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World Leaders to Speak at Aspiring Conversations

Press Release – Aspiring Conversations

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Irelands former President Mary Robinson lead the programme for Wanakas Aspiring Conversations festival of ideas to be held in April.World Leaders to Speak at Aspiring Conversations

Full Programme Announced ** Wanaka ** 6-8 April 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson lead the programme for Wanaka’s Aspiring Conversations festival of ideas to be held in April.

The opening event session ‘Working for Change’ features the two leaders discussing bringing about change at local, national and international levels. The session is one of 11 events in the festival programme taking place in Wanaka from Friday 6 April to Sunday 8 April, with high-calibre speakers, writers and thinkers discussing and debating the issues of today.

Festival director Philip Tremewan says this year’s programme reflects the “post-truth world we live in where social media and fake news often hold sway.

“Aspiring Conversations turns that around in a weekend where we gather as real people in real time to hear speakers who have real expertise in their fields – from history to human rights, from science to song. It’s a time for reflection, discussion and debate.”

Nine sessions during the festival feature subjects as diverse as politics, justice, the universe, diet and disease, depression and anxiety, natural resources, and mining. Philip said he had been trying to win Mary Robinson for the festival for several years “and I’m delighted that she is coming this year”. She will also speak at a solo session focussed on justice and especially climate justice, where climate change so often affects the poor and marginalised.

In ‘Stars and Planets – life, the universe and everything’, Astrophysicist Dr Jennifer Wiseman talks about what’s special about Earth and whether there are other Earth-like planets. Dr Wiseman is the senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Christos Tsiolkas’ writing deals with anger and shame, sex and violence in Australian society, but in person he’s softly spoken. In ‘Rupturing the social faultlines’ Tsiolkas (THE SLAP, BARRACUDA) discusses how he and other writers are responding to ‘our angry era’ of Trump and Brexit and explores the role of the writer in society.

In ‘Are we humans programmed to devour resources regardless of the consequences’, two historians – Dr Michael Stevens (nō Kāi Tahu ki Awarua) and Professor James Belich – provide different perspectives on a global issue.

‘Our Dark Materials – navigating our way through the oil and mining debate’ provides a discussion topic for Sefton Darby, who has worked for governments, mining companies, NGOs, iwi, and international aid and development organisations, and former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

A special session ‘Memories in Song’ features three New Zealand singer-songwriters talking with music journalist Nick Bollinger about their lives, experiences and memories, and they each will sing songs that dip into their memories.

Dutch performance artist Nick Steur performs his mind-boggling act FREEZE! A hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (and winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First) FREEZE! sees Nick balancing awkwardly shaped rocks atop one another creating unique sculptures which appear to defy the laws of physics. Audiences are transfixed, hardly daring to breathe as one rock follows another.

Already announced for the festival, Professor John D. Potter, Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Health, focuses on how diet relates to disease in the modern environment in his session ‘Does what we eat really matter’; while former Green Party MP Holly Walker casts light on depression from a very personal viewpoint. Holly will be joined for the session ‘Living with depression and anxiety’ by community lawyer Brent Williams – together the pair will contribute to the growing conversation about mental health in New Zealand. Additional speakers are yet to be announced for a session ‘The Future of Work’.

Aspiring Conversations takes place at the Lake Wanaka Centre from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 April. The Aspiring Pass provides access to all nine Wanaka speaker and panel sessions (excluding ‘Memories in Song’ and FREEZE!) for $165. Tickets for the Festival are on sale from Friday 23 February throughwww.aspiringconversations.co.nz

Aspiring Conversations is presented by the Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust and is sponsored by Milford Asset Management and is presented in association with McKinsey & Company. The festival is supported through grants from Creative New Zealand, Central Lakes Trust, Otago Community Trust, and Queenstown Lakes District Council.
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Aspiring Conversations
Held in Wanaka during April, Aspiring Conversations is a weekend programme of discussions, debates and entertainment addressing topical issues of the day. Aspiring Conversations is sponsored by Milford Asset Management, is presented in association with McKinsey & Company and supported through grants from Creative New Zealand, Central Lakes Trust, Otago Community Trust, and Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Working for Change
First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. These two leaders will discuss working for change at local, national and international levels.
Friday 6 April 6.00pm

The Future of Work
Speakers to be announced
Saturday 7 April 9.00am

PERFORMANCE: FREEZE!
As he carefully balances rocks one atop another, audiences at Nick Steur’s FREEZE! hardly dare breathe, standing transfixed by the unique improvised performance. An Edinburgh Festival Fringe First winner,FREEZE! is mesmerising. Concept, text, scenography and performance by Nick Steur. Produced by Richard Jordan Productions and Theater-aan-Zee in association with Theatre Royal Plymouth, Big in Belgium and Summerhall.
6-8 April 12.30pm, Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 April 4.30pm

Striving for Justice
First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson draws on her varied background to look at climate justice and the impact of climate change on the poor and the marginalised.
Saturday 7 April 11.00am

Stars and Planets – life, the universe and everything
Asrophysicist and Hubble Space Telescope senior project scientist Dr. Jennifer Wiseman shares what is special about Earth and whether there are other Earth-like planets.
Saturday 7 April 1.30pm

Rupturing the Social Faultlines
Christos Tsiolkas (THE SLAP, BARRACUDA) discusses how he and other writers are responding to the ‘angry era’ of Trump and Brexit and explores the role of the writer in society – where is the goodness and the hope?
Saturday 7 April 3.00pm

PERFORMANCE: Memories in Song
Three New Zealand singer-songwriters talk to music journalist and memoirist Nick Bollinger about their lives, and sing songs that dip into their memories. Sharing their experiences will be Warren Maxwell, Reb Fountain and Anthonie Tonnon.
Saturday 7 April 7.30pm

Does what we eat really matter?
John D. Potter, Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Health and Professor at Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research, is an internationally renowned biomedical scientist. He will be discussing eating habits today compared with those of hunters and gatherers of old in a session which includes the launch of his new book, which examines what we know about chronic disease and our eating and drinking habits.
Sunday 8 April 9.00am

Living with depression and anxiety
Former Rhodes Scholar and Green MP Holly Walker, and community lawyer Brent Williams contribute to a growing conversation about mental health in New Zealand, a conversation that is bringing the mental health epidemic out of the shadows.
Sunday 8 April 11.00am

Are we humans programmed to devour resources regardless of the consequences?
Historians Dr. Michael Stevens (nō Kāi Tahu ki Awarua) and James Belich cast light on the issue of our resources from different angles and on different scales.
Sunday 8 April 1.30pm

Our Dark Materials – navigating our way through the oil and mining debate
Mining – the past and future – comes into focus in this session with Sefton Darby, who has worked with governments, mining companies, NGOs, iwi and international aid and development organisations, and former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.
Sunday 8 April 3.00pm

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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