Sistema Aotearoa Logo

Welcome to Sistema Aotearoa

Who we are

Walk through Ōtara Town Square any afternoon and you’ll see smiling children of all ages, carrying violins or balancing cellos on their backs! These eager learners are heading to Ōtara Music Arts Centre (OMAC), the home of Sistema Aotearoa, one of New Zealand’s most unique and effective music and social development programmes.

Sistema Aotearoa works to unleash the potential of tamariki, whānau and communities through orchestral music making. The programme fosters confidence, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children and their wider community, bringing about social change, community empowerment and supporting the wellbeing of tamariki and whānau.

Sistema Aotearoa has been an integral aspect of family and community life in Ōtara. Since its inception in 2011, over 3000 children have been impacted by the programme. In 2023, over 1,200 Māori and Pasifika children students, aged 2 to 20 years, will participate in diverse activities including lively pre-school music sessions, concert performances, in-school musicianship lessons, and instrumental tuition after school and in school holidays.

Inspired by Sistema music programmes around the world, Sistema Aotearoa is a social development programme that builds a sense of community, self-respect, and mutual support in children. Our free, intensive, ensemble-based music lessons inspire children to realise their full potential through orchestral music-making.

How it works

Sistema Aotearoa’s approach considers all aspects of a child’s development and works to integrate these, creating benefits that go beyond the development of musical ability.

In 2022, Sistema Aotearoa impacted 1,415 ākonga through high-quality, age and ability appropriate sessions structured to develop musical capability and enhance social and educational development. The programme is free, accessible, diverse, and combines musical and social benefits to provide a wide range of pathways for participants. 477 students, aged 6 to 20 yrs participated in all or some aspects of the Pūoro Tuakana and Pūoro Rangatahi afterschool programmes, 534 tamariki participated in the Pūoro Pōtiki in-school programme and 404 tamariki attended Pūoro Pīrere preschool sessions held at local ECE centres.

In addition to receiving on-going musical instruction throughout the year, students participate in diverse activities. These included performing at major concert venues across Aotearoa, on television, in retirement villages and frequently in our local Ōtara community. In 2022, more than 10,000 audience members enjoyed hearing our ākonga perform at 64 events, including cultural pieces, classical works, new compositions and popular theme tunes from film and television.

Sistema Aotearoa is an independent charitable trust and has its own individual governanceIt enjoys a close strategic partnership with a number of arts organisations in order to create inspirational opportunities for our ākonga and whānau. This includes the Auckland Philharmonia, New Zealand String Quartet, Ōtara Music Arts Centre, Auckland University School of Music and Pacifica Arts Centre. Sistema Aotearoa Trust acknowledges the support our organisation receives from our many valued donors, partners and funders.

Evaluation Results

An independent evaluation report (released 2016) on the educational and social outcomes of Sistema Aotearoa concluded that the programme was contributing positively to a range of outcomes. Most noticeable was that the students scored more highly in reading and mathematics than children not participating. Other key child outcomes included increased confidence, perseverance and self-discipline and found that the programme also supported the student’s sense of belonging, vision for the future and contribution to their own culture. Important whānau outcomes included a greater involvement with their child’s schooling, and improved family relationships and parenting skills.

Partner Schools

Rongomai School
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate
Bairds Mainfreight Primary School
East Tamaki School
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Piripono
Wymondley Road Primary School
St John the Evangelist School
Dawson Primary School

Flat Bush School






Sistema Aotearoa
PO Box 61-171, Ōtara, Manukau, 2159
Phone: 021 618 922