Governance & Support



An active supporter of Sistema Aotearoa Dame Lesley’s background includes University of Auckland; secondary school teaching; freelance journalism and writing. Her book “Children: Endangered Species” has been profoundly influential in New Zealand.

Dame Lesley co-founded Great Potentials Foundation, created the Family Service Centre model, and introduced HIPPY (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters) in New Zealand.

Dame Lesley has a specific interest in successful interventions in child protection and education. She has been appointed to a number of roles by Governments, including as a Director of the Northern Regional Health Authority, and a member of the Family Violence Advisory Committee to successive Ministers.

Dame Lesley was awarded a MBE in 1994 and was made Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 for services to the community.

Kaumātua Advisor


Bill Takerei is a Trustee of the Otara Network Action Committee and currently the CE of Te Waipuna Puawai. Bill has worked in the health, social services and education sector and has over 25 years’ experience as a Senior Manager/CEO in managing non-government organisations. Bill has a strong passion and connection with Otara with its reputation for being an innovative community with a multi-cultural population and believes Sistema Aotearoa ki Otara is a great example of what can be achieved in working together with a community to develop its young people and families to provide access to opportunities and gain success never seen before.

Sistema Aotearoa Trust


Diane has had significant experience in community development as the Group Manager, Community Services at the former Manukau City Council. She has an MBA (Monash University) and is a member of the Institute of Directors. A long-time Howick resident, she was formerly a Director of the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board, a member of the South Auckland Community Response Forum and Chairperson of Otara Health.

With a strong commitment to community empowerment and social change, Diane is passionate about encouraging and supporting innovative programmes that make a difference to young people’s lives



Leigh Auton is a Professional Director and Consultant.  He was previously Chief Executive of Manukau City Council, and has been a resident of Counties Manukau for over forty years. Leigh is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors and holds a Master of Arts (Hons) in Geography and a Master of Town Planning (Hons) degree. He has extensive local government experience with a particular background in planning, infrastructure and transport.  Leigh has been involved in issues at national, regional and local levels in New Zealand and has had significant engagement with Iwi over a number of decades. In November 2009, he received a Distinguished Service Award for his significant contribution over many years to the image and practice of planning. Leigh is involved in a range of community based organisations in southern Auckland and has been active in the governance of Sistema Aotearoa since its inception.



Of Ngapuhi descent, parent representative Wayne is a long standing member of the Otara community.  Father of three daughters and one son – two of whom are in the Sistema Aotearoa programme and two younger who are eagerly awaiting their chance to start – he is a passionate supporter of the programme. Wayne says; “ I am happy and honoured to be a parent representative – I’ve been able to sit in some of the lessons with my daughters, and found the tutors have a  wealth of knowledge and experience and I’ve enjoyed watching the students learn and progress.”  With over 20 years experience in customer service Wayne brings to the Trust a goal orientated focus and in depth knowledge of the community. Wayne enjoys spending time with his family cooking, baking and doing arts and crafts.



Alan Lyth, who is the principal of Bairds Mainfreight Primary School, brings to the Trust many years of experience in the education sector. His qualifications include an M Ed from University of Tasmania and a Dip Ed Man from Canterbury University. Alan has been principal at four, very different primary schools, over a period of more than 30 years. An educator, who really never left school, he sees himself as a lifelong learner. He sits on a number of trusts including, Inside Out NZ and Papakura Community Trust, both of which have a community focus. Alan is passionate about challenging young people to reach their full potential in any field that they choose to pursue. He feels that it is great to be able to contribute, in a small way, to this innovative initiative that is empowering our Otara children and their Whanau.



Doctor and businessman, Cam Calder served two terms as an MP. Prior to stepping down from Parliament in 2014, he was Chairman of the Education and Science Committee. He has a life long interest in social equity and the transformational power of education. He has witnessed, at first hand, the empowerment of our South Auckland children through their involvement with the Sistema Aotearoa programme and is keen to see its funding base secured so the programme may grow locally and nationally.



John has been a principal for over 25 years and is currently the principal of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Junior School. John has a Bachelor of arts in Education and a Diploma in Education from Auckland University. John continues his studies and focuses on advances in education looking both at the world and the NZ education scenes.

Two years ago John undertook a sabbatical and researched Sistema in Scotland and Northern England where it has been going for longer than our own Sistema Aotearoa programme. John visited 4 Sistema centres looking at the long term benefits to pupils and their families and his studies have indicated that individual pupils lives were being positively transformed as well as a huge uplift for communities they live in. While more research would need to be done, John is excited that same potential would most likely happen here too over time. John is keen to support Sistema Aotearoa in any way he can as he has seen pupils on the programme flourish and the future looks most bright.

John belongs to the Auckland Primary Principals Association, the New Zealand Principals Federation, and the Otara Principals Association. John is very proud that Sir Edmund Hillary Junior School was one of the first founding primary schools in the set up of Sistema Aotearoa. In his spare time John is part of social club which raises funds for a variety of charities and loves to fish though John describes himself as an eco -fisherman where well fed fish often swim away from his line.



Raewyn brings over 20 years experience in senior management, strategy, policy and community development in local government and the no-for-profit sectors, including 8 years at the former Manukau City Council. Raewyn has an MA (1st class) in Political Studies from the University of Auckland and has served on a number of boards including Disability Connect and the Auckland Community Housing Trust. Serving on the board of Sistema Aotearoa combines her passions for education and giving every child the opportunity to participate in music and the arts.

Partner Organisations


Sistema Aotearoa has positive partnership with the APO that provides the young people with unique, inspirational opportunities and the programme with high level support.

There is a close musical working relationship with the orchestra players and students. A number of the tutors are also APO casual players and APO musicians often visit to perform or mentor students. This relationship with the APO provides numerous opportunities which bring the world of a professional musician to life for the children. Students/whanau are supported to attend mainstream concerts extending their experience of classical music, performance opportunities are provided including advance students playing ‘side by side’ in the orchestra and meeting international artists.

The APO provides infrastructure support with a Services Agreement between the organisations that ensures a high standard of programme operation.

For more information on the APO visit their website here.


Sistema Aotearoa is based at Otara Music Arts Centre (renting space at this council facility) located within the heart of the Otara township. The programme operates there five nights a week 2.30-6pm in term time and full days in school holidays. OMAC is a music based community venue with performance spaces, sound lab and a recording studio that is open to community groups, choirs, schools, bands and individual musicians. As their major user for the past 5 years Sistema Aotearoa enjoys being part of the friendly and creative environment at the centre. OMAC hosts both local and international music talent from many performing genres (eg hip-hop, bands, Polynesian and Maori music) and Sistema Aotearoa is included in their concerts and events broadening the young peoples’ musical experiences. Associated with OMAC is a large open air performance stage in the Otara town centre where Sistema Aotearoa holds weekly ‘drop-in’ community pre-school music sessions and regular community concerts.


Sistema Aotearoa is a vibrant and integrated part of the primary schools contributing students to the programme. (Rongomai , Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Bairds Mainfreight, East Tamaki, Te Kura Kaupapa o Piripono , Wymondley Road, St John’s the Evangelist) Some teaching for junior levels takes place in the schools, with schools providing space and support for the programme. There is a close working relationship between the programme and schools, working together to enhance the student’s learning, participating in school events such as prizegivings, providing concert outings, disseminating information etc. Teaching staff also enjoy learning new skills alongside their students. Sistema Aotearoa enriches the music component at schools providing opportunities that would not otherwise exist expanding the learning environment.






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