Alex Hockley is the new Festival Director for Wellington Heritage Week and will take the reins for the 2022 festival.
Alex has a background in heritage, technology, and Pōneke’s start-up scene. His company, Hiamo, previously hosted Augmented Reality tours of the Wahine Disaster in the festival and he was a Festival Coordinator in the 2021 festival team. Born in Wellington and now living in Newtown, he is interested in community, innovation, and how the region can carry its stories forward.
“My interest in heritage started when I was a child, as my grandad shared stories of scrapping the Wahine after it wrecked in the Wellington Harbour”, he highlights. “We are currently planning the next installment of the festival and will announce how event hosts and volunteers can get involved soon”.
David Batchelor, the festival’s founder and director since 2017, says that “it has been an honour growing the festival over the past five years and working alongside the region’s community organisations, individuals, businesses and public entities”.
The festival started in 2017 with 24 events in Wellington City and was established as the independent Wellington Heritage Week Trust the following year. Since then, it has gradually expanded its engagement across the region to incorporate the Hutt Valley, Porirua, and Kapiti Coast.
“At the heart of the festival has been community organisations and individuals who have buoyed the festival through its growth”, David says.
“I would also like to acknowledge the support of Cr Nicola Young who encouraged and provided guidance to the festival from the start, and the support of Wellington City Council Mayor Andy Foster and the council’s funding and communication teams”.
“In Lower Hutt, Deputy Mayor Tui Lewis, Pam Hanna from Petone Historical Society, and Petone Library’s Liz Castle were critical to the festival’s first expansion beyond Wellington City and for their ongoing work brainstorming event ideas, building a network, and hosting events for Lower Hutt”.
“I also owe a debt of gratitude to Reid Perkins from the Upper Hutt Library. Reid hosted the popular screening of local archival footage in 2019 and put me in touch with the wonderful Yvonne Airey from Golder Cottage, who has been involved since 2018”.
“Karen Astwood from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Robyn Cockburn from Victoria University of Wellington’s Museum and Heritage Studies course went above and beyond to support the festival each year”, he acknowledges.
“Lastly, the team of Wellington Heritage Week 2021 were indispensable to the festival’s recent successes. Henry Buckenham, Clemence Galot, Brittany Jacobsen, Millie Burton, and Alex Hockley enabled the festival to offer new events and reach new audiences, create a popular newsletter and blog, and refine the event application systems to improve the experience for event hosts”.
In 2022, David plans to move away from Wellington to pursue a career in the heritage sector.