The 2021 Festival initiated the Training Ground (master and apprentice programme) to address the shortage of professional-level and artistically-experienced management staff in the region.  The programme was highly results-oriented and has picked up where we left off to further develop sustainable careers for key festival roles, thus lifting capabilities to meet the market demand as the district continues to artistically mature.  Through this, the festival is developing the local arts infrastructure, arts communities and audiences.

The rangatahi will ‘own’ and deliver the presentation of the Festival, overseen by experienced music and event industry professionals.  This capability-building will be prioritised for and filled by district-based locals with an authentic effort to attract cultural and ethnic diversity. Best-practice mentoring techniques and associated duty-of-care will be evident.

Apprentice roles


Ella is completing her degree in communications and is joining us as the marketing and communications apprentice this year. She’s excited to put her skills to use and gain some hands-on, real life experience. She loves people, events and music and thought the Whakatipu Music Festival was the perfect combination of all three. Ella loves the environment in Queenstown and enjoys getting out and about on the local trails.




Fiona Woodham is Queenstown’s most experienced communications professional, having been at the helm of her public relations company Southern PR for more than 25 years. She has a strong journalism background including many years as a Fleet Street writer working at national newspaper level. In New Zealand she gained invaluable radio skills to add to her portfolio. Fiona is known for strong interviewing and writing skills — all with exceptional attention to detail– media relations and marketing, and for building enduring business relationships. She has an impeccable and intuitive understanding of ‘the story’ and has strong media relationships throughout New Zealand and Australia.


Ella is our front of house apprentice this year. Having been involved in other festivals and events in the area, she was keen to get involved and gain some hands-on experience working for the Whakatipu Music Festival. Passionate about sustainable fashion, she has her own preloved/vintage clothing page on Instagram. Ella’s favourite things about living in Queenstown are the delicious hopso joints and being surrounded by such a beautiful natural environment.




Janey can be seen working or helping on most public and ticketed events in the town. She has been working in the events and venue industry for 15 years across various roles throughout New Zealand and based in Queenstown for the past 10 years.

Janey has joined the Whakatipu Music Festival wanting to help build local skills in our community for events – often there are roles available for working in the industry that are straight into the job with no time to train, to be able to present an opportunity like this where there is time allocated to pass on the knowledge and upskill individuals means its a big win all round.

The Whakatipu Music Festival is becoming an established event with Queenstown at its home! Janey loves the opportunities it provides for the Queenstown community bringing together professionally our local and emerging talent with national performers. She is mostly looking forward to working with the team and keeping her creativity and passion for the arts alive as we navigate through the pandemic.


Cuillin is our stage manager apprentice this year. She has been the events manager at The World Bar and Yonder for the past three years and is currently launching her own event’s management company, CUR8. Most of her experience is in the electronic and live music industry. She is excited to work within the local arts sector and the new opportunities that will arise working with the Wakatipu Music Festival.





Karis is our amazing Operations Manager and one of our Stage Manager mentors this year. Karis grew up performing and has spent seven years across Australia, the UK and US working professionally as a performer and dancer. Coming back to New Zealand, she wanted to continue working in the arts. Joining the festival last year, Karis transferred her incredible skill set to the back of house and was our production and stage manager apprentice. After a successful festival last year, she jumped at the chance to take on a complex and essential role.



Annabel fell in love with theatre, film and live events at a young age and has been fortunate enough to turn this passion into a career. After studying costume in the UK she moved to New Zealand and became involved with a local amateur dramatics group and diversified into stage management. The diversification continued last year when she undertook the live stream technical apprenticeship with the music festival. She is currently working in the TV industry but is thrilled to have this opportunity to return to live theatre and be involved in the music festival for a second year.


Adrian Hollay is a composer, sound designer and music producer with over 15 years’ experience. He works predominantly for Radio New Zealand and has recorded hundreds of concerts by New Zealand’s orchestras and chamber music groups. Many of those concerts have been live broadcasts on RNZ Concert and have been streamed live online. Since 2014 Adrian has worked extensively with Auckland Theatre Company, composing soundtracks and designing for many major productions. His music has also featured in short films, documentaries and commercial media in Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Adrian composed and produced the theme music for RNZ’s morning programme First Up.

“I love nothing better than a large empty space that I can create temporary glory for the client and guests while working in logistical mastery of the small detail to keep everything running smoothly.”

Adrian’s recordings have been released on music labels Naxos and Atoll, as well as being broadcast on public radio stations across the globe.

In 2019 his work was awarded Gold, and in 2017 Silver, at the New York Festivals Best Radio Program Awards for ‘Best Live Sound’. 


Wren is one of our AV technicians apprentices this year. They work as a junior lighting technician for TomTom Productions and are excited to gain more hands-on experience. Wren has a musical background, playing the jazz trombone and bass. In their spare time, they also enjoy sewing and hiking in the many beautiful places Queenstown offers. 





Riley is one of our AV technician apprentices this year. He works in stage lighting with TomTom Productions and wanted to gain more experience in the video side of things. Riley is excited to get onboard with the Whakatipu Music Festival to get more experience and learning in relation to video and audio in events. Based in Queenstown, Riley loves the scenery and the people.





After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Television & Broadcasting, Benn spent a number of years working in the Television industry based in London and working in a variety of genres such as Food Competitions, History & Factual Entertainment for a number of broadcasters including the BBC, Discovery Channel & MTV. After honing his skill set, Benn landed his dream job producing a weekly Football based highlights show for Nickelodeon UK, where he was tasked with writing the scripts, directing live recordings, editing VT’s and delivering a finished show to a strict deadline. “I have been working for TomTom Productions since moving to New Zealand in 2019, where I have been fortunate to experience a different side of the entertainment industry and helping to produce amazing live events, with hands-on experience in lighting, LED walls, projection mapping and live streaming.”


Leila is a writer and filmmaker who is looking forward to getting some experience in event photography. Originally from the UK, she finds the beauty of New Zealand endlessly inspiring and you’ll rarely find her without a camera in hand (particularly in Queenstown!) With a passion for music and festivals, she’s excited to capture this wonderful event for all involved.





Dan is our fantastic photography mentor this year. Based in Queenstown, Dan says he’s surrounded by pretty much the best backdrop a photographer could wish for. 

“This scenery seems to amplify life, moments of love, appreciation and beauty are more powerful and profound, and it’s my honour to capture events in this beautiful region.”

Dan was born in the land of didgeridoos and koala’s but has lived in Queenstown since 2005. Dan and his lovely wife have brought up two free range children in the area. To whom he is thankful for allowing and supporting him in pursuing his passion. He is a keen bee keeper and also likes hooning around the local trails on his e-bike. Dan has over 10 years’ photography experience under his belt, and in that time, there aren’t many places around here that he hasn’t helicoptered or hiked to. Dan’s a free-range, organic photographer, letting things unfold naturally in front of his lens, capturing beautifully candid moments.


Nicole will be supporting Janey Labes with hospitality operations. She has worked in the event and hospitality industries throughout her twenty years in the Whakatipu. Nicole fell in love with the mountain and lake vistas, making Queenstown her home. She admires the talent we have locally, the diverse events produced in the region and is proud to be a part of teams delivering top-notch events. She loves exploring the trails, enjoying the plethora of hospo offerings and music of all genres.