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Wānaka welcomes Aspiring Conversations speakers

The Wānaka App

01 April 2024, 4:06 PM

Wānaka welcomes Aspiring Conversations speakersKiwibank New Zealander of the Year Dr Jim Salinger

This week Wānaka will welcome speakers for a weekend of intellectual exchange and cultural celebration: Aspiring Conversations.

More than 40 speakers and artists are ready to take the stage for the festival which explores a diverse range of topics, from culture and history to adventure, food, and politics.

The Aspiring Conversations team has announced that 2024 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Dr Jim Salinger will join the panel of experts and local voices for the ‘What is the Tipping Point?’ session.

Dr Salinger, a distinguished international climate scientist, has dedicated almost 50 years to advancing climate science, including ground-breaking research on Southern Hemisphere climate change.


He will take the place of Rod Oram, a well known journalist and environmentalist, who died on March 19.

Dr Salinger was a close friend of Rod’s and the session on climate change has been dedicated to Rod’s memory. Joining Dr Salinger will be James Shaw, former minister of climate change, Wao director Monique Kelly, Kāpiti councillor and Schools Strike 4 Climate organiser Sophie Handford, and Te Kura o Tititea Mt Aspiring College (MAC) students James Watson and Elsa Buckley. The session will be chaired by Kathryn Ryan.

Max Harris, a former Rhodes Scholar and fellow of All Souls College Oxford, will present ‘Syndromes and Surgery, Politics and Personal’ at Aspiring Conversations, sharing his experience with personal health challenges and the workings of our health system.  

‘Quintessentially Irish’, on Sunday April 7, celebrates the impact of Irish writers on readers worldwide.

An art exhibition by former Upper Clutha resident Liz Breslin, titled ‘Contribution to Field’, will be installed within a marquee adorned with a white picket fence and artificial grass. There will also be an installation of ‘Aspiring Writers’: a collection of written works by MAC English department students.

Ticket sales for Aspiring Conversations (which runs from April 4-7) have been busy and organisers are encouraging people to snap up remaining tickets.

PHOTO: Supplied