Climate tops festival bill

Climate change, national identity, health, creativity, innovation, the power of poetry and a musical tribute to a legendary singer will all feature at the Aspiring Conversations festival in Wanaka from April 22 to 24.

The programme was launched yesterday and features climatologist Tim Flannery, 2010 New Zealander of the Year Sir Ray Avery, Kiwiblog editor David Farrar, Rhodes Scholar Max Harris, and author Patricia Grace.

Festival director Philip Tremewan said the festival was "an opportunity to move past the sound bites, the slogans, the short video clips, the way so often that the media can trivialise and gloss over important topics''.

"Our sessions provide time to explore issues at depth, to hear differing views, to engage with new ideas and to hear from people who have thought long and deeply about matters that concern us all,'' she said.

Prof Mike Berridge will explore how brain function and the immune system depend on bacteria.

Louise Wallace, Greg O'Brien and Kate Camp will discuss poetry.

David Farrar and Max Harris will debate trends in society and politics, and political commentator Colin James and writer Stephanie James will explore the relationship between New Zealand and Australia.

Pacific writer Albert Wendt and playwright and screenwriter Victor Roger will talk about the impacts of their childhood on their lives and work.

And US writer David Vann and writer and psychologist Jesse Bering will discuss suicide.

Kathryn Ryan from Radio NZ National will chair three sessions.

Four singers - Tami Neilson, Bella Kalolo, Anna Coddington and Colleen Davis - will pay tribute to Dusty Springfield.

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