The first week of General Sales is almost done, and the 2018 Aspiring Conversations are proving to be our most popular yet.

Two sessions have sold out –  our opening night talk with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former Irish President Mary Robinson, together with Mary Robinson’s solo session.   But we still have hundreds of tickets available to our other sessions, covering everything from history, to the environment, to music, to diet, to how we see the stars.



Tickets for John D. Potter’s session, ‘Does what we eat really matter?’ are selling quickly, as are seats for Astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman’s talk, ‘Stars and planets – life, the universe and everything’, and our session with historians James Belich and Michael Stevens. Book your tickets soon to catch these sessions.

Visit the Aspiring Conversations website to book,

as well as for information about our programme, including ticket prices and session times.

You can also book tickets by telephone on 022 4 849 669.


‘Nine to Noon’ host Kathryn Ryan to chair at Aspiring Conversations


From left: Kathryn Ryan, shares laugh with writers Patricia Grace and Tina Makereti at the 2016 Aspiring Conversations.

Kathryn Ryan, host of Radio NZ’s ‘Nine to Noon’ programme is returning to chair half a dozen sessions at the 2018 Aspiring Conversations. Ryan chaired a number of sessions for us in 2016, and she called her time at Aspiring Conversations “a super weekend in Wanaka”, adding that she came away having learned a lot. Ryan has been with Radio NZ since 1999, where she served as political editor for a time; she was named 2015 International Radio Personality of the Year by the Association of International Broadcasters.

She will be joined this year by fellow Radio NZ presenter Nick Bollinger, who will be chairing the ‘Memories in Song’ session, featuring musicians Warren Maxwell, Reb Fountain and Anthonie Tonnon. A writer, broadcaster, musician and producer, Bollinger is also the author of Goneville, a memoir about the 1970s music scene in New Zealand, which won the 2015 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing at Victoria University of Wellington.

As in the past when we have worked with Radio NZ presenters, some of our sessions will be rebroadcast by the public broadcaster later in the year.

Patron opportunity

One of our long-term Festival of Colour Patrons is looking for someone to share her Patron membership with. If you would like to become a Patron, or renew as a Patron, but would prefer to share, this is a great opportunity. Please contact General Manager Laura Williamson to find out more:


Thank you to The Lion Foundation


Aspiring Conversations has received a grant from The Lion Foundation to help cover the costs of our sound system and projector during the festival. Thank you to this long-time supporter of the Festival of Colour and Aspiring Conversations for helping us sound good!


And now for something completely different: FREEZE!



In addition to our programme of speakers, this year Aspiring Conversations features a performance piece that will rock your world. An Edinburgh Fringe First Winner, FREEZE! features Dutch performance artist Nick Steur stacking stones-not to make the cairns we’re used to seeing on our beaches and roadsides, but to create painstakingly-balanced structures that seems to defy the laws of physics. We promise you will be transfixed. Nick will be doing five performances of FREEZE! over the Aspiring Conversations weekend.

A word from our sponsor: Turnkey Homes

FREEZE! is sponsored by Turnkey Homes.

Turnkey Homes is proud to support the 2018 Aspiring Conversations. We offer complete building solutions from concept to completion. With years of local knowledge and experience, Turnkey Homes has the expertise to make your vision a reality. For more information, check out our website at