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Debate and dance dominate day three of Festival of Colour

Seymour Hersh presenting ‘Invitation to another war’ as part of the Festival of Colour’s ‘Aspiring Conversations’ programme. (credit:


Debate and dance dominate day three of Festival of Colour

LAKE WANAKA, New Zealand (April 18, 2013) – A fascinating debate about US-led conflicts past, present and future contrasted sharply with the beauty and power of contemporary dance during a varied programme on day three of the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour.

Leading US investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh presented ‘Invitation to another war’ as part of the festival’s Aspiring Conversations series. In a far-reaching review of US foreign policy chaired by NZ broadcaster Finlay McDonald, Hersh had a packed audience captivated with his quick-fire delivery and detailed grasp of the realities of modern US politics.

Moving from the terrible events in Boston this week through to America’s relationship with Israel, Hersh breathlessly dissected conflicts in Afghanistan (“not a victory”), Iraq (“we’re facing the consequences today of that decision [to go to war]; they [the US government under George W. Bush] made an immoral decision”), Libya and Syria (“the biggest mess”).

Asked about whether the current US electoral system was causing some of the perceived failures in the country’s foreign policy, Hersh tellingly concluded: “Very good people are leaving the Senate and the House”.

He was, however, no apologist for the current President and was highly critical of Barack Obama’s failure to match 2009 inauguration promises on the detainee camp at Guantanamo and his deference to the military.

Hersh’s most moving passage came when discussing the events of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War in 1969. The audience fell silent not just as he recounted the build up to the massacre and events on the day itself but also when he tracked down one of the protagonists, a young infantryman later invalided out of the war, in his home village south of Chicago. Meeting his mother first, she told him: “I gave them a good boy and they sent back a murderer.”

In a complete change of mood, Black Grace brought their contemporary dance spectacular Vaka to the Lake Wanaka Centre later in the evening. The first show to sell out at this year’s festival, Neil Ieremia’s supremely athletic company and powerful choreography inspired the audience. This was truly a five-star festival highlight.

In ‘Living this Life’, the first Aspiring Conversations session of the day, nonagenarian Lloyd Geering examined the pursuit of happiness in an increasingly secular world. Thought provoking and reflective, Geering laid out his personal take on modern living.

“We used to be concerned about life after death, now we’re concerned about how we live life before death. Our chief purpose in life… is to enjoy it,” he said.

Beat generation play Beautiful Losers opened its Festival of Colour season tonight at Hawea Flat Hall. Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s ground-breaking novel On The Road this two-man comedy-drama exploded with words, laughter, music and madness as Kerouac and his crazy companion, Neal Cassady burn through fifties America. This excellent production plays Cromwell on Saturday and Wanaka on Sunday.

Last up, the two-man musical extravaganza Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two had its first airing of the festival at the Queenstown Memorial Centre before moving to Wanaka tomorrow night, while the Yoots brought the house down at the Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace with their high-energy calypso ska. Led by Fat Freddy’s Drop trombonist, Hopepa, this band of many talents fused the essence of Maori waiata with dance-floor rhythms to leave the audience dancing out of the door

Sadly, Moana Jackson’s Aspiring Conversations session ‘Who owns water?’, originally scheduled for 10am tomorrow (Friday), has been cancelled due to a family bereavement. Ticket holders can receive a full refund by presenting their tickets at the Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace between 9.30 and 11am on Friday.

The 2013 Southern Lakes Festival of Colour runs until Sunday 21 April and is generously supported by Central Lakes Trust, The Community Trust of Otago, Creative New Zealand and Aurora Energy. For further information and ticket sales visit


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