Staff Profiles

Creative Technologies Staff

Gareth McGhie - Associate Programme Manager Creative and Senior Tutor

PG Cert in Applied Practice

Gareth has taught across the suite of Creative Technologies programmes since 2010. Prior to this Gareth worked across many fields in the creative industry including hairdressing, film work including design, SPFX make-up, costuming, miniatures, props manufacture and set construction. Initially training as a hairdresser, Gareth spent 10 years in this industry and was actively involved in Wella’s design team and national competition circuit winning both regional and national titles during the 1990s.

Gareth then moved to the NZ film industry in 1999 and worked for Weta Workshop for the following 10 years, the last 5 of which were spent as workshop supervisor overseeing production on multiple film, gaming, and public art work projects including King Kong, Lion, Witch and Wardrobe Trilogy, District 9, and Avatar films. Gareth still works closely with Weta Workshop and film-based manufacturing companies in the Wellington region and actively researches in this area.

Gareth’s personal art practice centres on contemporary Māori carving and adornment working predominantly in bone, wood, and stone. The Kaupapa of this work is settled firmly within the concepts of Te Ao Māori and Whakapapa in particular. His work is exhibited regularly both in NZ and internationally. The intersection of this carving practice and his work in the film-based manufacturing industry is a primary area of research in regard to materiality, process, and development.

Craig Anderson - Senior Tutor 

BCrea, Dip. Computer Graphic Design, C. Adult Education

Craig teaches across a range of creative fields, with a focus on digital media and emerging technologies. His core teaching includes graphic design, web media, photography and video. Craig is a passionate educator, who combines creativity and critical thinking in his student projects and enjoys mentoring students through their educational journey and into creative careers.

Craig’s knowledge of multimedia, photography and graphic design is translated in direct collaboration and multidisciplinary projects with industry including Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) and GS1.

Darren Ward - Tutor

PG Cert in Applied Practice  

Darren has been teaching in the tertiary sector for 10 years. Darren has over twenty years of experience in various engineering fields which include NZ Defence, high speed packaging engineer for Lever Rexona and locomotive rebuild engineer for KiwiRail. Darren also has over 15 years of experience working within his Maori art practice which includes Marae, gallery work and providing work for private collectors and commissions.

Darren’s research expertise is in Māori art and design and 3D methodologies and processes. He utilizes his knowledge of engineering to apply hard materials and processes along with emerging technologies into his teaching and creative practice. Darren has interests in the digital modelling, scanning, and virtual reality fields. Darren also has a close link with Te Papa which includes various back of house collections visits and links with local Iwi and industry relationships that bridge into the props making, game design, and world building areas.

Mike Robinson - Tutor


Mike completed a BDes (Hons) at Massey University majoring in Visual Communication Design and Digital Media in 2013. He has since been working as a freelance designer and artist in areas spanning illustration, ceramics, graphic design, web design, costume design, sound design and sculpture. Much of his work has been based in central China in the last three years where he has been teaching design courses for various institutions. He has a keen interest in mixing technologies both old and new and brings this multidisciplinary approach to all his teaching and personal practice.

Adrian McCleland - Tutor


Adrian teaches within the image making courses, across all year groups. His skillset acquired over many years means he comes well equipped to cover a vast array of crafts, skills, methodologies, and mediums.

Teaching from the practicalities and artistry of printmaking, through the precise observational world of photography, all the way to the digital application of these via software and fundamental design principles, helping lead to students always being kept on their toes, engaged, and pushing further with their work. The students develop not just a comprehensive list of techniques, but new ways to investigate and explore our world, their surroundings and work.

Adrian has worked in the vocation of education for many years, as well as working in the design industry in Tongatapu, New York, Canada and here. His work has involved print, web, motion graphics and illustration work and has covered everything from infographics, branding through to vjing. But teaching is his love, to support and nurture the abilities of others, to get the best from his students is where he thrives. To learn and to grow is a life-long journey, to explore and experiment is something that should never stop – E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata.

Alice Moore - Tutor


Alice is currently leading Te Auaha’s China projects and has extensive experience developing tailored courses for the unique cultural context of China. She is a passionate teacher of visual communication design, encouraging students to discover and develop their own distinct critically informed creative practice.

Alice is a multidisciplinary designer who works across illustration, motion design, animation, publication design and typography. Her work employs both hand and digital techniques and seeks to impart meaningful messages – it is playful and curious to sustain imaginative creative thought and thinking.

 Creative Technologies tutor, Deidre Sullivan

Deidra Sullivan - Tutor

BDes (Photography), MFA, BA History & Art History (Hons)

Deidra (Dee) is a lecturer on the Creative Technologies programmes at Te Auaha, specialising in photography and 2D image making processes. She has been teaching at WelTec since 2012.

Her research interests relate to alternative and historic photographic processes, and art and photographic history. In 2018 Deidra co-curated the exhibition ‘Still Looking: Peter McLeavey and the last photograph’ at the Adam Art Gallery, and in 2020 she was the (acting) Photography Curator at the Alexander Turnbull Library

Andy Firth - Technician


Andy is the Technician for CT Programmes and the Whitireia Music Programme. Andy has worked for WelTec for over ten years.

The Technician is responsible for the programme specific equipment and spaces as well as looking after the Health and Safety issues for the workshop and studio spaces. Andy’s expertise and support to students and staff are aimed at helping you to get the most out of your time at Te Auaha.

Music Staff

Music tutor Gloria Hildred

Gloria Hildred - Tutor  

BAppA Music

Gloria has worked in various fields of education and the music industry for over 20 years, playing with Kiwi artists including Jools Topp (Topp Twins) Brendan Power, Rodger Fox and the late Mahinarangi Tocker. She has also worked with NZ theatre groups such as Red Mole, Not Broadcast Quality and Magdalena Aotearoa in live sound production, event management, set building and performance. She has 30 years experience in a diverse range of businesses as a manager, director and sole trader. As a bass player, Gloria has played with The Kapiti Coast Big Band (jazz), Mtown (Motown covers), The John O’Connor Experiment and continues to play in various bands focusing on originals. She has been teaching and tutoring since 1992, and is a BAppA (Music) graduate of Whitireia.

Music Tutor Phil Hornblow

Phil Hornblow - Senior Tutor 

BMus, Amus T.C.L.

Phil has worked in the Recording/Music industry for over 25 years. He owns and manages a music production studio, producing music across a wide range of genres including recording work with the NZSO and various classical choral ensembles, radio and television commercials, production work with singer-songwriters and bands and educational audio resources. He is also an arranger and keyboard player for the Dave Feehan Band and does recording work as a session player. Phil is a committed educator with 14 years’ experience teaching on the Whitireia music programme.

Music tutor Daniel Adams

Daniel Adams - Tutor   

BMus, BA, DipTeach

Daniel Adams is a leading researcher of the arts at Te Auaha. He has presented papers at Arts and Humanities conferences in Brighton, UK and in Venice, Italy, and at the Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference in Launceston, Tasmania. Daniel’s Master’s thesis Crawford, On The Hill, By The Sea (2022) involved interviewing former inmates and staff of Mt Crawford Prison on Te Motu Kairangi Miramar Peninsula and representing those lived experiences in sound, song, music and video.

Daniel has composed, performed and toured work with the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of The Arts, Wellington Fringe Festival, Wellington Jazz Festival, Tauranga Arts Festival and Hamilton ‘Fuel’ Festival. His wide research interests encompass songwriting, audiovisual composition, community formation, penal reform and transgressive artistry.

Music tutor, Lisa Tomlins

Lisa Tomlins - Tutor

Lisa has 30-plus years in the music industry as a backing vocalist and lead singer/songwriter with Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shapeshifter, Michael Parmenter, Hollie Smith and Neil Finn, to name a few and currently with, Lord Echo, LAB and Rhombus, is also a judge for Smokefree Rockquest, MC and music mentor.

Music Tutor, Sandy Cairns James

Sandy Cairns-James - Tutor

BA Jazz, MA Ed, PG Dip (Singing Teaching)

Sandy Cairns-James is a vocal coach and educator in the music department of Whitireia and Weltec NZ. Sandy's musical career started at a young age as the lead singer in original and local rock bands. In the music department, Sandy specialises in voice coaching and in more recent time's academic papers. Her singing career and knowledge has facilitated in developing a reliable and comprehensive vocal programme. To achieve her own goals in education, she has acquired a Jazz Performance under-graduate degree, a Post-graduate diploma in singing teaching, and an MA in Education. The educational pathway has enhanced Sandy's teaching abilities and given her the necessary tools to achieve success. The topic of interest for her MA in Education was to explore sport psychology methods and how these might transfer into voice training. The Whitireia Journal of Nursing, Healthy and Social Services Issue 26 2019 has published the findings of this thesis.

With a musical career spanning over 25 years as the lead singer in original and local rock bands. With a Jazz Performance undergraduate degree, and her MA in Education which was to explore sport psychology methods and how these might transfer into voice training.

Sandy's motivation is to see all students reach their full potential both academically and in the music industry.

Music Tutor Johnny Lawrence

Johnny Lawrence - Tutor

Dip. Jazz Performance

Jonny is a professional guitar/bass player who has worked extensively abroad in the Caribbean, Thailand and the USA and he brings 17 years of professional musicianship with him. When back on home soil Jonny regularly tutors and leads local soul/funk band Pyramids, funk/fusion band Hoonhunters and the electric duo Ugly Disco. He also plays bass for Eva Lankum and continues playing on cruise ships as time permits.

 Marino Karena Music Tutor

Marino Karena - Tutor 

BAppA Music  

Having been raised at Ratana, Marino Karena began his music career at the age of eight, in the Ratana Brass Band. He has been working in the music industry for over 30 years, and in that time has played with or supported Herbs, Dalvanius Prime, Māori Volcanics, Roger Fox, Jenny Morrison, Adijah and Midge Marsden to name a few. Marino has been teaching for the last 20 years preparing students for employment in the music industry. He is highly proficient in a variety of music genres ranging from Rock, Blues, Reggae, RnB, to contemporary and has dexterity for teaching across all age groups and is an active band member himself, singing and playing guitar, bass, and trombone.

Music tutor, Tyson Smith 

Tyson Smith - Tutor

Dip. Jazz Performance

Tyson performs as a guitarist in a range of genres from blues, jazz and funk gigs to TV and Theatre productions including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and was guitarist with singer Hollie Smith for many years. He has also been an itinerant guitar tutor at high schools around Wellington. He has produced various albums, including 2 under his own name. He regularly performs around New Zealand festivals and venues as a solo act or in various ensembles including psychedelic rock group The Electrons. 

Music tutor, Rick Cranson

Rick Cranson - Tutor

BMus (Jazz) 

Rick has 18 years of experience teaching. Some of his work includes Little Bushman, Auckland Philharmonia, NZSO, Trinity Roots, The Tyson Smith Group, Darren Watson, The James Illingworth Trio, Jeff Henderson and Johnathan Crayford. Currently Rick plays around the country in various ensembles and bands and is drummer/composer for KITA.

Music - DJ and Electronic Music Production 

Music Tutor, Tom Scrase 

Tom Scrase - Tutor

Tom has established himself as one of Aotearoa’s leading drummers – performing with he likes of dDub, Corrella, and in New Zealand’s premier percussion ensemble Strike! Percussion. He has taught throughout New Zealand in workshops, masterclasses, and itinerant teaching for over 20 years and is excited to be part of the Whitireia whanau.

Creating sound design for dance, film and installation, Tom’s creative outlet – Aotūroa – sees elements of ambient, textural soundscapes blended with complex and hypnotic rhythms and field recordings. Continuing with a regular performance schedule as a session drummer, Tom also makes and plays Taonga Pūoro, which forms a major part of his live ambient performances.

Having performed at major festivals (Rhythm & Vines, New Zealand Festival, Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival) with commissions for the 2018 Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast), Tom has a wealth of knowledge to inspire the next generation of creators and performers.


Lucas Zaner - Tutor

BoC Performing Arts (Music)

Lucas is a Wellington based DJ, musician, and performer. After completing his bachelor's degree in music, he continued to develop his audio production which has since been featured on international electronic music platforms including EDM Movement, Drop Nation, and Digital High. 

Lucas has been involved in various roles throughout the Wellington performance community with highlights including sound and lighting design for exhibitions at the Te Auaha gallery, performances at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, and performances involving members of the Royal Family Dance Crew.


Performing Arts Staff

Commercial Dance 

Esther Robinson - Commercial Dance, Performing Arts Tutor

Esther Robinson - Tutor

Dip Commercial Dance, NZAMD

Esther Forsyth Robinson trained at Wellington Performing Arts Centre to complete her Diploma in Commercial Dance in 2007. After graduating, Esther spent two years living and working in Melbourne and getting involved with the Australian dance scene. Since that time, she has travelled the world performing in Australia, America, and Japan. Credits include Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Princess Cruises. Esther loved her time working on cruise ships and has been lucky enough to visit almost all the continents and see many countries. She feels blessed to have lived a life where she was able to dance and travel at the same time – her two biggest passions.

After retiring from performing in 2014, she focused on teaching in New Zealand. She loves working with the students at Te Auaha, especially those that aspire to have careers in the dance industry. Esther is passionate about dance and hopes to instill this same passion and love for the arts in her students. Her wish for them is that they will leave the course as strong, hardworking, versatile dancers ready to tackle the ever-changing dance world.

Jun Samblaceno, Commercial Dance tutor

Vivencio (Jun) Samblaceno JR - Tutor

Dip Commercial Dance, NZAMD

Vivencio, (Jun as he is also known by), trained in Manila, Philippines and danced professionally with the Philippine Ballet Theatre. He later joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company and performed classical, neo-classical, and contemporary works in Australasia, Europe, America, and Asia for twenty years as a soloist and principal.

He received his Fellowship degree with distinction under the International Dance Teachers' Association UK and is a Mutually Recognised Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance. He has an Adult and Tertiary Teaching qualification through the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.

He also teaches at the New Zealand School of Dance and the Chilton Ballet Academy. He has taught adjudicated classes at the Alana Haines Australasian Awards and was an artistic judge at The Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award. Jun holds Ballroom, Latin American and New Vogue NZ titles and continues to train and dance competitively.

He has been teaching Classical Ballet, Pilates and Dance Styles for the Commercial Dance and Musical Theatre courses for over ten years and has a passion for mentoring and passing on his knowledge.

Musical Theatre Staff

Kate Marshall, performing arts tutor

Kate Marshall - Programme Co-ordinator, Musical Director and Tutor

BMus in Composition


Kate Marshall has a BMus in Composition from Victoria University under the tutelage of New Zealand composers Jack Body, Ross Harris, and John Psathas. Her composition credits include The Merchant of Venice for VUW Summer Shakespeare, Twelfth Night for KAT, and Nictitate performed by the Wellington Symphonia.

Following in the footsteps of her family, Kate is an accomplished Musical Director, accompanist and musician having been at the helm of numerous productions and concerts including; Little Shop of Horrors, The Addams Family, Cry Baby, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, West Side Story, High School Musical, Fame, Hairspray, Cabaret, Little Voice, Demolition of the Century at Circa, Evita for Amici Productions and PLT, and her own Marshall Stack productions of Godspell, Smokey Joe’s Café and on Broadway.

Her true passion is combining education with industry. Kate is a Patron for Kauri Theatre and will also be involved in the first show for Capital Theatre Trust which will be the start of new things for Musical Theatre in Wellington.

Leigh Evans, performing arts tutor

Leigh Evans - Tutor

Leigh is trained in RAD Ballet and American Jazz and is recognized as one of New Zealand’s foremost Choreographers and Jazz tutors.

In 2001, she pioneered the Commercial Dance Course and has been sharing decades of experience and industry knowledge to both the Commercial Dance and Musical Theatre courses ever since. Leigh has been creating, choreographing, and directing shows for both programmes.

Addams Family, Crybaby, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Footloose are just a few of the much-loved shows that Leigh has helped our Musical Theatre students perform.

She has been involved in many successful Musical Theatre and Stage Productions throughout the country. Although firmly based in Wellington, Leigh's skills are in such demand that she travels regularly around the country and overseas to fulfil choreography, adjudicating, tutoring and directing assignments.

For film she has worked on “The Waterhorse” and “King Kong”. For television, “McDonalds Young Entertainers”, “Camp Rock” and “The Big Night In”.

She has worked with New Zealand’s Musical Theatre talents, Tina Cross, Jackie Clarke and Shane Cortese. Last year she worked on the Joseph Gordon-Levitt Apple TV show ‘Mr Corman” and this year a high-profile American Horror movie being shot in New Zealand starring Mia Goth. Because of this, our students were given the opportunity to work on these projects and have built important industry connections as a result.

Stage and Screen 

Carmel McGlone, Performing Arts tutor

Carmel McGlone - Tutor

BA, Dip Exec Mus, Dip Teach

Carmel McGlone is one of New Zealand’s most renowned actresses. She has performed in theatres, film and television her entire professional life. During the 1990s, Carmel was a member of Simon Phillip’s ensemble of actors at the State Theatre Co, Australia. In 2004, Carmel received the Chapman Tripp Best Actress award for her role as Lady Macbeth in Circa’s production of Macbeth. In 2009, Carmel was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the Chapman Tripp Awards for her role in the Willem Wasenaar directed production of Blood Wedding. Carmel has been nominated in the Film and Television awards three times. In the latter half of 2010, Carmel acted in both series of the Emmy award-winning on-line TV drama Reservoir Hill. Carmel stars in the feature film Hook Line and Sinker which premiered at the Embassy. 

For eight years Carmel held the position of senior drama tutor at Wellington Performing Arts Centre in Wellington, and since 2009 has tutored at the Whitireia Performance Centre. 

In 2011 Carmel was granted a prestigious fellowship to work at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. 

Tess Jamieson Performing Arts Tutor

Tess Jamieson - Tutor

Karaha BPA

Tess gained a BPA from Toi Whakaari in 2010 and has worked as a professional actress in the TV, film, theatre and radio industry since. 

Her many credits include Seed by Elisabeth Easther at Circa in 2015, the feature film How to Meet Girls from a Distance in 2014, Pop Up Pantomime by Geraldine Brophy in 2016, and playing Beth in the internationally successful web series Potluck by Ness Simons. Potluck gained six nominations worldwide including the United Kingdom and Dublin webfest and has been picked up by TVNZ On Demand, Kinda T.V and Revry. Her solo show Please help yourself was picked up by Radio New Zealand and transcribed for radio in 2012. 

Tess produced, wrote and performed in her short film Coffee Group which was nominated for an online audience award as part of the Promofest Short of the Year competition in 2016. She is currently producing her next film project, a web series called burnt chops. She is a regular voice over artist for New Zealand Media and Entertainment, school journals and Clemenger BBDO. 

Paula van Beek - Performing Arts Tutor

Paula van Beek - Tutor

Paula van Beek is an artist and arts educator with a passion for supporting emerging arts practitioners to create original performative work. She has found many ways to live this passion throughout her career including founding a theatre company (Open Book 1999), being the Programme Manager of BATS Theatre (2001-2004) and teaching performance and creative practice at Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Melbourne University (2008 – 2018) and Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School (2018). Dedicated to pushing her practice and finding new forms and frames for performance Paula has just recently completed a Research Masters in Fine Art from RMIT School of Art, Melbourne (2018). She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Animatuering (Performance Making) from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Melbourne University (2006) and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Theatre and Film from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand (1998). 

She has travelled widely with her work with projects across Aotearoa/NZ and Australia, as well as in Colombia and Indonesia, training in the UK, residencies in Europe and the US, and teaching in Tokyo. She has made works in car parks, theatres, hallways, galleries, on river banks and online. 

Paula is thrilled to be back in her hometown of Wellington and join the Stage & Screen team to train the next generation of actors, performance makers, artistic thinkers and doers. Her extensive experience working in the arts sector as a devisor, performer, director, lighting designer, and arts manager enables Paula to approach making work from multiple angles. She is excited about the potential of collaboration, cross-pollination and inter-disciplinary practice under the roof of Te Auaha. 

Paula is active in her own arts projects and within an expanded performance practice she investigates self, site and alternative performance forms with a focus on feminine experiences. 

Publishing Staff

All staff of the publishing programme come directly from industry, where they honed their skills and knowledge. Most are still working for publishers alongside their teaching.

The programme also draws on the expertise of numerous specialist tutors and industry speakers. Many publishing professionals take classes through the year – whether to teach a core part of the curriculum or take a specialist lesson or simply as a visiting speaker.

Odessa Owens - Tutor

Odessa Owens has worked in publishing for over a decade, making award-winning books for Te Papa Press until 2015, when she joined the Whitireia Publishing programme. In 2016 she was the convening judge of the PANZ Book Design Awards, and she was one of the judges of the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Theresa Crewdson - Tutor

Theresa Crewdson completed the Diploma in Publishing in 2006 and the Editing Masterclass in 2012. She worked at Lift Education for nearly a decade and is now a freelance editor for both local and international clients.

Screen Production

Corey Levaillant 

BA Theatre, G.Dip. Film and Television, BSc Ecology and Biodiversity, C. NZ Film and Television

Corey is a producer, director, 1st AD, and tertiary-level tutor in production and assistant directing. He has worked behind the scenes across a wide range of fields, including natural history and documentary, television, short and feature films and live theatre and performance. He is Secretary of the Wellington Branch of the Screen Industry Guild of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and a member of the Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand.

Te Auaha Staff

 Mick Jayes - Head of School

Michel (Mick) Jays - Head of School (HOS), Creative and Hospitality

MPP Hospitality and Tourism, D. Business (Management), City & Guilds 706/1 & 706/2 (Cookery & Culinary Arts)

Mick began his career in tertiary education in 1990 and has developed significant experience and knowledge of the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnic (ITP) sector from teaching, administration, and management perspectives, across a number of discipline areas, culminating in this current position as Head of School – Creative and Hospitality for the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and Whitireia Community Polytechnic. His specialist subject area is management, which he has practised within different contexts with a focus on sustainability, strategic management, organisational behaviour, marketing, and operations management.

Aside from his teaching experience, Mick has been involved in research projects and activities resulting in presentation and publication of research in peer reviewed forums in relation to customer expectations and perceptions of service, management and leadership skills for industry, industry views on vocational education and training, and multi-dimensional scaling of tourist accommodation preferences and choices.

Mick’s years prior to 1990 were spent in the hospitality industry, working in the food & beverage and accommodation sectors in Auckland and Wellington, including three years of self-employment as the proprietor of a restaurant.

Brenda Saris - Programme Manager, Creative and Performing Arts

PhD, MPhil, MDes, Dip VCD

Brenda’s career began with art direction and graphic design roles; she has over twenty years’ experience in the design and advertising industries in the UK, Holland and New Zealand. Her experience as an all-round creative meant she was able to support the strategic initiatives of corporate clients, retailers, manufacturers, and high-profile service industries alike.

Following completion of her MDes in 2010, Brenda worked as a lecturer at AUT, then moved to Whitireia in 2012. Brenda’s teaching within the Creative Technologies programmes centred on enabling students to transition into a commercial context, with a focus on the nexus between typography and illustration for brand identity purposes. Brenda has been in the role of programme manager for Whitireia and Weltec since early 2019.

Brenda gained her PhD in 2020, her overarching research interests lie within sociocultural and historic contexts of creativity, creative design process learning, and transnational education.

Marietta, Operations Manager for Creative and Hospitality

Marietta Foote - Operations Manager, Creative and Hospitality

NZ Dip in Hospitality 

Marietta has a background in Education Administration Management, she worked for EIT Hawkes Bay for 28 years as an Administration Manager.  She was appointed as enrolment advisor for the School of Creative and Hospitality Whitireia in April 2016, moving to Senior Enrolment Advisor and now Operations Manager for the Creative and Hospitality School.

Marietta’s role as Operations Manager is to oversee and manage all administration requirements across the School of Creative and Hospitality.  She also chairs the School’s achievement committee meetings and has responsibility for managing the five administration staff.

Veronica Harwood, Administration for Te Auaha

Verónica (Vero) Harwood - Administrator Creative 

Public Relations  

Verόnica (Vero) began working at Whitireia in 2009 across different campuses and areas including: Foundation Studies, Performing Arts, Radio and Journalism. When the new Te Auaha Campus opened in the city, Vero worked her magic as a host, welcoming and helping with enquires about the new campus, the venues, courses, gallery, and the building itself.

At the beginning of 2020, Vero was appointed administrator for the CT and Music programmes. In this role, Vero is key to ensuring the smooth running of these programmes, and helps to facilitate contact between students, tutors, and the programme manager. If you have any enquiries, she is always ready and happy to help. For any students that speak Spanish, Vero hails from Chile, so she loves any opportunity to speak her native tongue.

Bianca Aquino - Administrator Creative

BSc Biology, C. Foundational Skills

Bianca has a background in Marine Zoology and worked as a Research Assistant in the Philippines. During that time, she was also working remotely as an administrator for companies based overseas. When her family decided that it was time to start a new chapter in New Zealand, she eagerly went with them and started fresh.

Before finishing a course at WelTec Petone, she got recommended for a fixed-term role as a Host/Administrator at Te Auaha. With her love for the arts in mind, she applied without hesitation and got accepted. After a few months, Bianca was offered a permanent position as an administrator who mainly looks after the Media, Literature, and Performing Arts programmes. You can always count on Bianca to lend a helping hand with a smile on her face.

Karen Harris - Administrator/Host, Cosmetology

Karen has been working for Whitireia and Weltec since 2003. She has been involved in the hairdressing industry since her early twenties, having previously owned a salon, rented a chair, worked as an off-job co-ordinator, and tutored hairdressing apprentices for the past three years. This has given Karen a great understanding of the creative industry in which we work in.

At the beginning of 2022 Karen decided to help out the administrative team at Te Auaha with her skills. Karen is thoroughly enjoying her new role and assisting tutors with admin help within the cosmetology team.

Karen is very enthusiastic about her role but she also enjoys travelling and socializing with family and friends.

Linda Smillie, Operations Officer

Linda Smillie – Operations Officer, Creative and Hospitality

BA, Psychology (Macquarie University, Sydney)

Linda started working at Te Auaha campus in February 2020 after various administration roles in education/research organisations, originally arriving from Sydney, Australia in July 2005.

Linda’s role as Operations Officer is to assist the Operations Manager, provide support to the Head of School as needed, and to help with any operational and administrative tasks required at Te Auaha and Cuba Street campuses. She also compiles minutes for the school’s Achievement Committee meetings, and the school’s Board of Studies Committee meetings.

With her love of fine dining at very reasonable prices, Linda has been a devoted supporter of the Hospitality campus’ “Bistro 52”, since 2006 (when the Bistro restaurant was based at Petone). Plus, she has been a long-term client of WelTec’s hairdressing services, since 2011. For many years, Linda has enjoyed attending musical theatre and dance performances, concerts, plays and tribute artist/band shows.

As a lover of all things within the creative industry, Linda appreciates working with and assisting the creative and hospitality staff, students and visitors at both campuses.

Writing for Creative Industries 

Anna Taylor - Writing for Creative Industries tutor

Anna Taylor - Tutor 

MA (Creative Writing)

Anna’s first book ‐ Relief, a collection of short stories – won Best First Book of Fiction at the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards. The first draft of Relief, which was awarded the Adam Prize in Creative Writing in 2006, was written during her MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University's IIML.

Anna was the recipient of the 2009 Todd Writer’s Bursary and a Sargeson Fellowship in 2012, where she was writer in residence at the Frank Sargeson Centre in Auckland. Her work has been published in Hue and Cry, Sport, Turbine, The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories, and the German language edition of Some Other Country.

Donna Banicevich Gera

Donna Banicevich-Gera - Senior Tutor

MA (Creative Writing)

Donna’s work has been produced for radio, page, stage, and screen, with her stage plays being presented in New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Austria, the USA, and Alaska. She has had several overseas artist residencies, and attended many offshore workshops, seminars, and conferences, enabling her to acquire knowledge and write outside her New Zealand framework.

Donna has written a trilogy of plays based on Croatian immigration into New Zealand: Anton’s Women, Land without Sundays, and Tarara Child. Two scripts My Name is Ruhi (which premièred at Waikato Museum), and Burn, have been developed using oral history interviews. She currently writes a bi‐monthly column for PANZ (Playwrights Association of New Zealand), and is presently researching storytelling and scriptwriting in business.

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