Small Island Big Ideas is Aotea’s festival for the heart and mind.

Its intention is to arouse curiosity and conversation that takes our world and communities forward.


Small Island Big Ideas is pleased to announce that Aotea Great Barrier’s inaugural book festival will be held in October 2023.

Small Island, Big Ideas - A History

In the summer of 2023 we hosted the ‘world premier’ of Nova Paul’s Sundance-selected Hawaiki short film.
At the tail end of 2022, we hosted a series of fireside talks in the Currach pub called ‘The Winter of our Discontent’, after plans the previous year were thwarted by the global pandemic.
No Barriers: Small Island Big Ideas festival was originally conceived by Gendie Somerville-Ryan, based on BBC programme format and was designed to give Aotea a wake-up call at the end of winter.
It was first held in 2015 on the somewhat prescient theme of ‘Pandemics’!
‘Is there life out there?’ was hosted in 2016, catalysing community efforts to make the island a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
Man or Machine? (2017), The Nature of Time (2018), Death (2019) and Laughter (2020) followed, organised by Gendie and a team of volunteers.
Aotea, Great Barrier Island, Medlands Beach

The team behind Small Island Big Ideas

Tim Higham, Sandy Burgham and Bree Biederman are the current guardians of Small Island Big Ideas (SIBI).
Tim is an island-based writer who has helped champion conservation projects, big and small.
Sandy is the founder of a consultancy practice that partners with leaders and large organisations looking to enact  transformation.
They met walking their dogs on Ōruawharo Medlands Beach.
Bree arrived on Aotea in the spring of 2018. She has worked as a market gardener, waste minimisation champion, wetland restorer and website developer.
Collectively, they sense Aotea Great Barrier Island is a place that can inspire curiosity and change hearts and minds.
Beth Daly and Susan Warren have joined the team to help stage the island’s first book festival, backed by an army of volunteers.




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