On 14 September 2019 the 15th Annual Russian Cultural Festival took place in Wellington,
organised by the Russian Club.
For many years in a row this event has been supported financially by the Embassy of the
Russian Federation and local organisations, including Pub Charity Ltd, the Wellington City
Council, the Community Organisations Grants Scheme, and private individuals (Tatyana
This year’s event was a magnificent occasion. Visitor turn-out exceeded all expectations,
eclipsing in numbers all previous years. And this was in spite of the fact that there was
torrential rain in Wellington and the Festival itself was being held at a new venue some
distance from the business centre. This showed once again, and without any doubt, that the
Festival is growing in popularity.
The concert hall was set up so that visitors had the maximum opportunity simultaneously to
watch the musical entertainment and to get a taste of Russian national cuisine, trying
everything and not missing anything.
Russian national cuisine was represented extensively by traditional dishes from, pelmeny and
borshch to buns and sweets and, of course, by beverages such as kvass, mors, kissel and tea-
In accordance with Festival tradition there was an exhibition of photographs and the applied
arts. A video of the history of the Russian coat-of-arms was shown.
At the entrance to the Festival hall guests were met in the traditional manner with bread-and-
salt and greeted with folk songs performed by the “Troika” ensemble.
The Festival was opened by the President of the Wellington Russian Club, Victor Gaiduch. The Mayor of
Wellington City, Justin Lester, and the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to New
Zealand, HE Georgii Viktorovich Zuev, greeted the organisers, participants and guests of the
Festival with heartfelt words of greeting.
The concert programme was opened by the “Gzhel’” chain-dance of the “Smuglyanka” dance
group from the Russian Orthodox Church in Auckland, led by Aleksandra Pavlyuk.
Later in the first part of the concert there were performances from professionals such as song-writer
ballet teacher at the EnPointe Dance Academy, Alina Kulikova (Wellington);
and head of military histirical re-enactment group “10th Stalingrad’s division” of the MRS NZ, Oleg Maksimov (Hamilton) who demonstrated a Cossack sabre dance.
The second part of the concert programme was opened by the “Hit Pump” rock band from
The “Kaleidoscope” dance ensemble led by Galina Jilina (Wellington), continued
the musical programme, followed by the Choir Ensemble from the Russian Orthodox Church
in Wellington led by Olga Popkova,
then the singers Nina Maklakova and Vladimir Zvegintsev, and, finally, Priest Aleksei Popkov with compositions on his gusli.
The third part of the concert programme comprised the local Elements rhythmic rhythmic
gymnastics team led by Sheron Duda, followed by a musical programme performed by the
“Allies” jazz group led by Vladimir Zvegintsev.
At the conclusion of the Festival all participants were awarded with certificates for their
participation in the 15th Festival of Russian Culture in Wellington.
The Russian Club wishes to thank all participants in and guests of the Festival, who all
helped to make it an unforgettable occasion. Special thanks are extended to the following
Club members and volunteer helpers who took part in the preparations for, and the work of,
the Festival: Ludmila and Oksana Bolotnyana, Margarita Gertsovich, Tatyana Grineva,
Natalya and Kseniya Loseva, Anna Karpikova, Olga Skladchikova, Natalya and Kseniya
Platova, Irina Shatalova, Marina Moore, Svetlana and Lyudmila Ksantopulo, Irina Shatalova, Anna Lawson, Anton Makarov and Harry Grimwood.
Feedback from guests indicated that everybody thoroughly enjoyed the event, which
transformed an overcast and rainy day into a brilliant happening.
Victor Gaiduch – Chairman of New Zealand Council of Russian Associations, President of Wellington Russian Club.
Photography: Sophia Gaiduch