The New Zealand Ukulele Festival Goes To Town For 10th Birthday


Monday August 8, 2016 - The New Zealand Ukulele Festival is set to roll out the red carpet at Vector Arena to celebrate its 10th birthday on Saturday December 3.

The free festival day begins at 11am with a mix of performances, workshops and competitions, culminating in a concert by the Kiwileles Massed Ukulele Orchestra, with over 2500 Primary and Intermediate students representing 115 schools from Northland to Christchurch. 

Chairperson Mary Cornish says the New Zealand Ukulele Trust is proud to be celebrating 10 years of bringing music and fun to the community. 

“We want the 10th anniversary festival to be a real celebration, so when going to Vector Arena became possible, we saw the potential for a huge party.”

“We’ll literally be rolling out the red carpet for our 2500 Kiwileles, who are going to be very excited about being on the same stage that superstars like Beyonce and Ed Sheeran have performed on.” 

Schools start preparing for the festival as early as May, when the songbook and CD is released, with training workshops for teachers, who then work with their schools to learn the music.

“We believe that music is a very important part of children’s development and that’s why we’ve run the festival and our related programmes for the past decade,” Cornish said. 

“Teachers do a great job making sure their students learn the songs and are ready to show off their new skills to their families on the day of the festival.”

The 10th New Zealand Ukulele Festival is dedicated to the memory of former Patron Bill Sevesi QSM and his inspiring dream that every child in NZ would get the chance to play the ukulele.

The New Zealand Ukulele Festival
Saturday December 3
Vector Arena

For more information, interviews and images, please contact

Josie Campbell | Great Things
021 907070

Facts and Figures on the festival

  • In ten years the festival has worked with 304 individual schools, starting with 32 in 2007, and peaking at 152 in 1012. Registrations for 2016 currently sit at 115 from 28 towns and cities.
  • There have been over 1000 school engagements with the festival to date and over 1200 ukuleles donated to schools by the New Zealand Ukulele Trust. 
  • Approximately 24,000 students have been involved in the Kiwileles massed schools ukulele orchestra, and in recent years, an estimated audience of 10,000 people attend the festival annually.
  • The official songbook for 2016 features 17 songs including Kiwi pop songs by Avalanche City, SIX60 and Jordan Luck, traditional,  Maori and Pasifika songs, the Kiwi Ukulele theme song and a ukulele mash up of Beethoven tunes. 
  • The registration cost for the festival per school is $138 which covers the songbook, a rehearsal CD,  teacher workshops and rehearsals. The festival is free for participants, families and music fans who attend on the day, although gold coin donations are welcomed.
  • About The New Zealand Ukulele Trust

About the New Zealand Ukulele Trust

  • What we do: the New Zealand Ukulele Trust wants to make sure music is a part of every child's education. We support schools to teach children how to play, sing and perform with confidence.
  • The songs  we use find their way into classrooms, playgrounds, assemblies, cars, buses, camps, and homes around the country so we choose them carefully.  The songs become part of children's lives forever! We consult with experts in music education and the music industry to help us prepare the highest quality resources that are relatable and relevant to Kiwi kids.  Why the ukulele? It is portable, cheap, easy to learn, easy to teach and encourages singing!  The ukulele is great for song writing and kids love it. It is the perfect gateway instrument too. 
  • Why we do it: Making music delivers a range of tangible benefits that endure for a lifetime. Research tells us again and again. But above all, music brings us together, inspires, develops tolerance and empathy, tells our stories, expresses our  identity, feelings and humanity. Music helps grow great kids, strong communities and brings happiness that should be part of every child's day.
  • How we do it: Our activities rely on securing donations, contestable grants, hundreds of hours of volunteer time, drive, passion and goodwill from many incredible people who share our vision.

Thank you to our major supporters for 2016: Creative Communities, Auckland Council, Vector Arena and Foundation North.