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Christchurch Lures Black Seeds Talent South

A thriving arts scene and world-class performance infrastructure were big motivators for Barrett Hocking and his wife Sonia to move south to Ōtautahi Christchurch. With family nearby and access to an epic lifestyle, it was the obvious choice.

The Black Seeds trumpeter moved to Ōtautahi Christchurch in early 2019. Having called Wellington home for more than 15 years, Hocking said he was stoked to find a new home in the south.

“Yeah we love it, everything is just amazing so far,” he said.

“There is such a good community of musicians, always has been, and an awesome number of gigs and venues.”

There is such a good community of musicians, always has been, and an awesome number of gigs and venues.”

Barrett Hocking

The pair bought a house overlooking the city’s south-eastern bays and the South Pacific Ocean. He said the house was in a dream location, with proximity to the hills, the coast, and a few local watering holes.

“I get out into the hills daily to get in some trail running. I just got back from a 30km run around the top of the Port Hills and out to Godley Head – great times.”

Alongside touring Australasia with The Black Seeds, Hocking is a trumpeter in both Orchestra Wellington and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Easy driving access in and out of the city, and a well-serviced international airport made it easy to tour, already since moving to Christchurch Hocking has toured Bali, Europe, Vanuatu and Australia.

“I have a teaching and recording studio at The Piano which is right in town, close to New Regent St and all the cool stuff that there is down there,” he said. A favourite hangout was The Last Word, a whisky bar over two cosy floors that spills out onto the paved lane.

A recent highlight for the musician was playing the first show in the restored Christchurch Town Hall, a gig with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

“That was pretty special to play, even just to be in that amazing room. Awesome,” he said.

“So many venues in Wellington are getting shut down because they need strengthening. I mean, the Town Hall and St James Theatre in Wellington are both closed, which is huge for Wellington, to have two major venues out of action. We’re very lucky with the quality of venues here in Christchurch.”

Hocking said it was high time people came to “check out what’s happening down here”, with so many people’s perceptions of Christchurch outdated.

“There are big concerts in Hagley Park, cool gigs at Little Andromeda, and everything is being rebuilt stronger and better. It’s a no-brainer really.”