The 60th annual festival will run from 7 July to 10 August 2024


Jonathan has just completed Doctoral studies at the University of Waikato with Katherine Austin. To compliment his studies in this field, he plays a wide variety of historic keyboards (harpsichord, clavichord, organ and fortepiano), and has performed on the harpsichord in ensembles in both Auckland and Waikato. Jonathan is an alumna of the New Zealand Opera School, and most recently he has joined the The Aotearoa New Zealand Opera Studio (TANZOS) team as a Performance Fellow.


Monica completed her early ballet training in New Zealand before moving to Australia to study pre-professionally at Atelier Australia. Later she moved to Europe and attended short term studies with the Royal Danish Ballet School Ecole de Danse de Supérieure de Rosella Hightower, Brussels International Ballet School and Victor Ullate Escuela where she completed her final year of study. She was the first New Zealander accepted to compete in the Vaganova Prix International Ballet Competition where she was awarded a special international prize and had the opportunity to attend classes at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Following Grand Audition, she was also invited by Yuri Fateev to attend company classes with the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia After graduation from Victor Ullate Escuela she joined the National Ballet and Opera of Ukraine and later was then offered a contract with Perm Ballet, Russia but unfortunately due to Covid was not able to commence this contract. In 2023 Monica graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance Professional Dancers’ Postgraduate Teaching Certificate, becoming an RAD registered teacher and was the recipient of Peacocke Dance Trust scholarship towards this study. She is passionate about sharing her wealth of knowledge with aspiring dancers so that their talent can reach their full potential and foster a lifelong love of dance.


MARGOT BUTTONJunior and Senior Vocal

Margot, a Mezzo Soprano, began her singing career with a performance of “Bessie the Black Cat” in Thora Lewin’s piano studio at the age of 5. The fate of Bessie in verse 4 was hugely traumatic and the performance ended in a flood of tears. She was not deterred by this tragedy however and went on to complete her MMus in Opera Performance at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee School of Music. The ‘Bessie’ experience ultimately proving invaluable as a mezzo’s onstage lot is rarely a happy one. Margot has appeared as a soloist in opera, oratorio and recital in New Zealand, Australia, England, and the USA and recorded for radio, television, and film. She worked as a professional singer, arts manager and educator in the United States for 19 years before returning to New Zealand in 2010. Margot is a former director of the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Opera for Harvard University and the Annals of Improbable Research, Executive Director of the Vergennes Opera House, and Artistic Director for the Barre Opera House, and manager and arts-educator for Brown Bag Opera in Boston. She was also on the teaching faculties of St. Michael’s College, the Flynn Theatre of the Performing Arts, and the Monteverdi Music Schools and has guest lectured for the Opera departments of the Boston Conservatory at the Berklee School of Music and the Longy School of Music. Since returning to New Zealand Margot has appeared regularly as a soloist and is the Artistic Director and a Co-Founder of Otautahi’s Toi Toi Opera. She maintains a large professional voice studio and regularly adjudicates regional vocal competitions. She is also an examiner for University of Canterbury’s vocal performance program. Recent engagements include performing the role of the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas conducted by Chad Kelly with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, performances with Voices New Zealand, and directing A Christmas Carol by Philip Norman’s, John Davies operas Goldie B. Locks and the Three Singing Bears and Three Little Pigs, and Prince Orlovsky’s Masquerade Ball (Die Fledermaus abridged) for Toi Toi Opera and the Christchurch Arts Centre’s Summer ‘23 – ‘24 Opera Festival. Additionally, she presented recitals for CBS Music, Akaroa French Festival, and the Nut Point Gallery and was a member of the chorus for NZ Opera’s production of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte. Margot studied voice with Lorraine Nubar, and Elisabeth Phinney in the USA, Prof. Rae Woodland of the Royal College of Music in England, and Emily Mair, New Zealand. She has been very fortunate to also coach with a number of notable artists including Dalton Baldwin, Phyllis Curtain, Dame Janet Baker, Warren Jones, Prof. George Shirley, and Cecelia Schieve. Her roles have included Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Principessa in Suor Angelica, Augusta in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Mother and the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, Regina in Regina, Rosalinda and Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Mrs Noye in Noye’s Fludde, and Climene in L’egisto. She is greatly looking forward to adjudicating the 2024 South Auckland Performing Arts Competition Society Inc. Junior and Senior Vocal Competitions and wishes all the competitors the very best of luck.

KRISTI DAHMTap and Troupes

Born and raised in Wellington New Zealand, Kristi is trained in all genres of dance & holds NZAMD Solo Diploma’s in Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop & Contemporary. After graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Arts (majoring in Dance), she then went on to spend five years working as a professional dancer onboard Cruise Ships and travelling the world. Since returning home during the pandemic, Kristi has found a passion for teaching and now enjoys sharing her dance knowledge with younger students, while helping them excel and grow to be the best dancers that they can be. She is honored to have been asked to adjudicate at this competition and looks forward to seeing the talent which South Auckland has to offer.

BEGONIA CHANInstrumental

Begonia is currently a full-time tutti cellist with the Auckland Philharmonia. She started her musical journey with the violin at the age of 4 and the piano at 5. However her passion soon turned to the cello at the age of 9 and within 2 years of cello playing, she was successfully admitted into the Shenzhen Arts School. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the Royal Conservatoire The Hague in the Netherlands by the age of 20, and went on to complete her Master’s degree from the Hochschule für Musik Dresden in Germany, graduating with full marks across the board.

As an all-rounded musician, Begonia has performed with orchestras, ensembles, and as a soloist in numerous internationally renowned venues with conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Manfred Honneck, Krzysztof Urbański, Omir Meir Wellber, Antony Hermus and Benjamin Zander. She has also participated in a number of summer festivals including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany, International Summer Academy Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, PyeongChang Music Festival in Korea, and masterclasses with acclaimed cellists Jian Wang, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Laurence Lesser, Troels Svane, Julian Lloyd Webber, Hans Jensen, Louise Hopkins, and Wolfgang Boettcher among many others.



Emma is a well-known theatre and education practitioner in Aotearoa. Growing up in theatre Emma spent much of her life training, first as a voice student of Honor McKellar at Otago University before transferring and completing a Diploma in Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) in Nelson, a Bachelor of Education (Primary) with a Post Grad Diploma in Music Education, and a Masters in Dance Education, both at Auckland University.

Emma spent 15 years as a full-time educator before leaving in 2017 to create her own performing arts company StageAntics which offers training in all areas of theatre across Aotearoa.

Emma is the President of Musical Theatre,NZ, a Life Member and Past President of Drama NZ: the National Subject Association for Drama in Education, and is the Producer of the Junior Theatre Festival New Zealand.

Emma has presented at numerous conferences nationally and internationally as well as being a faculty member of the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta (US), Sacramento (US), Birmingham (UK) and Australia.


Julie has been teaching speech, drama, and communication skills since 1986. She taught at ACG Parnell College (Auckland) for many years, then taught for five years at St Peters Cambridge after moving to the Waikato in 2018. She has a strong interest in local theatre and enjoys both acting and directing. Julie is the President of the Matamata Dramatic Society. Recent stage appearances include Helena in “Last Legs”, Helga in “‘Allo ‘Allo”, and Annabel in “Pink Hammer”. Julie will play the role of Melissa in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” in September 2024. She is the director of the improv performance group The Improv-ables. Julie has been actively involved in Competitions Festivals for many years and was the Speech convener of the West Auckland Performing Arts Competitions Society for over 25 years. She has adjudicated at performing arts festivals throughout NZ. A keen writer, Julie has recently won local short story and ten-minute play writing competitions. Her children’s book “Art the Alien” was published in London in December 2023. Julie’s hobbies include tennis and quizzing.