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10 Questions With Mana Waiariki

Updated: Apr 4

We are thrilled to welcome a brand-new person into our office! Introducing Mana Waiariki (Te-Whānau-ā-Apanui), our new Events Assistant.

Mana joins us for the next six months as part of the Māori Arts Internship programme run by Toi Māori Aotearoa. The programme aims to develop future Māori arts managers, professionals and producers, to support the Māori arts infrastructure, and establish pathways for emerging Māori who wish to embark on a career in the arts.

Read on to get to know Mana and find out what she'll be working on.

1.      Welcome to the NZSQ, Mana! Can you tell us a little bit about your role and what you’ll be working on with us?

Kia Ora! I am employed by Toi Māori Aotearoa through their Māori Arts Internship (MAI Program) and the host organisation I applied for was for the NZSQ! I will be the Events Assistant and one of the main projects I will be working on is organising The Racket Lounge, which is a series of concerts created for university students and freelance musicians to give them an opportunity for an all-inclusive performing arts space and a platform for collaborations among musicians, composers, writers, and actors. This internship is only till August which is really sad because I have really enjoyed my first two weeks here, but it’s great to try out different roles in the Arts sector, particularly the music scene.

2.      What inspired you to apply for this role?

I auditioned for a school overseas to continue my postgraduate studies, but I was unfortunately declined. But that’s okay! Because that night, I saw the NZSQ Instagram post advertising that they were still looking for an intern for the MAI program and I applied because why not! Even though it is not a violin performance position, I knew that if I were to get it, I will benefit hugely from this internship.

3.      You’re also an incredible musician! When did you first pick up a violin and what inspired you to start playing?

Thank you! I started through the Suzuki method in Auckland with Simon Griffiths and Stacey Shuck when I was 7 years old, and I stayed with them until I started studying with Helene Pohl at university. I’ve always wanted to play violin because there was a Japanese Anime show I used to watch as a kid and one of the main characters played violin (she was very bad). And so, I’ve been wanting to learn ever since I was 3 years old, and after over half my life of begging, my parents finally put me in lessons.

4.      Do you have a favourite piece/ style/ genre of music to play?

Well, I love playing Classical violin! Chamber Music is my favourite form, but I also love playing in Orchestras and the occasional Solo concert. I have attended the NZSQ’s Adam Summer School for the past three years and I have loved every piece I was given, all String Quartets by Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, and Ravel. But particularly in the last couple of years, I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with Jazz musicians and Big Bands and so I wouldn’t say I ~play~ jazz but I am definitely there and really enjoying myself!

5.      What do you love most about working in the arts?

The passion and drive of the musicians and organisations. I am also a teacher at Arohanui Strings, and I LOVE working there. All the kids there just love playing their instruments and are inspired by their peers, so it makes them work harder (whether they realise it or not). These kids inspire ME to become a better musician and I will keep advocating for kids like them to have great life, with or without music. I have been lucky enough to play in many music groups around New Zealand and from there I meet so many new people, who all love music! It is so fulfilling and reassuring to meet people who are all at different points in their musical career and to remind ourselves that our collective mission is to share our passion for the arts!

6.      What is one accomplishment in your career so far, big or small, that you’re really proud of?

This internship! It’s straying away from the performance aspect a little bit, but I think working behind the scenes is just as important as being on stage. I am a freelance musician so it’s fascinating to learn the ways of how an organisation gets their musicians from the idea in the very beginning to the concert and the end. Also playing in a masterclass for Hilary Hahn when she came to NZ, that was pretty epic.

7.      What is something you’re looking forward to or hope to accomplish through your new role and working in the NZSQ office?

The first concert of The Racket Lounge and hopefully it’s a success!

8.      Have you read any good books or seen any good shows lately?

I’m not a huge book reader but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Tayor Jenkins Reid is the best book I’ve read in a very long time. My friend described it as “it’s like reading gossip!” and that’s what sold me. I also like binge watching Bridgerton quite a lot and my favourite movie of last year was the Barbie movie.

9.      What do you get up to when you’re not working?

Practicing haha! I also try and make an effort to go to gigs on weekends, a definite night out if my friends are playing (happens often). I also really like cooking and baking!

10.  Where do you hope to be in your career 10 years from now?

I’d really like to live overseas, somewhere in Europe, and I’d love to be a touring chamber musician, but also being in an orchestra that tours would be super cool too. I would also love to continue teaching; I tend to resonate more with older students so teaching at a university would be cool if I wasn’t touring so much.  Arts management is also on my radar as a career aspiration, but I would really love to continue playing the violin professionally for as long as physically possible.


Mana is a recent graduate of the New Zealand School of Music Te Kōkī and an Adam Summer School alumn. She is now a freelance musician and is working with our team in the office to plan and produce a number of exciting events. Mana has played in major art festivals and orchestras across Aotearoa such as the Fringe Festival, Cuba Dupa, Classical on Cuba, Orchestra Wellington, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Hawke’s Bay Orchestra, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In 2023, Mana was chosen to collaborate with Wellington based composer, Michael Norris, to play on a fixed electric backing track for his piece ‘Waipounamu’ which was commissioned by the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. Mana has also received masterclasses from Hilary Hahn, Sergey Malov, Benjamin Baker, Wilma Smith, and Vesa-Matti Leppänen. When she's not in the NZSQ office, Mana is a violin teacher at Arohanui Strings, a Sistema- inspired music programme that provides free music lessons to children.

Keep your eyes peeled to see what Mana gets up to over the course of her internship!

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