Winter workshops 2017

Are you up for some winter music fun?   Do you fancy getting some new skills happening while the nights are long and there’s plenty of time to practise? There will be a special series of Creativity & Music workshops throughout New Zealand this winter.

Come and play music with a group of people who are also exploring self expression with sound. Bring with your voice, your instrument and your open heart.


We will be stretching, warming up, singing, writing, painting, making poems, creating rhythms, getting our groove on, listening, discovering and sharing songs.

It is not necessary to have an instrument to get the most out of this workshop however please bring any instruments you have that you like to play or would like to learn how to play.

You may also like to bring your creativity journal and favourite pen/pencils. Paper, paints, pencils and pens will be also be provided.


About your facilitator:

Karen Hunter is a experienced musical facilitator who is passionate about holding space for people to explore and expand their creative potential.

Karen has taught one to one music lessons and workshops in guitar, voice and songwriting since 1987. She has undertaken many musical studies both formally and informally and she also holds a diploma in Facilitation from Zenergy Global.

In addition to a lifetime of experience in the field Karen completed the Masters of Music programme at the University of Auckland. Karen has also taught music privately and lectured at both the UoA and at M.A.I.N.Z ( Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand).


Please contact to find out about running a Creativity&Music workshop in your area.

Student update May 2017

Hello to all my students!

If you’d like to book a lesson with me during May 2017 please contact me soon as I am creating my schedule over the next couple of days.

Thank you for all the great sessions we have had this last April, I am learning so much from each of you. Things some of you are working on include :

Using the loop station to accompany your songs,
Using the loop station to accompany your instrument practise,
Honing and crafting lyrics to your original songs,
Hitting the high notes in the songs you perform at Karaoke,
Learning circle songs and devotional chants,
Singing for healing and meditation,
Piedmont picking on the guitar,
Using the slide to solo over blues,
Vocal exercises for intonation ………. and more…..

What a variety of things I get to help you with! Thank you for bringing your enthusiasm, exploration and love of music to me 🙂

During May 2017 I will be primarily in Kapiti. I welcome new students in Kapiti – if you are interested in a lesson with me please contact me on

I will be heading up to Auckland on the week of 12-16 May and I’ll be available for sessions in my Te Atatu studio from Friday  12th – Tuesday 16th in afternoon.


For those in Nelson, Thames and Taupo – I am nursing a sore knee at the moment which mean’s I’m travelling by bus not van and won’t be able to make stops up and down the country. Perhaps you might consider a Skype lesson? Here are some student comments about my Skype lessons.

“Kāren and I have worked together face to face and also on Skype. I highly enjoy coming to visit Karen in her little creative hub, with all her tools and instruments that allow playing and improvising etc. But I also love the flexibility that Skype classes offer and sometimes it is nice to be physically in your own space while working on something.” Kath.

“We have lessons both in person and via Skype, the latter being relatively new to me, but working well nevertheless. The lessons work well for me, and open up the experience of music that works. We have good fun singing and playing, and who could ask for anything more.” Peter.

Arohanui koutou katoa!
Karena 🙂

Autumn is a time for resting

Kia ora koutou!

I have noticed in these last few cycles that my body wants to break down around Autumn equinox each year. I have had a variety of ‘symptoms’ from internal pain, sore knees and legs, adrenal fatigue symptoms (being really physically tired all the time) and one year, after catching ‘nits/headlice’, I developed formication (the sensation of ants crawling under the skin).

Each year has lead me to the same place of surrender. Mindfulness practises. Gentleness. Appreciation of sunsets. Gratitude. Rest. Less is more. Time alone.

Luckily it’s getting quicker and quicker to catch on – this year I’m on to it – I have developed a swollen knee and after just one week I see the pattern. I need to slow down. My body wants me to rest and do things that I don’t need to move around much for. It’s time to sleep, hibernate, allow the world to become smaller after a summer of festival gatherings.

I’m writing because it’s likely I am not alone! Perhaps the same thing is happening to you and you are here looking for an answer to your physical symptoms.

I encourage you to reflect on the benefit of your symptoms…. what is the pay off from your symptoms? Be honest! Perhaps, for example, you have stomach pains and you can’t eat the same food as you usually do at the moment – is it time to change your diet? Or are you unable to prepare food at all physically? Do you need to ask for help? To receive the help that is available? Sometimes the real gift is the receiving. Allow your life to flow freely, which might take you in a surprising direction rather than towards your predetermined destination.

Surrender. Smile and give thanks. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
nga mihi

Student feedback

Creativity & Music workshop THAMES June 2017

I love the way anything is possible in Karen’s workshops, how intuitively and expertly she is able to hold space, how safe I/we feel to allow what is… and from that allowing comes creation/creativity.  Like how we can create music from a picture. Kate.

What I loved was the coming together of a group of unknowns and the creation of some joyous synergy. 

I loved the way (Karen is) able to mastermind or direct the process; that she can hear all of the participants and when they should join in. The way that she is able to abstract a segment of the words written and take them to a new place, which suggests there is a richness in the material we created in such a short time, and this richness is still untapped material for development. 

What I really want is to be able to play musically with other people … and this is what we did.  Heidi

Loved the painting exercise,  but was surprised I had very few words to put on it. Delighted to  discover  it was an instrumental piece I was painting, haha! The freedom i felt playing harmonica with accompaniment from the other participants was magic. Really enjoyed seeing the joy as the others brought their paintings to sound. Heather.

Creativity & Music Workshop  April 2nd 2017

I loved the different elements of CREATIVITY we engaged in. The creative process was accessed through many forms, inspiring us to look and open other doors within our creative capacity. To allow for new and exciting ways for self expression.

Karena’s open, energetic, loving passion for her creativity is infectious and through listening participating and creating sound together, her love and passion is directed straight into me. Brooke.

Thank you so much for this wonderful gift you have – gentle – encouraging – inspiring – Safe place to explore that special part of ourselves – that loves to express and create.
Felt empowered and connected during this workshop and feel this will continue to flow in my life. Tea.

Karena, you are a fabulous musician and teacher. You make it very easy to find a voice. You found a place for every workshop participant to find a safe place within themselves from which to express themselves. Arjan.

You created an environment in which everybody was at ease and felt free and uninhibited to step beyond their boundaries. You skilfully and with great insight guided everybody to get the most out of their presence. Alistair.

Private students:

Kāren is highly tuned in to the creative potential of a person, the blocks that might be in the way and the mood of the day. In her unique, gentle and wise way she is able to facilitate a shift that allows me to be in the space where I can connect to my creativity and give voice to the things that want to come forth. She supports expression of self in ways that keep surprising me and that have made me grow, not only in regards to my original intention of wanting to learn to sing.

Kāren and I have worked together face to face and also on Skype. I highly enjoy coming to visit Karen in her little creative hub, with all her tools and instruments that allow playing and improvising etc. But I also love the flexibility that Skype classes offer and sometimes it is nice to be physically in your own space while working on something. Kath.

Kāren and I have been working together since July 2016, starting with singing and then adding learning the bass guitar. I find Kāren’s style to be relaxed and relaxing, which leads me to discovering just what I can do. It is an encouraging style, just for the joy of music. Inspiring.

We have lessons both in person and via Skype, the latter being relatively new to me, but working well nevertheless. The lessons work well for me, and open up the experience of music that works. We have good fun singing and playing, and who could ask for anything more. Peter.

I am presently teaching regularly in Kapiti, Auckland, Thames, Taupo and Skype. Additional locations within New Zealand are possible as I travel the country continually.


Musical conversations 2017

Kia ora tatou,

I am writing this ‘newsletter’ type blog post specifically for my students and those who are interested in studying creativity and music with me this year. I am organising myself a little differently in 2017.

I have some important dates at the  bottom of this newsletter and a request for students whom I have worked with for some time.

I escaped from the University of Auckland in 2010 to run away with Awakening Circus which ended up taking me out of the country for several years. The last 3 or so years however I have settled into something of an uneasy truce with the city of cars : Auckland. I have a great studio there and many contacts who make my life fun and filled with special moments. Most of you know my magic tardis at the bottom of the garden in Te Atatu.

However this year I will be basing myself in Paekakariki, on the Kapiti Coast, to study Te Reo Maori at Te Whare Wananga o Aotearoa and to enjoy living in a different location with my friends: musician Matiu Te Huki and his whanau including Erica and baby Manuariki. We sing a lot together, we dance around the living room and have a lot of fun.

Skype lessons will continue, and for some of you this will be a valuable way to keep working regularly. I plan to commute to Auckland, and Thames at least once a month ( sometimes twice ) to teach and be with my family in Tamaki Makaurau.

I will also be taking group workshops again, YAY! I love group work – it’s heaps of fun as we can bounce off each other and also try out our new songs and working songs with each other.

I’d like to find the best ways to stay in touch with you all, perhaps a blog like this could work if you sign up to wordpress so you can make comments in the box below. Alternatively we could have a facebook group, or a traditional email – newsletter. There may be other ways to that you could tell me about.

Available ‘one to one’ lesson dates are below to show when I will be in the North. I will sort out a Google calendar ASAP ( The rest of the time I will be in the Kapiti area) :

  • February 23rd – 26 – Thames 
  • February 26 – March 6th – Auckland
  • March 13 – Thames
  • March 27th – Auckland
  • Marh 31st – April 3rd – Auckland
  • April 2nd – Creativity and Music workshop – Soul Centre, Titirangi.
  • April 14-16 Thames
  • April 16 – 23 Auckland 

Finally I have a request for those of you who I have known for a while – could you please write me a ‘testimonial’ for my teaching work? I’d love to be able to share with prospective clients what it is that student’s most like about my work and what sorts of benefits this work has been for you.

For example you might include some of the following :

How long have we been working together?
What was your original reason for coming to me?
What sorts of things we have done together?
What do you like best about my approach?
Have we worked together on Skype and how has it been to work in this way?
What benefit our work has been for you musically?
Have you noticed any additional benefits?

I’d also love to hear what you think I might be able to do better as your teacher 😉

Thank you. I value our time together and wish you all the best for a fabulous new cycle of growth in 2017.



Music & Mindfulness retreat 2016

A second Music and Mindfulness retreat with Karen Hunter and Akasadaka Robison was held and Sudarshanaloka Buddhist retreat centre, near Parawai / Thames in the Coromandel in October 2016.

Here are two testimonials from participants :

“Akasadaka & Karena created a space for freedom of expression, play, joy and deep feelings to be held equally and safely ( and served to connect us so beautifully and harmoniously).” Kim – participant

“The juxtaposition of mindfulness and music was delicious for me. I appreciated that the two aspects were presented differently / separately ( although inextricably linked as this shift in focus was like a restful pause. I gained hugely from both teachers and would add that the environment physically supported the programme and the work – a true Retreat !!!” Heidi – participant.

Are you the RIGHT facilitator for this group?

An interesting new completion and celebration process emerges during a ‘wrap’ session for a hard working team. There were ten people in the group with one additional member who ‘skyped in’ for one hour during the day.

I had chosen ‘self and peer assessment’ as the heart of our schedule with warm-ups and energisers as required. To foster a sense of retrospection for the completion of a massive project we started with the processes of paintings and a walking meditation to choose an item from nature to describe our present feelings/space.

Every one was tired. Most people chose rocks, flowers, stones and pinecones.

One person produced a concrete brick, let it thud onto the floor and then collapsed in a heap and said she had no energy.

Obviously the group was ‘not up for’ a rigorous ‘self and peer assessment’ process.

My preparation had included reflecting on a list of the reasons why someone might NOT be the right facilitator for a group. This list included: ‘Do I have the RIGHT process for this group?’ and ‘ Do I know what is BEST for this group’. Answering yes to either of these questions would suggest that I was NOT the right person to be in the facilitator role!!!

The plan had to change. I shared my thoughts and asked the group for suggestions.

We decided to proceed with the self and peer process but only with the affirmative part of it, omitting the ‘what could be done differently’ stage. We created a ‘nest’ in the middle of the room, a large 2metre circular cushion, surrounded by candles. The group members took turns to lie on it and receive massages, songs and affirmations.. Each member had about 15 mins on the cushion.

The group luxuriated in each others affirmations, acknowledgements and healing attention. What manifested was a tailor-made completion, individual and group celebration in one process. Everyone had more energy at the end of the session than they did at the beginning of the day and felt grounded and complete.

Our training at Zenergy is to trust the resources of the group. This brilliant group found a way to complete and celebrate their work together while honouring the energy that was present. It may be necessary at a future time to talk about ‘what could be different’ in the groups next venture, however at this point in time what was required was an acknowledgement of Whole Personhood at it’s Zenergy finest. J


Resources: The Art of Facilitation revised edition.
Self and Peer assessment process is on page 27
The list I refer to in the blog is on page 67 in the section called ‘Being with a group’.

Music and Mindfulness Retreat – July 2015

I was part of a team recently delivering a 2 day residential creativity retreat at Sudarshanaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre in Thames, on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand.

Our retreat was called Music and Mindfulness and the team consisted of Mindfulness facilitator Akasadaka Robison, a Buddhist ordained in the Triratna order and our assistant Heather Garland, a local Thames based musician.

I lead the Music sessions with 13 participants, 6 musicians and 6 music lovers. music-and-mindfulness-2

We focused initially on the art of listening and created two soundscape stories. The group included an age range from 29 – 70 and of the older ones there were 4 ordained Buddhists. This meant that the meditation sessions were very deep and we were able to access a beautiful quality of listening very quickly.

Soundscaping is a process which invites participants to take full responsibility for the music they are creating. Music, after all, is in the reception of sound. What is music to your ears? How can you tell the difference between noise and music? When is the wind rustling a tree’s branches music to your ears and when is it annoyance keeping you awake at night?

Working in a circle we elected to tell the story of the enlightenment of Siddhartha. Some of the participants who were familiar with his story were able to share it with the group. As we were seated next to a meditation shrine featuring a life size sculpture of the Buddha there was an ‘immediacy’ to the story. Listening to the Buddhist women was grounding and helped the group centre .

These are the steps we created:

The Enlightenment of Siddhartha

  • Siddhartha’s wealthy and protected upbringing
  • Becomes aware of the suffering in the world
  • Awareness that there are those who are not suffering
  • Journey of discovery and exploration
  • Period of isolation and solititude
  • Enlightenment as the Buddha

Our next step was to explore the kinds of sounds we might associate with the different steps, and to try them vocally and with the instruments we had gathered.

Then we closed our eyes, and told our story using voices and instruments, listening to each other for orientation.

Listen to the result on Soundcloud


Inevitably, some people were unsure of where they were in the story, some were still at the beginning when the group reached the end and finished. Others felt quite unsure about which step they were at, and a deal of hilarity and a bit of discomfort arose in the end. However from a musical point of view, on listening, one can hear that the players were in deep presence and awareness.

This is the purpose of the process, to share an authentic and profound musical experience regardless of experience.

Thanks to all the participants!



I have blogged about Soundscaping before here

Transformational Festivals, NZ Summer 2015

Prana Circle stage Summer in New Zealand is full of fabulous lifestyle festivals. My favourites are the ‘Transformational Festivals’  that offer camping, musical performances, healers and workshops in modalities including: massage, yoga, tai chi, diet, meditation and what I could loosely call ‘philosophy’.

For the last couple of years in addition to performing music at the various festivals I have been introducing the work of Zenergy Global to the participants of these festivals in short, 90min – 2 hour sessions where I can present a specific experiential process and allow time to explore it with a group, discuss it and importantly debrief from it together.

This last festival season I offered Zenergy Facilitation services and workshops at Prana, (Coromandel ) , Evolve ( Nelson) and Luminate ( Canaan Downs ).

For Prana I facilitated a stage in the round, The Circle, and this was an opportunity to use facilitation techniques as an alternative to what would be called the Stage Managers role on conventional stages. I have blogged in detail about this project here.

At Evolve festival I offered 2 sessions. The first was called  ‘Being With’ which is a process exploring the 3 pillars of great facilitation ‘ Being with self, Being with another and Being with the group’ simultaneously. My second workshop was ‘Identity Check’, a process to uncover and debrief the projections that we, as facilitators, can unknowingly put on members of the groups we work with.

Seamless organisation of a busy festival programme is a big logistical challenge and details can easily go astray. I was up to run ‘Being With’ at the first spot of 10am on Saturday morning. When I turned up to the venue the key hadn’t been delivered and I faced the locked door with the knowledge that I needed to think fast and get into improvisation mode immediately as participants were already starting to arrive.

With the Sun streaming down I spied a sail cloth cover over a small outdoor playground at the adjoining kindergarden and occupied the space. The fresh air was lovely, the sail cloth just covered our group of 20 and we worked through the process using the whole garden. Participants explored the sound of their names as part of the ‘Being With’ warm up – and had conversations with each other where only their own names were spoken. A sense of joviality prevailed. As part of the process we settled into a group vocal improvisation, taking care to hear each member of the group, even the quiet voices. We worked with mirroring the sounds around us, focusing on our own and each others sounds. We ran the group improvisation twice. The first time just as we started to make sound the Kindergarden alarm went off! We worked with it….. and at the exact moment that we finished so did the alarm. We were astounded.

 Luminate Festival is held on the top of Takaka Hill in the South Island and runs for over a week. It is a larger gathering with around 2000 people attending. Workshops are a big attraction and the first of the two I ran was Mining the Gold / Powerful listening which attracted over 80 people.  As we could have up to 2 hours for this session I started with the ‘ Being With’ material and moved into the listening exercises after we had time to really get centered. The marquee was buzzing with conversations in pairs where people listened to their partners speak and listened for specific attributes, including : commitments, concerns, contributions and magnificence. The idea of listening for such profound and positive messages in each others words was inspirational for the group and the session was potent.

My final workshop of my summer adventure was ‘Identity Check’. This is an important tool for a facilitator as we must be very clear when we are working with groups of people that we are not projecting our own baggage and past relationships onto the people we are working with. The session was intense. By this stage of the festival people were up for some meaty work and as the session was run at the time of a rain storm we had a few people who may not have found their way into the tent otherwise. Some of my best memories of this session was the 2 young men who were reminded of their mother by one of the women in the workshop. Such a common and compelling projection that demands debriefing to keep the relationship authentic. We were able to use the idea of debriefing this projection by proxy, without the woman who sparked the memory being aware that two men were working on their projections towards her. It was a win win for the guys, and they were very happy they had stumbled in to the workshop, unaware of the healing work they would undertake.

Thanks for reading my post, if you are interested in more of my work and my personal blog you can find me here


The Circle – A place to breathe music. Prana Festival 2015

20 January 2015
Updated 13 October 2105

The Circle Stage first ran as a performance space using Zenergy Facilitation processes at Prana Festival in Opoutere, Coromandel Peninsula over the 4 day New Years Celebration Dec 30 2014 – Jan 2 2015.

This blog is here to document The Circle project and hopefully to inspire a conversation about the use of facilitation tools within a transformational festival environment.


My area of expertise is in musical performance and I am a Zenergy Global trained facilitator . I am a regular attendee at transformational festivals in New Zealand and when I was asked to take on running one of the day stages at Prana it was logical for me to combine my interest in facilitation with musical performance. The group I worked with was known as the Prana Artist Collective. Through my work with this group I was able to introduce some of the basic  facilitation processes to the Prana administration team.  Once the festival was running my work was contained within the Artist Collective. I used a facilitation model for a job usually referred to as : stage managing, chief, crew boss or even the loaded “Head of Department” or open mic MC.

One of my motivations for writing this blog is to share the learnings with the rest of the Prana crew, another is to share with the Zenergy team and other interested parties. I also offer this blog to artists wanting to perform at Prana festival in the coming years to describe the kind of quantum shift in focus and energy that is available.

I saw that facilitation tools would aid the evolution of this transformational festival on an administrative level making it easier and less work to run.  Festivals in general can be run in a more grounded and holistic fashion than is presently taking place in many of them by harnessing the collective intelligence of the groups involved . I believe this will result in less burnout, more fun and connection and therefore contribute to the functional development of the communities around these important events.

The performance space which was developed for Prana 2014/15 was called The Circle : A place to breathe music.

I’m going to start here with the fundamental aspects of the role of a facilitator. This work offerings potential solutions to some common shortcomings within musical performance environments and open mic style events. The Circle Stage was created specifically for Prana Festival with involvement of the Prana administration team and the Artist Collective that formed to populate it. I have included information about the logistics of the zone: our physical environment, circular stage, ambient lighting & sound design.

I would like to acknowledge the Artist Collective itself and how the Zenergy Global Facilitationtools impacted on our group including : pre-festival networking, welcoming and closing ceremonies, inter-artistic relationships, day to day running of the performance space, music and dance performances, interaction with the wider festival, and creation of the FINALE performance.

Zenergy Global Facilitation 101

Zenergy Global identifies is purpose as: Whole people cooperating in a sustainable world. Facilitation as a role can be summarised as : assisting the group to achieve it’s purpose by introducing a structure of simple, transparent communication processes along with a deep understanding and attention to universal human emotional, intellectual and kinesthetic needs.

The purpose of the Circle Stage was “a place to breathe music’ and participants were selected from the artist application list against this purpose – how would each group member support a energetic dialogue with the audience to enable the breathing of music?

Our group ‘culture’ or ‘ way of working’ :  Avante-Garde, Loungey, Spunky, Weird, Truthful, From the Heart, Cosmic, Soulful and Human. It was quite beautiful to see these attributes manifesting in the art produced on our stage.

Avoiding common problems in ‘open mic’ events.

Usually the facilitators role is clearer if they are purely a process guide and not involved in the actual content of the groups purpose. Therefore I did not perform personally. We wanted to create a ‘charged’ listening environment capable of healing the audience and performers alike. We were keen to avoid typical open-mic issues like : clashes of artist egos, energy wasted by prioritising ones own performance over that of other participants, artists talking through the performances of others. The emphasis was on sensitively to the integrity of The Circle’s purpose and the audiences experience.

A good facilitator can access help from the group itself using processes and tools including :

  • responding great suggestions as they emerged
  • harnessing the energy of the group
  • working with the mood and feel in the space
  • adjusting energy levels to suit

The Artist Collective and with their enthusiasm and reception of the idea worked to achieve this clear purpose.

Instrumental in maintaining the positive energy in the zone was the concept ‘BEING WITH’ – being with self, with each person in the group and with the group as a whole.

We all held the role of reinforcing the purpose and culture of the space itself and to graciously accept the energetic offerings of the people present.


Having played Prana at approximately 5 NYE festivals and suggested to the admin team that the effects of unstable weather patterns during the Coromandel over New Year could be partially solved by creating a large covered stage which would keep the audience out of the sun/ dry. A circlar central ‘stage in the round’ would allow everyone to see the stage, and for the stage to remain dry if the rains came.


At Prana there are always many festival participants who are musicians, and who would be happy to receive tickets, petrol vouchers, food allowances or guest tickets for loved ones. Artist remuneration was a combination of these items.

Artist Applications included an explanatory brief for the zone which explained the purpose: ‘a place to breathe music’ – We were interested in multi instrumentalists, solo artists and support musicians so we recreated the application form around this new concept. The fees and terms of the energy exchange were made explicit, all applicants were asked to apply under these terms

The applications came in fast and by the cut of date on September 30th we had about 60 musicians from which to select a collective of 20 to populate the schedule.

The musicians would be engaged in the following subgroups.

  • Grounding – house band/ supporting musicians
  • Shining – significant songwriters or musicians with a specific style that required a focused set to explore their artistic point of view.
  • Soloists – who could jump up with anyone at any time and embellish.
  • Dancers – who were to take the aural spectrum into a visual form.
  • Surprises – there were some groups on the team that I had no idea what to do with, but trusted that it would be obvious when we all got there.

We prioritised acts who would attend the full 4/5 days of the festival – not what we call ‘fly by nighters’, but rather artists who would be happy to attend the performances even if not playing. We were aware that by providing an aesthetically beautiful space, food and great company this requirement would flow easily. However to get it right I did meet with most applicants using video skype calls and took plenty of time to explain and integrate the concept. The energy exchange similar to a ‘festival volunteer’ arrangement and we asked for 8 hours of attendance in performance space, primarily listening and giving attention, but ready to play if required.

We called it a ‘listening’ space and looked for artists who were ‘good listeners, who had nothing to prove, who had no problem with sitting in silence and were able to recognise when there was enough sound on the stage and they were not needed. This was articulated in every discussion with prospective applicants.

The project to started with introductions on an email thread to help establish the group as a union of diverse artists.  The majority of the group responded.


Parameters included :

  • no drum kit
  •  acoustic instruments,
  • a mix of planned and spontaneous performances,

We needed an engineer with experience in working ‘open mics – i.e no time for sound checks, lots of mics onstage on previously unseen instruments, a mixture of professional and amateur players….. someone comfortable to basically fly blind with a smile!!!

In retrospect I can see that we fulfilled the culture objective of ‘safety, and nurturing the audience’ with what we manifested.


We used a ‘stretch’ tent hired and erected from a local company – this gave us a 20×15 metre cover with elegant lines and angles. It was an unusual shape which complemented the idea. During tent construction it was important for me to be present, patiently guarding the integrity of the idea and while watching the erection I could get a better idea of what was possible. Basically the role of facilitator holding the space started long before the festival.

It’s worth noting here that If I hadn’t been present from the first moment the idea started to manifest physically the plan could have been altered by negligence. This has been an important learning for me which is modeled within the Zenergy Facilitation course leaders work: someone needs to take responsibility for the physical space at every step and ‘hold’ the creation of this fundamental aspect. At Prana I inhabited the zone from the moment the truck appeared on site, mainly sitting still, watching, being available and ready to intervene where nessecary. I needed to be resolute in the intended design or it could have been altered at every single step, from pole position, stage shape, light rigging etc. There were many ‘suggestions’.

The original ‘vision’ included a circular stage area and this idea had to be ‘shepherded’ carefully as it was outside anyone’s recent experience. There were quite a few naysayers and people who didn’t ‘get it’, as well as plenty of suggestions of other shapes that could have worked better.

The stretch tent has a soft roof, and the tips of the poles disappeared inside the canopy. There was a fairly dramatic loss of light typical of a shady tree or cool cave on a hot day. The tent was sourced by Vasku and the guys were great to work with, they put it up effortlessly and responded to my request to swap the usual central pole to a tri – pole design. I did have to do some fast talking at one point offering to take an alternative central pole and erect it ourselves in the advent of a downpour, but in the end they agreed it wasn’t nessecary.

Our circular stage was 40cm high and 3.6metres diameter. It was not a huge space: the intention was to work with groups of 3-5 seated in a circle. The visual was spectacular, there was no single ‘hot spot’ on the stage, the whole thing was charged by the attention of the musicians and the audience combined.


In the initial design the feminine womb shape of the circle was enclosed by a triangle of poles of masculine energy. The three paths that led in to each of the three posts symbolised the fallopean tubes and birth canal.

In this arrangement all of the speakers and the lights were able to be concentrated in three places. We had 2 or 3 amps on stage at any one time and the larger bass amp leaning back from the floor.

The stage was built over 2 fairly relaxed days. We used palettes as the primary structure and a straightforward grid type cross beam supports with the edges reinforced with offcuts.

Once the skirt panels went on it was ‘solid as’.

Circle stage SOUND DESIGN
created by Moby and Laurence Diack 

The speakers were set in 3 stereo pairs, one of which faced Laurence the engineer (the baddest ears in the house ).

Here is the spec for the PA :
3 pairs of JBL SRX712M speakers placed at 120 degree intervals around the periphery of the stage on tripod stands to give even coverage of the 3 sectors of audience. These were driven from the L and R outputs of the mixer via a QSC PLX3402 amplifier.

A JBL PRX618 powered sub at the edge of the stage operated in “aux fed sub” mode from the mixer so it would only be used on channels that actually had program material which needed low end reinforcement.
4 JBL “Control 25″ small speakers at 90 degree intervals around the outer periphery of the tent. These were powered by one channel of a QSC PLX3402 amp in mono driven from an aux channel on the mixer. The other channel of that amp drove an additional pair of JBL SRX712M speakers used as foldback wedges on stage.
Mixer was an Allen & Heath Mixwizard 16:3 which has onboard effects. There was also a front of house FX rack (shared with mainstage) containing graphic equalisers etc. On stage was an assortment of mics (mainly Shure SM57s & 58s) and DI boxes.

Moby made several metres of cable housing through which we could lay our cables safety in any direction – these were made from ply, in 1m x 30cm lengths, and thick plastic half pipe. The half pipe was hinged to the ply in two places. We used these for the snake of cables running from the sound desk to the stage itself.

While in use the stage was surrounded by instruments in cases, this area was kept clear overnight to avoid it becoming a mess, uncollected instruments were put into the dressing room. ( This aspect of cleaning things up could have been delegated to the artists themselves, by the last day I had intervened but it took us a while to ‘get it’.)

The feel of the space fulfilled the purpose and culture in every way from my point of view. The audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Creating paths between the mats directed the audience throughout the space leaving the ones sitting, lying, meditating, eating and listening were undisturbed. Interestingly the last day, the one I dubbed ; ‘day of anarchy’ was the Jan 2nd gig and the mats had all been moved and messed up by workshops and general mayhem so the paths disappeared – this did have an effect on the space, and I  observed the need for chaos, with an edge of desperation seeping in to the space as the need of people who wanted to play became urgent.

Coincidences and Gems. 


After the initial period of introductions that had taken place on line and the whakawhanaunga ritual held on the first night, the artist collective was very cohesive and mutually supportive. They all understood that if they wanted to play they just needed to be sitting there giving their attention to the stage and eventually they would be playing on it.

I was careful to put the most experienced Grounding musicians on the first day – so the rest of the collective could see the vision appear clearly. Rob, Dave and Christine did a great job on days 1 and 3 as did Adventures with Rhubarb who were all under 20 and classically trained multi instrumentalists on days 2 and 4.

Matching up Shining artists with the appropriate Grounding band was a consideration and for this I took into account the stated wishes, comments and enthusiasms of the artists themselves.

At the last minute I dropped the listing for the final act of the tent and keep the whole afternoon free, this was a well foresighted decision.

What occurred spontaneously on the Day of Anarchy ( Jan 2nd)  is that the Sambatron group needed another slot to play so I put them on last at 3:45 and they played the show out and drew people out into the field to dance – it was a lovely energetic closing of the first part of the project and they ended up able to play for about 30mins. Win / Win.


I had asked for and been granted a 90 min closing spot on the Main Stage at the end of the last night. I was unprepared for the level of apprehension I would feel as the date got closer and the reality of transposing our small stage gifts to the audio, lighting and physical dimensions of the Main Stage.

I disclosed my concerns to the Main Stage stage manager and artistic director and discussed the possibility of repositioning this event to the Circle itself after the Main Stage wrapped up. After a Zenergy supervision conversation I handed all planning of the FINALE over to the Circle Artist Collective to create and execute by facilitating a meeting with them where they created the programme themselves and Laurence our engineer created a technical run sheet he could work from. It was nerve-racking to hand it over but this is one of the skills of facilitation and it definately made the FINALE much more powerful, the artists were on fire and the audience was ecstatic!

thanks for reading!

I have created a public facebook foto album for this project here