Gerry Paul's Wellington

I’m a songwriter and musician. I’ve had a relationship with Cuba Street and its characters since I was an eight-year-old busker and my great aunt Kathleen, who used to teach at her sister’s ballroom dancing studio on Cuba Street in the 1920s, would dance to me playing La Bamba on my guitar. 

When I was 18, I moved to Ireland and then toured the world playing music festivals in more than 30 countries. I would come back to Wellington every year to see whānau and fill up on my other loves - spearfishing and freediving - so I feel very connected to the ocean and sea around Wellington’s coast. I always knew I would land back here, which I did six years ago. CubaDupa founder Drew James, gave me my first “real job” as the music co-ordinator for the festival. Since 2019 I’ve been the festival director, which is pretty much my dream job. Thirty years on, I still feel such a strong connection with Cuba Street, and I still run into some of those Cuba Street buskers that I’ve known since I was a young fella. 

Bring out your wild side at CubaDupa

107 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Imagine more than 100,000 people in the precinct, parades going past, stages everywhere, dance parties, a hugging tree, street food stalls, installations, flash-mob dancers and a garden gnome riding a giant chicken, and you have CubaDupa. The locals bring out their wild side and with the audience in costume, you don’t know whether they are a performer or attendee. It’s hard to describe how epic it is and how proud I am to be in the middle of it. I have played at over 500 festivals in over 30 countries and there is NOTHING like CubaDupa.

A street festival at CubaDupa

Visit the kākā at Kāpiti Island

Kāpiti Island

Taking the tour boat Kāpiti out is a chance to see what Aotearoa was like 200 years ago - kākā, kiwi, takahē and loads more. Beneath the surface, there is another world with a rich marine life. Freediving and spearfishing at Kāpiti Island is my down time. I have been followed by sharks, wrestled a seal to get my fish back, speared a huge kingfish and had lots of great hours with good friends.

The beach at Kapiti Island.

Joy Division and Pineapple Lumps at Miss Fortunes Café

105 Hutt Park Road, Gracefield, Lower Hutt

My Thursday morning ritual is to take my five-year-old daughter for a daddy and daughter breakfast at Miss Fortunes in Seaview. The crew there humour my complicated coffee order (triple shot flat white 3/4 full with one sugar). I usually have a beef cheek and portobello mushroom pie and my daughter has a sausage roll and an apple juice. She likes to sit in the same seat every week and she also gets two pineapple lumps off Guppy the barista on the way out. They have epic playlists, from Joy Division and Talking Heads to 90s rap, to alt country, to classic 60s.

The entrance to Miss Fortune's.

Polenta loaf from Leeds Street Bakery

Unit 6G/14 Leeds Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Since lockdown, our CubaDupa team has been doing shared lunches and someone will usually go out for fresh bread. It’s either the Polenta Loaf from Leeds Street Bakery which goes amazingly with smoked kingfish, or the Square Sourdough loaf from Wellington Sourdough in Left Bank. Both bakeries are so awesome and we feel pretty lucky having them within the Cuba Precinct.

The exterior of the Leeds Street Bakery.

Banging house at Laundry Bar

240 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

I usually time my last meeting of the day on a Thursday or Friday around 5pm at Laundry Bar so I can have a pint and start gearing up for the weekend. It’s also my favourite place for a pint on my way home after a gig. They have an incredible high-end sound system built by local speaker maker, Tubs Audio. Toby the designer/engineer, builds them for wealthy clients all over the world who pay over $40K per speaker. The speakers sound especially good playing house music. The perfect way to hear some banging electronic music the way it was meant to be heard.

The bar inside Laundry.

Sweet sounds at {Suite} Gallery

241 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

{Suite} is an impressive gallery that is home to the Ans Westra exhibition, which is quite easy to get lost in for long moments. The gallery is a frequent supporter of events and has hosted concerts during Classical on Cuba. Each year, they have a dance party during CubaDupa, where the RadioActive DJs turn the little courtyard out the back into a rave for the weekend.

Inside Suite Gallery in Wellington.

Beer Capital Brewery trail

264a Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

I programme the entertainment for Beervana and Beers at the Basin and I feel like Wellington is a strong contender for Beer Capital of the world! Whenever I have friends from overseas, particularly my Irish friends who enjoy a pint or two, I take them on a tour of our local breweries. The tour includes Choice Bros (who boast the top three rated beers at Beervana 2020), Fortune Favours, Whistling Sisters, Waitoa Brewery, Garage Project Wild Workshop (which does pop up events) and Heyday Beer Co. Just out of the Cuba Street Precinct is the Fork & Brewer and Mean Doses - a great drop! 

A man pouring beer.

Get a Greek fix at Harbourside Market

Corner Barnett and Cable Streets, Wellington

It’s satisfying to go down to the Harbourside Market on a Sunday and get my fix from The Greek Food Truck. My favourite is the Aphrodite Souvlaki - grilled halloumi and bacon with beetroot relish and tzatziki. They use the famous Zany Zeus Halloumi, which is made across the road from my house in Moera. There are always buskers at the market and when the sun is out, the waterfront is one of the nicest places in the world to be.

A busy Harbourside Market.

Creative distraction at McLeavey Gallery

147 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Another gallery I love is McLeavey Gallery on Cuba Street. It’s a way of stepping out of the busy world for 30 minutes of creative distraction. I was lucky to be asked to play at a Bill Hammond exhibition recently. Bill was also a musician in a jug band and Grace, the gallery manager, wanted to acknowledge that association. The performance ended up being the catalyst for collaboration on a new festival called Konohe. The festival will include portrait exhibitions and a curated music programme across more than 10 galleries.

An exhibition at McLeavey Gallery.

Live Music on Cuba Street

Cuba Street

Whether it’s at the Rogue & Vagabond, San Fran, Valhalla or Meow, I go to a couple of gigs per week. We have a fantastic music scene in the city and if I haven’t heard of a band, then one of our “in-the-know” team will suggest it on our whiteboard at work, where we run weekly gig recommendations and new releases that we share on Instagram. It’s exciting to programme these bands on the big stages at CubaDupa in front of large audiences with local support.

Inside Rogue and Vagabond bar.