Singing the Blues – at the Aspiring Conversations ideas festival on Saturday April 4.

Big ideas are a big deal in our community, and tickets are selling fast for the 2020 Aspiring Conversations festival of ideas.

We still have some seats available for eight of our nine speaker sessions, as well as for our Saturday evening ‘Singing the Blues’ show, which will see four blues musicians in conversation with Radio NZ music journalist Nick Bollinger.

Get your tickets now to make sure you don’t miss out!

There are two easy ways buy tickets for the 2020 Aspiring Conversations.

Online: Visit and click on the ‘BOOK TICKETS’ button.

By telephone: Call 022 4 TIX NOW (022 4 849 669).

And watch this space – we will be announcing the speakers for our Saturday morning ‘Sustainability’ session soon!

Jon Toogood – Musician, Muslim, Kiwi

Jon Toogood, frontman for the rock band Shihad, joins us at this year’s Aspiring Conversations not just to talk rock (although that will no doubt come up), but to discuss his experiences as a Muslim New Zealander.

Jon converted to Islam when he married his Sudanese-born wife Dana, and at the ‘Musician, Muslim, Kiwi’ session, he will discuss life in the wake of the March 15 attacks, sharing his thoughts on diverse people living together in the same place.

As for his music, read about how Jon’s Sudanese wedding informed his last Adults album Haja in this article from the NZ Listener.



Sponsors’ corner

A word from Quartz Reef

Quartz Reef specialises in premium Méthode Traditionnelle, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, showcasing the proven winemaking talents of Austrian-born Rudi Bauer. “These exceptional wines ooze character and personality, resonating with a sense of place that has been an evolving story of vines maturing as much as a vigneron perfecting his craft” – Curtis Marsh.

As we celebrate 21 years, our vines have come of age and we are rewarded with a more mature, rich yet elegant expression of our unique parcel of land. Certified Demeter Biodynamic in 2011 and Biogro Organic in 2017 reflects our on-going philosophy for not only taking responsibility for the land to pass on in better shape than inherited to the next generation.

Please visit us at or at our cellar door in Cromwell, we look forward to welcoming you.

Arts in our region

Cellists of Otago featuring Rebecca Ryan
Lake Wanaka Centre, 89 Ardmore St, Wanaka
Sunday 29 March @ 3:00pm

Cellists of Otago is a Dunedin based ensemble directed by Dr Heleen du Plessis and comprises University of Otago students, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra cellists, high school pupils and community cellists. The Wanaka concert will feature New Zealand soprano, Rebecca Ryan, in a programme packed with much-loved songs for cello ensemble and duo.

Wanaka Autumn Masterclass Workshop – 4 Days
Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort, 144/154 Anderson Rd, Wanaka
Thursday 23 April 2020 – Sunday 26 April 2020 

Autumn Masterclass Workshop with landscape photographers Rob Brown and Richard Young as tutors, utilising comfortable 4WD vehicles to explore into some of the most interesting autumnal locations in Central Otago.