The “first” bluegrass festival in New Zealand?

Brooklands Bluegrass Festival

Right after we announced Kiwigrass we started receiving e-mails about the actual first all-bluegrass festival in New Zealand which was held near Christchurch in 1979.  It seems fitting that exactly 40 years later, we’re trying again.

John Clark of Rural Delivery in Christchurch sent these items from the original festival:

I had a lovely phone conversation with Mr. Clive Collins, the organiser of the Brooklands festival. There were about 100 people there, and 7 bands. Their stage was on the back of a truck, and they were blessed with good weather. By the time they ran this festival he had already mostly moved on to other musical genres, so never chose to do another one, and he wishes Kiwigrass all the best success and his full support.

Come straight to Kiwigrass from Auckland Folk Festival!

Narrows Park will be open and available to Kiwigrass attendees from Monday night for people wishing to come straight down after Auckland Folk Festival. Spend a few days relaxing and recovering beside the tranquil Waikato River. You can relax through the whole week or attend Academy until the festival kicks off on Friday. Narrows has also made a special deal for those attending the festival: if you stay 5 nights, you get a sixth night free.

Kiwigrass wraps up around 5pm Sunday night. You can stay at Narrows Sunday night after the festival, but there is a group coming in on Monday and everyone needs to be cleared out by 9am Monday morning.

To book accommodation for Kiwigrass email Narrows Park at Or you can call them at +647 843 6862 or +64 22 425 3526. They say that e-mail is the best option.

Kiwigrass Academy

A popular feature of many American bluegrass festivals is the pre-festival “Music Camp” These typically include intensive instrument lessons and electives on numerous music-related topics, as well as some fun with your fellow campers and time spent with the headline performers at the festival.

Part of our mission with Kiwigrass is to bring this sort of opportunity here to New Zealand. We have lined up members of Lonely Heart String Band and Bluegrass Parkway to come to the festival two days early and host our very own “Music Academy” on the Wednesday and Thursday. We’re still working to set a price for the academy and the details of what will be included. You can get a feel for what we’re envisioning here: Have a look and see what you think. If it sounds good to you, let us know, and that will help with our plans.


Our goal with Kiwigrass is to create a sustainable, ongoing festival for all of bluegrass-loving New Zealand. Part of that means raising money for future festivals.  Our primary fundraiser this year is our Raffle.  First prize is a custom made van der Gaag mandolin, made from all New Zealand native timbers. Johan is hard at work right now creating a special masterpiece just for Kiwigrass. It is looking beautiful!

Mandolin in progress, just about to start working on the neck.

Practice for some inlay work.

Second prize is a Trenwith practice banjo, or “quiet” banjo.  Made of all timber, this little banjo allows you to practice your mad bluegrass licks without driving your neighbours, partner, kids, or flatmates crazy.  A must-have for all keen banjo players!

You’ll be able to buy raffle tickets online prior to the festival, or at the festival itself. Stay tuned for more prize announcements!