Wellington's Photival festival ready to open with a bang

Wellington has a well-earned reputation as an creative city, but it may surprise you to know it hasn't hosted a photography festival for a decade.

When British photographer Demi Heath moved to Wellington last year, her first question was: "When and where is the photography festival?"

"To come to the creative capital of New Zealand and discover that there is actually no photography festival, when there are so many other festivals going on, was quite amazing to me."

So she's set up Photival, Wellington's first photography festival for 10 years.

"I feel like I arrived at the right time," Heath says.

The festival takes over seven venues throughout central Wellington, which together will host more than 100 works from 31 photographers over the next two weeks.

It's a risky undertaking for its first ever attempt, but the organisers are confident they can pull it off.

Photival producer David Goldthorpe says the November earthquakes presented some challenges after some of their venues were rendered out of action. But it didn't stop their vision.

"One of the challenges is we haven't done it before, but our own hubris has put us in a situation where we want to open with a bang."

Photival aims to start discussions around social impact, while also raising money for 10 charities.

Each installation is connected to a specific charity, and it's hoped visitors will be inspired through the images, and take action.

Heath says photography's current ubiquity helps their cause.

"Our image literacy is getting better, so it's about linking that literacy up with some positive action and some positive change."

Photographs from all over the world have been sent over and printed out. There's also been an open call for Kiwi photographers.

"There's a lot of people in New Zealand stoked to have a New Zealand-only open call. There's a large number of international open calls you can go for, but it's great to have something for Kiwis," says Goldthorpe.

Some of the prints will be returned, while others will be auctioned via Trade Me after the festival.

Photival organisers hope to take the rest on the road sometime soon.

Wellington City Council and Creative New Zealand helped fund the festival.