7 May 2024

Creating community through collective music making

From Three to Seven, 4:00 pm on 7 May 2024

The New Zealand Ukulele Trust | Te Rūnanga Ukurere o Aotearoa is a volunteer-run charity inspired by Bill Sevesi’s dream that every child would learn to play the ukulele.

Over the last 17 years, the New Zealand Ukulele Trust has reached over 760 schools through its Kiwileles programme and over 2500 ukuleles have been given to schools through the Ukes in Schools initiative.

They've put together online resources of waiata specifically chosen and arranged for young players with a focus on the songwriters of Aotearoa, as well as songs from the Pacific Islands, songs for complete beginners, and songs of celebration.

And now the New Zealand Ukulele Trust has received the Baysting Prize for Children’s Champion at the 2024 NZ Children’s Music Awards.

NZ Ukulele Trust - Baysting Prize for Children's Champion, NZ Children's Music Awards

Photo: NZ Ukulele Trust

RNZ Concert's David Morriss talked with Maria Winder (MNZM), one of the founding trustees, about the Trust and how the programmes work.

"We now have our distinct Kiwi way of using the ukulele," she says. "The Kiwileles way is for children and teachers to learn alongside each other. So it's kind of like a tuākana/tēina model: the teachers are provided with the resources... the kids are often teaching the teachers, and the teachers are learning from the kids - from their cultures, from their way of learning."

"It's snowballed into this amazing opportunity for collective music making. I think that's one of the beauties of it... the community that is created through the Kiwileles. So it's special to Aotearoa because we have the parents involved, the grandparents, the teachers, the kids - in some schools it's the caretakers and the teacher aides as well."

"And all of this has been developed by a team of volunteers. I feel very proud of what has been achieved so far, and how it continues to grow."

NZ Ukulele Trust - kids holding ukuleles

Photo: Joshua McCormack