertained. This is why they have decided to have a lot of street entertainers on hand to make everybody’s shopping a very pleasant thing indeed. On Saturday May 4th 32 participating businesses will be offering great discounts for one day only. “We timed the sale to coincide with the weekend before Mother’s Day this year,” says Mainstreet Marketing Manager Elise Goodge, “that way people can take the opportunity to get a Mother’s Day gift at a great price.” (from Scoop News)

The economically up and coming island nation of New Zealand is fast becoming a place recognized for not just supporting buskers and busking in general but down right embracing it and making it a part of their thriving culture. They have such great talent in Wanganui for instance, that they are having what they call ‘The Great Busk Off’ where 15 local performers will compete till 2pm for a prize of $1000. People buy tokens for 50 cents a piece and then put them into the hat of their favorite performer and the one with the most tokens wins. No official word on what happens to the money if more that $1000 worth of tokens are purchased however.

If you want to know more and find out about the town of Wanganui’s shopping app read Scoop News

Christian Manuk in Aukland

Chilean Blues and Jazz Street Performer Cristian Manuk is performing in New Zealand these days and hoping to come to America to play in Los Angeles

Auckland videographer  MK Sellwood shot this yesterday.

Amazing jazz blues busker!!

MWSellwood MWSellwood

Christian does a lot of original songs which are very inventive. Check out his MySpace page at the link above.

UK Artist Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) World Tour

From Street Venues to Concert Halls

Touring the world is nothing new to British busker Mike Rosenberg but now his concerts will be heard in concert halls rather than parks and street corners.

With the release of his latest of 4 album efforts titled All the Little Lights he starts his tour in New Zealand moving on to Australia, the UK and Europe.

He says he has no plans to give up busking for good but it probably feels pretty good to headline for a change too.

For more on his tour and plans check out the article in  New Zealand’s 3 News


video bySarah WalkerSarah Walker



Modern Street Miracle

Pledge Me Flash Mobs Street Performers with Cash

When the Creeds a family in Auckland was struggling with bills that threatened their well-being they did what anyone in their right mind would do. They gathered up the kids searched for a suitable street corner and began to sing their hearts out in praise of Jesus. That is when a group called Pledge Me assembled a flash mob to help them with their needs and faster than you can say the 23rd Psalm over $1400 had been raised.

See the video of the event by pledgemenzpledgemenz


Article by Kathryn King from the Manatawu Standard

Marking out areas for busking has livened up Broadway Ave in Palmerston North.

To encourage buskers to stop on the street, Passion Art tutor Neil Wallace was called upon to spray-paint stylised purple “Busk It” stencils on the footpath in three places along Broadway – outside Downtown Shopping Centre, Alexanders and Ballentynes/Trade Aid, with the approval of shop owners.

Council cultural co-ordinator Axel De Maupeou D’ableiges said feedback from shop owners at The Square end of the street was…


Joseph the Blogger

The story of how young Joseph experienced his first busk is a tale of heartbreak and triumph.
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