Festival to educate and inspire
The Organic River Festival returns to Kimberley Reserve in Levin this weekend.
Last held in 2010, the festival celebrates music and creativity and aims to enlighten, educate and inspire people about environmental issues.
Visitors have the option of camping on site for three days from this Friday or attending for the day on Sunday, with a variety of entertainment, activities and stalls on offer.
Organiser Malcolm Hadlum, of Levin, said there are 25 music bands performing, including folk, country, blues, rock, reggae and fusion acts, and one of the aims this year is to provide more variety and encourage new talent.
''And, for those who haven't played for a while, please bring your instrument and have a jam.''
Mr Hadlum said this will be the 11th festival and estimates at least half of festival-goers are from outside the district.
''It showcases Levin and one of its most beautiful reserves - and why events like this which attract people to the area are important.''
The reserve is known for its bush walks and swimming holes. There will also be organised activities including a ''kids zone'', pony rides, learn to play guitar workshops, yoga and meditation.
Food on offer ranges from vegetarian dishes to gourmet burgers, and for the first time there will be ''festival beer'', as well as cider and wine, brewed at Levin's Celtic Organic Winery.
Three high-profile speakers will give talks on Sunday, Auckland's Ken Ring, best-known for his weather and earthquake predictions; Levin-born and Wellington-based investigative journalist and author Nicky Hager; and Massey University environmental science senior lecturer Mike Joy, of Manakau.
Visitors should attend with an open mind and they would leave with a deeper understanding of ''why society is in such a pickle'', said Hadlum.
''We all know money, power, ego and status all seem to throw society leaders out of whack, so we are putting some wild beliefs under the spotlight for scrutiny and debate.''
Mr Hadlum said Ring will share his controversial views on global warming, climate change and pollution, asking whether science has changed and become politicised and ''crooked'' and what this could this mean for future generations.
He said Hager specialises in ''unseen, untold, and unrecorded'' topics on environmental issues, intelligence networks and politics.
''Consequently, his investigative writings are just as controversial as they are influential.''
Mr Hadlum said Mike Joy recently drew wrath by raising the question of the country's ecological status and comparing facts versus advertising in the ''100% Pure New Zealand'' tourism campaign.
''His discordant voice triggered criticism from part of the scientific community and from Prime Minister John Key. Quite naturally this triggered our curiosity to learn more about the true state of New Zealand's environment.''
Mr Hadlum said on a local level his Ecofest Trust was dedicated to help with the restoration of Lake Horowhenua following the deterioration of its environmental health over decades, largely due to polluted waterways.
''We can never go forward until local governments acknowledge the past mistakes and give the power of restoration back to the community.''
Mr Hadlum said the lake had so much potential and could once again become the playground of the greater region.
In the lead-up to the festival, Mr Hadlum has the help of six international travellers as part of the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms network.
Julien Baudry, of France, said most of them had stayed with Mr Hadlum at the organic winery before and had arranged their travel to return to Levin and play a part in the festival.
The Organic River Festival is open to the public this Sunday from 10am to 7pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $5 for children under 13, under-fives free, and $40 family concessions.
For more information, including camping options, ecofest.co.nz.