Our Team

Tama Waipara

Ruapani, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou
Chief Executive and Founding Artistic Director
Tama brings his extensive knowledge and expertise to imagining and designing the world-class creative experiences within the festival. It’s safe to say he’s the man for this job. With 8 years’ experience at the Auckland Arts Festival as Senior Programme Manager and Creative Associate and formerly Programme Leader Māori at Auckland Council (Arts and Culture). He’s also an award-winning musician, composer and performer, the Co-Chair of SOUNZ - Centre for New Zealand Music and a Board member of Te Hau ki Tūranga Governance Group.

Edwina Ashwell

Ngati Porou, Ngati Awa
Director of Business and Marketing
Eddie brings 20 years’ experience in marketing, communications and project management to her role, keeping our marketing on-point and Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival financially sustainable into the future - basically doing the do to be a great ancestor. She likes ducks - not cows apparently.

Rose McGrannachan

Uawa, Gisborne
Programme Manager
Rose brings a huge amount of logistical and event management experience to the festival. An Uawa girl at heart, Rose returned home having honed her skills at Adelaide Arts Festival, Adelaide Film Festival, and Dark Mofo (amongst others), which she puts to use making sure we have art, artists and basically everything ready for October. She’s a fan of all art forms, particularly when they intersect to create something new, and she loves the way Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival celebrates the diversity of our communities.

Jade Baty

Ngati Porou
Marketing and Communications Manager
A Gizzy-girl, born and bred with two children and two Chihuahuas, Jade’s experience extends from corporate event management through to being a specialist in communications and engagement. Since moving home in 2010 she’s worked in city centre promotions and held a senior position with Council over the last 6 years. At Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival it’s her job to get the word out - responsible for promotion and getting our audiences and stakeholders excited and engaged in our festival events. She’s all about how the festival brings people together - Whiria te tāngata!

Theresa Wawatai-Smith

Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Konohi, Ngāti Porou
Operations Manager
Born and bred in her village of Waihīrere, Theresa has gone on to clock up over 30-years of administration and operational experience working in both the public and private sectors. In between, she and hubby managed to raise two adult children, and she now has an obsession with her two moko - boys, soon to be joined by a sister. After returning to Tūranga in 2010, Theresa spent 8 years with Toihoukura School of Māori Arts based at EIT, as Head of School before a 2 year stint with Hauora Tairāwhiti. The new adventure with Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is like ‘coming home’ to a space that is vibrant, ever-changing and extremely challenging but satisfying.

Jordan Walker

Ngāti Kahungunu, Tūhoe
Line Producer
Jordan was raised in Tairāwhiti, in the pocket of Elgin. They have 10 years’ experience working within festivals in Australia and here in Aotearoa. Passionate about working with tamariki and rangatahi previously Jordan supported the development of a digital literacy programme in South Tāmaki. As a producer of events within the festival Jordan helps to uplift and tautoko artists. They’re passionate about the mechanics within the arts, having started their journey in production, driving forklifts and managing crew. Jordan loves a good chat but prefers deeper kōrero to small talk. If you have a dog, you have Jordan’s attention.

Karen Cartwright

Ticketing Manager
Karen, born in the UK, now lives in West Auckland with her 16 year old son. Karen has an extensive background in administration, logistics and ticketing across a number of industries. Ticketing Manager for both the Auckland Arts Festival (6 years) and the New Zealand International Film Festival (3 years), Karen is the maestro of ticketing for Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival events. She has also worked in the music industry for the last six years supporting one of NZ’s biggest acts Sons of Zion.

Rebecca Knox

Technical Director
Rebecca is an experienced technical and production manager who’s been involved in events and festivals in New Zealand and abroad for the past 17 years, including Splore Festival, Bright Nights, Aotearoa Music Awards, London Olympics 2012, the Taste of Auckland and many more. Being a master of many roles across production, logistics, site safety, stage management and wrangling volunteers, she’s responsible for making the magic happen at Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival achieving the ‘wow factor’ at our venues, sites and events.

Léo Garcia

Technical Assistant
Léo is a creative, experienced in project management. Born an hour out of Bordeaux (France) on the Atlantic Coast, after completing a Masters Degree in Communications & Marketing, he worked for the cultural division of Bordeaux's Council, and since moving to Aotearoa, has worked with Splore Festival, and Fresh Concept. He likes to use his skills to deliver cultural and sustainable projects for the community, and when he's busy not managing the technical set up and operation of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, he enjoys woodworking and surfing.

Sukhman Perhar

Communications Assistant
Sukhman has 9 years of social media marketing and customer service experience, working for start-ups, government agencies and within the tech industry in Canada, England, and New Zealand. She joined the festival after moving to Gisborne from Vancouver. She loves being a part of the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival because it works on making the Arts accessible to everyone. When not glued to her phone, she's usually walking her dog at the beach!