Action from Friday night’s Masked Parade on Trafalgar St. The parade is a part of the Nelson Arts Festival. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Masked Parade highlights another top arts festival


From taniwha to astronauts, and butterflies to dragons, the streets of Nelson were swarming with people for the 21st annual Masked Parade on Friday.

Over 1500 people took part in the ‘Flights of Fancy’ parade while a large crowd flocked to the streets, watching schools, groups and individuals fly on by.

Among all the colour and creativity was Tasman School’s unique, pure white entry – ‘A Gondwana Dream’ – which won it both the school category and the Kim Merry Supreme Award.

The school was a stark contrast to all the multi-coloured entries, and featured native creatures such as moa, tuatara and kiwi walking alongside a long white cloud feature – a nod to the country’s Maori name.

In the school category, Tasman was followed by Mahana School, while in the group category Electrix Cheerleading placed first, ahead of Girl Guides Nelson.

Action from Friday night’s Masked Parade on Trafalgar St. The parade is a part of the Nelson Arts Festival. Photo: Jessie Johnston.The Purple Lepidoptera won the individual category, with Dragon and Whelp as runner-up, and Waimea Intermediate were given the highly-commended award.

Judge Elaine Ang from the Nelson Youth Council says, while Tasman stood out, judging this year’s Masked Parade wasn’t easy.

“It was a really hard decision, especially with so many awesome ideas, and you could see they had all put a lot of work into it,” she says.

Tasman School parent Saramea Waterman says the parade was “absolutely fantastic”.

“It was a great atmosphere. The crowd was so responsive, and it was just such a fun thing for the kids to be involved in,” she says.

“There is just so much creativity in Nelson, and it’s great to see it out here on the streets.”

Nelson Arts Festival team leader Axel de Maupeou says the event couldn’t have run any better, and he was impressed by the sophistication of all the costumes displayed.

“They were fantastic – the level of creativity and imagination displayed was absolutely mesmerizing, and almost all were made out of recycled materials,” he says.

The parade kicked off the last weekend of another successful Arts Festival, which officially finished yesterday.

Axel says that this year’s festival went very well, and the feedback they have received so far has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“I think it just shows that we’re still able to engage new audiences, while still keeping our fellow supporters interested – it is a great achievement for us,” he says.

For our photo gallery and video of the Masked Parade, head to