Variety of topics on offer at Wānaka festival

The Aspiring Conversations 2024 Festival programme was launched in Wānaka recently.  Showing off...
The Aspiring Conversations 2024 Festival programme was launched in Wānaka recently. Showing off the programmes are (from left) festival co-chairwoman Fi McPhee, director Sophie Kelly, co-chairman Alistair King, events manager Laura Williamson, trustee Mark Verbiest, general manager Ruth Heath and trustee Nicola King. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Everything will be laid bare at the Aspiring Conversations Festival in April — from minorities behaving badly, to Chinese food, to humans versus machines, giving up drinking and what you really think of the Otago Daily Times.

The four-day, 14-event festival programme was recently released in Wānaka to an audience of about 200 patrons and supporters.

It reveals a range of funny, gritty, inspiring and thought-provoking events to talk about between April 4 and 7.

Festival director Sophie Kelly said the festival "challenged the things that matter".

She and co-programmer Philip Tremewan had tried to do things differently for this festival, the first in six years after Covid-19 pandemic interruptions.

As the world continued to tackle issues raised in a "post-truth world", the Aspiring Conversations Festival aimed to take the chat out of the social media echo chamber and confront it, while having fun, she said.

Chinese-Kiwi playwright Nathan Joe starts the festival on April 4 at Wānaka’s Rhyme & Reasons Brewery with his show, Dirty Passports, "featuring your favourite minorities behaving badly . . . all for the audience’s displeasure".

Included in this show are slam poetry and spoken work artists from Maori, Samoan, Tongan, German, Scottish and Irish descent — including Ngaio Simmons, Eric Soakai, Alvie McKree and Rushi Vyas.

On April 5, MasterChef winner Sam Low will launch his new cookbook during conversation with Joe, at Federal Diner.

Later in the day, a panel of librarians will compete with artificial intelligence to answer audience questions at the Lake Wānaka Centre.

On Saturday, April 6, New Zealand journalists Susie Ferguson (RNZ), Paddy Gower (Newshub) and Guyon Espiner (RNZ) will be up early to read and review the contents of the Otago Daily Times over breakfast with other early risers.

Ferguson will return later in the day to tackle the gritty topic, Truth and Lies, with science communicator Siouxsie Wiles, writer Byron C. Clarke and Disinformation Project director Kate Hannah.

Also on Saturday is a conversation about the Treaty of Waitangi with Kai Tahu.

Ko Kai Tahu Me Te Tiriti tells the story of seven Kai Tahu rakatira (chiefs) who signed the treaty and discusses the impact of signing on Te Waipounamu South Island.

Espiner and Gower will be back on April 7 to chat about the odds of quitting alcohol with writer Lotta Dann.

Wānaka climber Lydia Bradey and WAO Wānaka co-founder Sophie Kelly are also included the programme, talking about taking chances and the tipping point for climate change, respectively.

The full programme and ticketing information is available on the festival website.