New host for WOMAD stage

Media personality Sonya Wilson first experienced WOMAD as TVNZ’s arts and entertainment reporter and she loved it so much she wanted to stay forever.

“I remember not wanting to leave to go back to the office and file the story – it was just such a great place to be – even when you were there working,” she says.

Now, twelve years later, she’s back working at WOMAD again – this time as the new host for the popular OMV Taste the World programme.

In this mouthwatering festival highlight WOMAD artists create their favourite recipes from their homelands in front of a live audience, and even offer up a taste of their dishes.

“I am really looking forward to hearing the artists’ stories, talking to all these incredible musicians about the food culture of their home countries, hearing about their families’ kitchens and their recipes, and listening to their small stories and their tall tales,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who hosted current affairs show 20/20 and was a reporter for One News, said she was equal parts nervous and excited to be the new host.

“Nervous because I’m going to be on a stage with a bunch of musicians, gas cookers, deep fryers, multiple languages and no script, and excited because – I’m going to be on a stage with a bunch of musicians, gas cookers, deep fryers, multiple languages and no script.

“And of course I’m looking forward to eating some great food… to being introduced to some new ingredients and creative cooking styles on the Taste the World stage. I can’t wait to see what these artists are going to serve up for us, both on the plate and off.”

Wilson has fond memories of being in the kitchen as a child with her nana, her mum and her cousins – including the suspenseful wait for the Christmas pavlova.

Now, her favourite meals are those cooked on a BBQ or a fire, because of the sense of community and camaraderie it evokes.

“That style of cooking generally involves being outside, standing around a fire with family and friends. Tales are told, the world is put to rights, and then food is shared. Bliss.”

TAFT Chief Executive Suzanne Porter said Wilson would bring her own influence to the OMV Taste the World stage, just as former host Jax Hamilton had done.

“This stage offers the intimacy of getting to know an artist away from the music stage. It’s where they talk about their lives, the food of their countries and the impromptu performances that evolve make this experience like no other.

“Sonya’s strong ability as a researcher and interviewer are what made her a natural for this. Coupled with her love of the WOMAD experience, and we knew she would do an awesome job.”

This year another new feature of the OMV Taste the World programme is an entertaining cooking session with a WOMAD festival partner.

Gabriel Selischi, OMV Senior Vice President Australasia, will be whipping up a delicious South African dish and sharing stories about his time living and working in France, South Africa, Algeria, Angola and, most recently, Romania.

“Eating this dish I could relate to my European roots, mixed with the spices and the ingredients of the African continent. The dish is also a way for me to relate to the different food cultures I have learnt to love and appreciate,” he said.

This is the first year OMV have come on board as a WOMAD partner and Taste the World is a perfect match for the them.

“As a company we value cultural diversity as a key enabler for performance. Eating is the social lubricant to make this multicultural team experience work. Eating is also a fun way to learn about our differences. We do learn with our mind, sometimes with our heart, but learning with our palate is very often the funnest part,” Selischi said.

Porter said WOMAD was privileged to have strong partners support the award-winning three day festival.

“And in particular to have developed a recent but meaningful relationship with OMV. This partnership has ensured that we can continue to offer what we have always offered.”

  • WOMAD New Zealand is on from March 15 to 17 at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth. For more information visit