Welcome to the Southern Lakes Arts Festival, Aspiring Conversations 2024

4 minutes read
Posted 8 March, 2024

We believe in the transformative power of the arts to spark conversations, challenge perceptions, and connect people. Alongside showcasing incredible performances that move our audiences, our festivals stimulate dialogue on critical issues, encouraging reflection and exploration of new ideas, encouraging personal growth, cultural understanding, and social cohesion.

Aspiring Conversations 2024 has actively collaborated with local organisations, schools, and community groups to ensure accessibility and inclusivity. By engaging with these groups, we aim to raise voices, celebrate diversity, and promote a sense of belonging for all.

Aspiring Conversations 2024
Festival of Ideas & Kōrero 4-7 April


THE DRINKING GAME: Uncorking Alcohol's Grip with Guyon Espiner, Lotta Dan, and Paddy Gower

This is an eye-opening session as we delve into the complexities of alcohol’s influence on our lives and society. Sunday, April 7, at 11am at the Lake Wānaka Centre.
Unlock the truth behind the drinking culture as Guyon Espiner - RNZ broadcaster and author of “The Drinking Game,” Lotta Dan (Mrs D) - renowned writer of three best-selling books about alcohol, and Paddy Gower - political journalist and National Correspondent for Newshub, gather to unravel why the odds are stacked against those seeking sobriety.
Each speaker shares their personal journey and the motivations behind quitting the booze. With raw honesty and insight, they explore the societal influences shaping drinking habits and our relationship with alcohol.


WHAT IS THE TIPPING POINT? Unraveling Climate Change and Urging Political Action

Don’t miss this crucial conversation to unravel what is the tipping point for climate action and its implications for our shared future? Sunday, April 7, at 1 pm at Lake Wānaka Centre.
Climate change, often perceived as remote from our daily lives, becomes glaringly evident during extraordinary weather events or as we witness the inexorable shifts, such as the receding snow-line or rising sea levels.
Discover the tipping point for political action and effective communication on global warming with our speakers:
James Shaw - Co-leader of the Green Party and former Minister of Climate Change.
Journalist, Rod Oram, has attended the last two major climate conferences - in Egypt and Glasgow.
Sophie Handford, a visionary leader, mobilized 170,000 people across New Zealand in 2019 through School Strike 4 Climate.
Monique Kelly, with a background in the International Labour Organisation, co-founded Revology and Wao Aotearoa, focusing on driving action towards a thriving, low-emissions future.
This panel discussion also features two senior students from Mt Aspiring College, providing a youth perspective on climate issues.

QUINTESSENTIALLY IRISH ELOQUENCE: A Literary Journey with Claire Keegan and Audrey McGee

Immerse yourself in the allure of Irish charm and the enthralling stories shaping the global impact of Irish literature. Sunday, April 7, at 9 am, at Lake Wānaka Centre.
Prepare to be captivated as Irish writers continue to take the world by storm. Join the Zoom discussion for Quintessentially Irish: hosted by Claire Mabey from Verb Festival, delving into the exquisite literary creations of two remarkable Irish authors.


AI VERSUS LIBRARIANS: Battle of the Book Recommendations

Dive into the literary showdown of the century at “AI VERSUS LIBRARIANS” on Friday, April 5, at 6 pm in Lake Wānaka Centre. 60 minutes of pure fun as artificial intelligence goes head-to-head with the combined wisdom of our brilliant librarians.
In this unique and entertaining session, audience members have the chance to ask our panel of experienced librarians for personalized reading suggestions tailored to their tastes. Meanwhile, ChatGPT, our trusty AI companion, will analyze the same interests to generate its own reading list. The big question: which list will the audience prefer? This delightful battle is a partnership between Ōtautahi Tūrunga Library and Wānaka Library, originally presented at WORD Christchurch. Don’t miss the chance to witness the clash of intellects in this literary showdown!


KO KĀI TAHU ME TE TIRITI: Understanding the impacts of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Explore the impacts of historical events with “KO KĀI TAHU ME TE TIRITI” on Saturday, April 6, at 11am in Lake Wānaka Centre.
For 60 insightful minutes go back to the autumn of 1840 when seven Kāi Tahu rakatira signed a copy of Te Tiriti o Waitangi at Ōnuku, Ruapuke Island, and Ōtākou.
This significant moment paved the way for major land purchases between 1844 and 1864, as the Crown acquired over half of New Zealand’s landmass from Kāi Tahu owners. Despite these crucial events, Te Waipounamu and Kāi Tahu often receive little attention in general discussions of Te Tiriti.
“KO KĀI TAHU ME TE TIRITI” is an opportunity to educate yourself in our history, gaining a deeper understanding of the events that shaped Aotearoa. Don’t miss this enlightening session exploring the history of Kāi Tahu and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.



Join us on Saturday, April 6, at 1pm at Lake Wānaka Centre for an enlightening 60-minute session with Max Harris, a former Rhodes Scholar and progressive political thinker. Don’t miss this thought-provoking event that intertwines personal growth, health, and politics.
We delve into his transformative journey, from academia to the unexpected challenges of health and mortality in his mid-20s and 30s. Max’s unique perspective, shaped by personal encounters propels discussions on loneliness, care, and the intricacies of our healthcare system.
Drawing from his experiences in hospitals, he sheds light on profound insights into modern-day living. Having been published in the European Human Rights Law Review, the Journal of Contract Law, and the New Zealand Universities Law Review, Max is no stranger to the academic realm. Max brings a wealth of knowledge to this session.

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