About Us

Aspiring Conversations has run as a popular part of the Festival of Colour since 2009, and in 2014 it branched out into its own stand-alone festival in the main Festival off year. This gives us a year-round presence and has been well supported by our key stakeholders and audiences.

In 2018 we ran at a record 91% capacity. Our 2018 festival ideas can comfortably be called a “world class event”, with one Prime Minister (Jacinda Ardern), one ex-president (Ireland’s Mary Robinson), one of the founders of the Green Party, two Oxford professors, three Rhodes scholars, two leading scientists, and a sprinkling of other fine writers and thinkers and musicians among our speakers.

FREEZE!, a mesmerising show for which Dutch performance artist Nick Steur demonstrated precise and physics-defying rock stacking – with the backdrop of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps behind him – was a stunning addition to our programme and offered something new for our audiences.

We aim to inspire, motivate and feed the minds and hearts of both locals and visitors, through a series of talks and conversations with high profile speakers tackling issues of real importance and relevance to our audiences.

“Excellent speakers, great topics, good variety, well organised, beautiful location, nice venue.”

“Setting my mind alight with new ideas”

“A superb range of thinkers and speakers brought in to challenge and delight us”

“The speakers were of high calibre, and the well-organised agenda of topics was relevant for us in Wanaka as were the deeper world issues.”

The Festival of Colour and Aspiring Conversations are organised by the Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust, registered Charitable Trust CC27353.

For a copy of the Trust’s latest Annual Report, email info@festivalofcolour.co.nz

The Festival Team

Prue Wallis (Patron)
The late Fiona Rowley (Patron Settlor)


Alistair King (Chair)
Mike Toepfer (Deputy Chair)
Jo McGregor
Penny Deans
Fiona McPhee
Trevor Crawford
Annis Somerville
Mark Verbiest
Annabel Wilson

Nicola King

Trust Advisors

Dennis Schwarz (Technical)


Philip Tremewan – Aspiring Conversations Programmer

Charlie Unwin – Executive Director
Anna McConville & Abbey Lewis – Operations Managers
Katy Macpherson – Ticketing Manager

Sally Norman – Event Manager