Check out a person instead of a book and enjoy a unique storytelling experience.

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Living Stories is a storytelling project based on a collection of local people who volunteer as human books. On the bookshelf of Upper Clutha people, you will find stories based on lifestyle, experiences, career paths and areas of expertise, such as travel and history.     

Sit with a human book for a 30-minute session to listen, converse and ask questions in a relaxed small group. This event will be held at Wānaka Library, a safe and inclusive space where our human books can share their stories openly and unjudged. 

Each of our human books will be available to book at various times throughout the weekend. Conversations will happen simultaneously in nooks and locations in and around Wānaka Library. 

Browse our Living Stories bookshelf on the Festival of Colour (TICKETING WEBSITE) and book your ticket for this free event. 

For more information visit

Or contact  | (03) 443 0425

Human books to select from

A Female Perspective

I arrived in Wānaka with my husband at the end of 1974, young, no children and no knowledge of the Upper Clutha. I will share my life experiences within the wider context of our evolving community and society during the last 7 decades. How the decisions we make as women either depend on others or affect others. What are the roles we play?

Themes: Local History, a focus on woman, reflections of a grandmother

Book session

Africa, land of smoke and dust

After 23 years working as a logistics officer for the World Food Programme, Alastair has returned to Wānaka. Alastair will be sharing stories from his time working with the World Food Programme, the challenges faced trying to get food to those in need often after disaster strikes.

Themes: natural disasters, famine, conflict, culture, humanitarian aid

Book session

Biodynamic Gardening

Find out what makes biodynamic gardening the most holistic solution to regenerative farming. Learn how the most basic principles of biodynamics can be incorporated into your life at any level. Growing from the heart. Biodynamics to increase soil health and nutritional quality of food.  Building restorative resilience, sustainably by working in harmony with natures rhythms.

Themes: Demystifying Biodynamics, growing from the heart, Biodynamic principles and practices.

Book session

Death Cafe

Join me for a conversation about the Death Café and hear about my journey to co-facilitating the Wānaka branch of this world wide initiative. The Death Café is not a grief or bereavement support group but a place to openly discuss all aspects of death, dying and living. It is a non-directed group and all topics are welcome. Come and ask questions or open up a topic to discuss in this short time together.

Themes:  Living a full life, death cafe, end of life

Book session

Disabled Spirituality

My name is Carolyn, I describe myself as a Deaf Blind theologian.
Come and learn about how people like me can live life abundantly how I work through the framework of Disability Theology. Through my hobbies, degree in Theology, as an advocate for disability awareness in the community, or my role as a spiritual director/companion. I'll also be providing names in braille through "1 million names in braille" project.

Themes: living with a disability, hearing & sight impairment

Book session 

From Wabern to Wānaka

I grew up in central Germany, met a Kiwi in West Africa, married her and “only” 34 years later arrived in Wanaka to stay for good. On the way here, we lived in eight countries on four continents and must have moved house about 17 times. The reason for the rather long and winding road to New Zealand was my job with a humanitarian UN agency, the World Food Programme, which provides food assistance to victims of disasters, be they natural or caused by human action.
As part of the job I spent a lot of time in Timbuktu, ate fish caught with the help of a rocket propelled grenade in Afghanistan, and had a few other adventures along the way. I became a “specialist” for tropical diseases by picking up quite a lot of them, got to eat quite a few unusual foods and spent quite a few nights in places without clean sheets or comfy duvets. Yet I always felt privileged to lead the life I had.

Themes: Travel, humanitarian aid, war zones, hunger, logistics, family

Book session

Full Circle

In June 2022 I returned to live in New Zealand after 36 years of living abroad, in nine countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America. Over that time I had moved into and out of some 17 homes and had become an ace at “packing in and packing out” of postings. Raising a family, supporting my husband in his work while attempting to maintain my own career challenged me. However it was a life that was both fulfilling and rewarding and I have never regretted one moment of it.

Themes: Family life, living abroad, travel, career

Book session

Jumping walls, crossing borders. The Story of a Mexican in New Zealand

Juan Campos - I am Juan from Mexico and now I call Wanaka my home. I’ve always had a passion for traveling and learning about different cultures. I realized from a young age that the best way to know a culture is through everyday life, so I tried to find ways to live abroad or travel as slowly as possible. This has taken me through multiple occupations ranging from fruit picker to being in charge of IT infrastructure in a national security project back in my country. It is my pleasure to share this journey with the people of Wānaka and I hope you find something interesting in it.

Themes: Travel, culture, work, life

Book session

Travels in my kitchen

Judith Cullen - From cooking classes to travelling with small groups in her favourite places around the world, sharing traditional dishes and ingredients. Judith will share her journey to food and travel and how two of her great passions combined.

Themes: Food, Travel, Writing

Book session

40 years in broadcasting

Mike Regal talks candidly about his 40 years in broadcasting and how technology and deregulation has changed the industry. Hear about Mikes early days at Radio Otago in the early 80's, being a high profile personality at NZ's first FM radio station (Auckland's 91FM) in the late 80's, then 15 years as Programme Director at iconic New Zealand radio station Radio Hauraki and finally in 2011 a move south to escape the corporate rat race & take over the ownership of Radio Wanaka.

Book session

My World in Image

Virtually unheard of in New Zealand, image trainers in appearance, conduct, etiquette and interpersonal skills are regularly hired by organisations and aspiring people to up their game in how they come across. Denise Ng’s story of her international work with civil servants, business leaders, Mrs Universe, high-end fashion stores, airports, the military and more.

Book session

Download Programme Schedule


Wānaka Festival of Colour
Friday 31 March - Sunday 2 April
Various times
30 minutes
Free event - ticket bookings required
Wānaka Public Library
General Admission

Supported By

Health New Zealand
Living Stories
Libraries Queenstown Lakes