Icelandic influence for Waitetuna circus’s 10th anniversary shows

It’s been a real circus lately – and a bit of a juggle too – at the Waitetuna home of Damian Gordon and Irene Goed.

A whole troupe of performers have been based there, practising their routines ahead of a summer tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raglan’s own Circus Aotearoa.

The 10-strong contingent includes daughter Artemis and son Matthias who’s been based a few years now with the circus in Iceland, while also busking around Europe. Matthias has, this time, brought a friend and fellow performer – an Olympic gymnast – with him from that Nordic circus, which is close to the Arctic circle.

“I’ve come back specially from Iceland where I’ve been working with Cirkus Island,” says the former Raglan Area School student who made it to the semifinals of TV’s ‘New Zealand’s Got Talent’ five years ago with his roller boller balancing act.

The now 22 year old reckons he’s dreamt of establishing a connection between the two circuses since his first trip to Iceland in 2014, and at last it’s a reality.

Also based recently at his family home on an 18-hectare bush block off Old Mountain Road have been five other circus performers, he says.

“There’s a French guy from Estonia, twin acrobats from Sydney, a Kiwi back for her second tour and another doing his fourth (tour with Circus Aotearoa),” Matthias reels off.

They all do the choreography together  for the show, which kicks off tomorrow in Hamilton and arrives here in Raglan next week for six performances through to Waitangi Day.

“First we look at the tricks we have in common,” explains Matthias, who’s been performing since the age of nine. “We get them sorted, add some more then put together a few sequences.”

So what specifically can circus-goers expect from this tour, a good six years on since Circus Aotearoa’s big top last appeared in Raglan at the rugby grounds?

Well younger sister Arty, as she’s called, is described by Matthias as a “hooping” whizz who manipulates multiple hula hoops on different parts of the body like her neck, knees and arms.

And their mother, Irene, has a foot-juggling act while dad, Damian, is ringmaster and clown.

Matthias himself – having shed his ‘Alfred the Circus Nerd’ persona of old – still does a roller boller act, and juggles, but together with three other “boys” also does a ‘Toss the Girl’ act.

“We throw two girls around between us and it’s a lotta fun,” he laughs. “ I honestly think it’s my favourite thing to do in the circus.”

Billed as “beautiful aerial angels”, the girls are acrobats or flyers who also do hoop and silk routines, performing acrobatics while hanging from a fabric.

Matthias will perform with Circus Aotearoa – started by his parents back in 2008 when they bought up all the gear including the big top from Whirling Brothers’ Circus – all this season before returning later in the year to his home and girlfriend in Iceland.

He says summertime there is great but in winter it’s awful – “dark for 24 hours, icy, cold, snowy, windy.”

That’s when “we train”, he adds. “And sleep.”

*See the show at the rugby grounds from Saturday Feb 3 to Tuesday Feb 6. Book online at

*To go in the draw for a complimentary ‘Two For One’ ticket just email with ‘Circus Aotearoa’ in the subject line and your contact number.

Edith Symes