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 2021 nearly 1,200 Māori and Pasifika children students, aged 2 to 17 years, will participate in diverse activities including lively community pre-school music sessions, concert performances, in school musicianship lessons, and instrumental tuition afterschool 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 realize their full potential as ākonga and citizens 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 2021, Sistema Aotearoa will interface with nearly 1,200 individual students through high-quality, age/ability appropriate sessions structured to develop musical capability and enhance social and educational development. 469 students, aged 6 to 17 yrs from 35 different primary, intermediate and secondary schools participated in all or some aspects of the Pūoro Tuakana core afterschool programme, a further 301 tamariki participated in  the Pūoro Pōtiki in-school programme and 403 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 concerts, on National television, in retirement villages and, closer to home, in our local community. Over the year more than 5000 audience members enjoyed hearing their mastery of cultural pieces, classical works, new compositions and popular theme tunes from film and television.

Sistema Aotearoa is an independent charitable trust. It has its own individual governance and while it enjoys a close strategic partnership with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra the trust receives no financial support from the APO.

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






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