Wanaka’s wonderful week

Some Wanaka residents are speaking out about the increasingly pricey town amid an influx of...
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This week I’ve been thinking about festivals again because, as I write, it is five days until the ninth Festival of Colour, which I’ve been involved with now for 10 years, writes Liz Breslin. 

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
(It’s every two years so that maths does stack up.) And so to celebrate I thought I’d give you six things I’m loving about these seven days in Wanaka.


and I would like to reminisce about the times that I was the princess of it. Being princess included "overseeing" the construction as people in hard hats and steel-capped boots wielded massive pipes, erected paua-inlaid columns and fluffed velvety curtains. Then, in my first year on that job, I got to stand at the door, arms folded, as my neighbours, who were in the local show, Witches over Wanaka, tried to get in, ticketless, to whatever music show I also wasn’t watching. Those were the days. One thing that I learned from this was that folding my arms does not give me any sense of authority. I’m looking forward, in the palace, this year, to watching The Locals, Rosie Spearing and Lily Rose Shaw, who I knew when they were little. I have a ticket.


are brilliant. I know that there are some who have been volunteering for all nine of the festivals. Every time the organisers say "We literally couldn’t do this without you", they are speaking the absolute truth. I know this because once upon a time after I stopped being the arms-folded princess, I was volunteer co-ordinator, and this year I get to be volunteer-and-ticket-scanner-App co-ordinator and the best part of it already is corresponding with the volunteers and catching up with them again for our heady times together at the doors.


I think I mean two things by this. One is I love how the work that comes here goes to other festivals around the country, doing the festival circuit. How we become part of a travelling conversation. And two is that I’m so very much looking forward to seeing actor Roy Ward reading playwright Victor Rogers’ script of writer Peter Wells’ Facebook posts that became the book that is Hello Darkness. Because what a gift it is to see these workings.


which I keep forgetting to mention to people because being the writer and not the people who have been making it 3-D, it’s been differently on my timeline. It’s called #thatwanakatour and it is a play set on a coach tour (as opposed to a bus tour because, fun fact, coaches take tours, buses run routes) which started out being supposed to be funny but how funny is anything about tourism and coach tours and tour guiding right now? It’s based a bit on my time I spent tour guiding and a bit on C.P. Cavafy’s poem Ithaka, and a bit on the actualness of Wanaka and, of course, where would #thatwanakatour be without #thatwanakatree?


When I spoke to the other virtual residents from my Norwich residency over Zoom last week, they said "How’s the festival?" and I said "Which one?" (We don’t know how lucky we are, mate. Etc.)


It’s beautiful isn’t it? The trees are beautiful. The arts are beautiful. The volunteers. Beyoootiful. The festival circuit. Being part of something worldlier and wordier than a regular Wanaka week. As I set out for Festivalland, I’m sure, already, it’s going to be another good one.

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