Otautahi Social Centre

NOTE: This post probably contains quite a few errors and an inaccurate timeline – there is very little info online about old Christchurch venues, so I welcome all corrections and additions!

Also known as: Kreation Art House, Kreation Milk Bar, Arcadia

Location: 206 Barbadoes Street, Central Christchurch

Current Status: Operating as Arcadia

Active as a live music venue: 2007 – 2010 (Otautahi Social Centre), 2011-2012 (Kreation Milk Bar), 2017 – present (Arcadia)

Bar Manager: Matt



Capacity: 200?

All-Ages: Yes

The Otautahi Social Centre was a mid-sized old hall on Barbadoes Street in Central Christchurch which ran for a couple of years as an All-Ages-Friendly live music venue.

Being an unlicensed youth centre, there was no bar or much in the way of formal organisation, just a space set up with a small PA system, a few couches and a small kitchen and toilets out back. On occasion some kids would bring alcohol to shows (it was even openly endorsed at some punk gigs), but generally things got along in a friendly, community-orientated kind of way.

Youth events group Red Panda utilized the centre for a couple of their events, including an excellent ‘secret show’ by Die! Die! Die! and a tea party event involving Auckland trio Bear Cat which involved baked goods and a sit-down hoedown!

Die! Die! Die!’s secret show

Aside from Red Panda the centre was mostly utilized by local punk groups, putting on some pretty anarchic and (most importantly) fun events. The space was used for more than just gigs too – in fact for a period the upstairs level was used as sleeping quarters!

Otautahi Social Centre went through a few changes before and after the Canterbury Earthquake, shutting up shop before coming back again (for a short time at least) as Kreation Art House / Kreation Milk Bar, however in August 2017 the building went through a major repair job, as it was actually quite damaged in the 2011 Earthquakes.

Since late 2017 the site has been operating as ‘Arcadia’ – a retro-games arcade and bar. Though primarily focused on old school video games and pinball – Arcadia has actually functioned as a venue on several occasions, including hosting RDU’s annual ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. The site is well set up for private parties and events.


  • 2007: Starts hosting live music as Otautahi Social Centre at 206 Barbadoes Street.
  • 2011: Canterbury Earthquakes damage building, however it is still in use for some time after under the new name Kreation Milk Bar
  • 2017: After an extensive rebuild the site re-opened as ‘Arcadia’, a retro-games arcade. Several events have been held there since, including RDU’s annual ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition.

Contact Details



Live Music Reviews and Photos

Die! Die! Die! ‘Harmony’ album release tour

Andrew Wilson of Die! Die! Die!
Andrew Wilson of Die! Die! Die!
With Opposite Sex and Ipswich at Dux Live. Saturday July 28th 2012.

It’s no secret that Die! Die! Die! are one of my favourite New Zealand bands. Since the group first morphed from the ashes of Smokefree Rockquest champions Carriage H (initially taking the name Rawer), the formative duo of Andrew Wilson (Guitar and Vocals) and Michael Prain (Drums) have been pushed the boundaries and expectations of what a New Zealand group can be. Now supplemented with former Mint Chick Michael Logie on bass guitar (replacing the departed Lachlan Anderson) the group are now very influential in their own right.

You can see an element of Die! Die! Die!’s fury and passion in opening act Ipswich. The trio have made great strides in the last year establishing themselves throughout New Zealand. Ipswich have releases coming out on excellent Auckland-based independent label Muzai Records and recently won the coveted RDU ‘Round-Up’ band competition – a testament to their power in a live setting. Their songs are built on jagged guitar riffs and overdriven bass, invoking the likes of the Skeptics, the Gordons and other Flying Nun era groups.

Lucy Hunter of Opposite Sex
Lucy Hunter of Opposite Sex
Dunedin group Opposite Sex made for an intriguing contrast. With their North Island based guitarist Fergus Taylor sitting out these South Island shows, the duo of Lucy Hunter (Bass and Vocals) and Tim Player (Drums and Vocals) varied between primal drumming and sing-shout songs and melodic, whispered numbers built on Hunter’s extraordinary virtuoso approach to bass guitar. I saw elements of old-school Welsh post-punk group Young Marble Giants in their songs, very cool.

You can tell Die! Die! Die! are a very special group – as soon as the boys hit the stage the audience surged forward, hanging on every word from frontman Andrew Wilson and thrusting back and forth to the military rhythm of exception drummer Michael Prain. Starting their set with a handful of older songs before gradually introducing their new material the trio never relented in intensity. Michael Logie showed he’s no slouch on bass, adding huge crunchy, fuzzy riffs to Prain’s powerful beats and allowing Wilson to freely roam around the stage and into the crowd, leading the audience in anthemic chants ‘A.T.T.I.T.U.D’ and ‘How Ye’. The new album Harmony shows the groups continued evolution and refinement – truly one of New Zealand’s finest bands.

See more photos here.

Live Music Reviews and Photos

Opossom and T54 at Darkroom

Joe Sampson of T54
Joe Sampson of T54

There was a great buzz around this show, well before either group had taken to the stage. Rumours of an early sell-out end up filling Darkroom’s limited capacity several hours before the show had the begun. With a bustling trade the venue was humming, the room warm with eager music fans packed wall to wall, downing craft beers and sheltering for a chilly night in Christchurch.

It was left to T54 to get things started, and the slick local 3-piece we’re just the ticket, drowning the audience in volume with thick, rolling bass, rollicking, snappy drumming and the soaring guitar-work of frontman Joe Sampson. I caught bassist Sam Hood next store at Galaxy records before the show and he was picking up a copy of the new box-set of rarities from German group Can – the flowing, organic vibe of the 1970’s Krautrock mainstays gives a pretty good indication of where some of T54’s many influences lay.

Bic Runga of Opossom
Bic Runga of Opossom

Speaking of Influences, it’s pretty tangible the impact the likes of the Zombies and other 60s/70s Psych-rock groups have had on Opossom’s Kody Neilson. The former Mint Chicks frontman now envelops his songs in a sunny West Coast of the USA haze that sounds particularly wonderful when you have the likes of Bic Runga and Mike Logie as your support band. Runga surprised me with her immense talent as a drummer, pulling of slinky rolls and driving the groups opening 3 songs. F in Math / Die! Die! Die! and former Mint Chicks bassist Mike Logie has altered his own sound to fit the retro sound of Opossom, gorgeous plucked bass rhythms that had the room jumping. With Kody and and Bic sharing vocal and instrument duties the group flew through an infectious array of songs which I wish didn’t end – thankfully their debut album is a ripper!

Check out more photos here

[Published in the Christchurch Press 06/07/2012]


Sheep Technique [01/07/2008]

My very last Sheep Technique (kiwi music show on student radio station RDU); with Paul, and with an aborted interview with Cindy (previously known as Sandra) from former Flying Nun single band 25c.

Bible Black – Hell of a Woman
The Renderers – Low to the Ground
The Clean – Point that Thing Somewhere Else
25c – The Witch
Front Lawn – A Man and a Woman
25c – Don’t deceive me
The Good Housewives – Concerto in D Minor
The Stones – See Red
Spacedust – Too Much Action
3Ds – Outer Space
Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine – Woman By My Side (Mexican Man)
Ticket – Mr. Music
Shaft – The Downhill Racer
Scorched Earth Policy – Sunset on the Loading Zone
Scavengers – Mysterex
Toy Love – Bride of Frankenstein
Reduction Agents – Urban Yard
Blam Blam Blam – There is No Depression in New Zealand
Pop Art Toasters – What Am I Going to Do
Tomorrows Love – 7 and 7 Is
King Loser – 76 Comeback
Straitjacket Fits – Life in One Chord
Palace of Wisdom – Found and Lost
Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos – All of This
the Bats – Block of Wood
Snapper – Snapper and the Ocean
Bitch – Wildcat
Die! Die! Die! – Sideways Here We Come
The Androidss – Auckland Tonight
Lawrence Arabia – Half the Right Size

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Shocking Pinks

Formed by Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson in mid-2003, The Shocking Pinks are one of the most exciting and memorable bands to spring out of Christchurch in the last 5 years. New Zealand’s exponent of the dance-punk revitalisation – The Shocking Pinks encompass a vast variety of styles into their (utterly original) sound, blending disco, shoegazer guitar, new wave keys and vocals and punky rhythms into a mish-mash of undeniably danceable funk.

Valentines day 2004 sees The Pinks release their debut full-length ‘Dance The Dance Electric’ on Tim Baird’s Christchurch-based and usually house-orientated Pinacolada label. Reduced down to a four-piece (though their stylist Antonia De Bere gets a credit) of Harte, Tim McDonald (keys / percussion), Johnno Smith (bass / vocals) and Danny Bare (guitar – Ex-Substandard), the debut is startling different from their early 4-track attempts (though most of the recordings were done in such a lo-fi manner), with their heavy A Certain Ratio influence shining through on a number of tracks, which are now very varied and dynamic.

Though now somewhat missing a front-person (the album features vocal cameos by the Brunettes Heather Mansfield and original vocalist Mel Smith (Emerald Green, The Greenmatics) their sound has indeed fleshed out, and the band intends to sort out a relationship with the American DFA label.

More news came about with their January 2004 pre-release tour – after internal squabbles, the returning news was that the band had called it quits – though the album was still to be released on valentines day. After a couple of weeks, Harte re-appeared, announcing the band would march on – now with a completely new line-up featuring Harte taking both drum and bass roles, with newcomers Kit on guitar, and Marie on synthesizers (while advertising for a new drummer).

Things turned a little bizarre from this point on, with members of the original line-up reinstated for one-off gigs, then yet another new line-up and an eventual New Zealand tour (which ended unceremoniously with yet more departures). Finally, with The Pinks profile rising substantially both nationally and internationally, Harte took over sole responsibility of the group, signing a contract with Festival Mushroom (through Flying Nun), with plans for an EP and sophmoric EP in the works.

Circa 2004-5 The Shocking Pinks are a one-man recording project, though he has a new and established live band of Herbert Palmer (guitar – also of the Leper Ballet), Gareth (synth, vocals, percussion), and Tom (bass). In September 2004 Harte formed a new duo as a sideline to The Pinks, Black Albino – making their debut supporting touring US troop Hawnay Troof and high-flying Aucklanders Die! Die! Die!. Black Albino are somewhat closer to Harte’s previous outfit the Incisions, and featured former Pink and Incision Tim McDonald.

The Pinks gradually spaced out their live performances during 2005 and early 2006, after Herbert Palmer left the group for foreign shores. However in mid 2006 Harte finally got word of his impending US record deal, signing to DFA records in New York City. The group played a supposed final Christchurch show in August 2006, with Harte heading stateside for the re-release of Infinityland under DFA, with a four-record deal in the wings.

However it took almost a year for the DFA to actually release their first stateside material – a white-label 12″ record; whilst Nick was actually still in Christchurch, and even continued to play shows and house party’s before eventually leaving mid 2007. By the end of the Pinks New Zealand lifetime the group was essentially Nick fronting (on guitar) the Tiger Tones (less bassist Ashlin Raymond) – a local group the Pinks have had a strong influence on.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Dance The Dance Electric [2004 Pinacolada Pinacd02]
  • Sway [2005 Self-Released]
  • Mathematical Warfare [2005 Flying Nun Fncd494]
  • Infinityland [2005 Flying Nun Fncd497]
  • Smokescreen 12″ [2007 DFA]
  • Shocking Pinks [2007 DFA]


Live Music Reviews and Photos

Southern Amp 2008

Got some pretty good photos from Christchurch’s flapship festival; Southern Amp. Of course Die! Die! Die! were spectacular, the crowd was good and things seemed to run pretty smoothly. Oh and the Tiger Tones were totally on this time around; their seldom heard ‘Be Your Star’ being a real highlight.

Click Here for the photoset.

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Auckland 3-piece indie group who featured on Fast Food Records ‘Christmas On The Rocks’ compilation, as well as putting out an EP in 2003 which was subsequently remixed and released on the Pink Air label.

Known for their quirky live touches (when supporting the likes of Mercury Rev and Trans-Am), the band split up later in 2003, with Kane going on to join the first incarnation of spazz-punk outfit Die! Die! Die!.


  • Bruce Wurr (Drums, 1999-2002, 2015)
  • Luke Stemson (1999-2002, 2015)
  • Tim Lewton (1999-2002, 2015)


  • 1999-2002 (2015)


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Yokel Ono


Striking and popular 2-piece wunderkind featuring Thom Burton on guitar and vocals with Glen Johnson pummelling the drums. The duo formed in Hamilton back in 2000 before relocating to Auckland and immediate finding themselves on bills with the likes of Die! Die! Die! and the A Low Hum tours.

The group seemed to slip under the radar in the late 00’s, with Burton resurfacing with new group the Wilberforces and then later Glen Johnson got in to all sorts of trouble in Yemen while working as an undercover journalist – ‘Captured Journalist in Horror Cell’ [New Zealand Herald]


  • Glen Johnson (drums, 2000-200?)
  • Thom Burton (guitar/vocals, 2000-200?)


  • Our Dream Home Wrecked Our Lives [2005]
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Carriage H


Now defunct Dunedin guitar-texturalists (in the High Dependency Unit vein) that created loud, driving rock that tread the line between post-rock and heavy-metal while still in their mid teens. The group consisted of Tim ‘Tiddy’ Smith and the duo of Andrew Wilson and Michael Prain.

Great live act – I witnessed their last Christchurch gig in which parts of drum kit and amplifiers were smashed…

After winning the 2001 Smokefree Rockquest and recording the Power of Grey Skull album, Wilson and Prain moved to Wellington and enlisted Ricky French on Bass (Wilson switched to guitar and vocals) before the core of Wilson and Prain moved further North to Auckland, forming the long-standing punk trio Die! Die! Die! with Xanadu bassist Kane Goultier replacing French.


  • Tim Smith (Guitar/Vocals, 1999 – 2002)
  • Andrew Wilson (Bass, 1999 – 2002)
  • Michael Prain (Drums, 1999 – 2002)


  • Power of Grey Skull (2002, Turbine Records, TURBINE001)



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Word on the street is that this Palmerston North 4-piece metal-core / punk outfit comprised of Ted Moriarty, Andy Campbell, Shaun Anderson and Sophie Burgess are just about the best up and coming band in the country.

All four are barely out of high school, but the quartet made quite a name for themselves during 2004 thanks to the annual Smokefree Rockquest and appearances alongside Die! Die! Die! 


  • Ted Moriarty (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Andy Campbell (Guitar)
  • Shaun Anderson (Drums)
  • Sophie Burgess (Bass)


  • Cathedra (2004, Self-Released)