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Akaroa Community Arts Council, PO Box 46, Akaroa 7542

(+64) 021 527184

Board of Trustees

Lesley Burkes-Harding
Artistic Programme Director
Phone (+64) 021 527184

Lesley has a 30-year career in professional costume design. She trained in the UK prior to coming to NZ and has worked on hundreds of plays, operas and musicals.
Lesley has also designed costumes for many TV features and series filmed in New Zealand and has been nominated for many of her shows at The New Zealand Film and TV Awards; including Out of the Blue, directed by Robert Sarkies and Home by Christmas, directed by Gaylene Preston. She won Best Costume Design for Her Majesty, a coming of age drama set in 1953, and for Predicament, based on the Ronald Hugh Morrison Kiwi novel.
In the last few years, Lesley has regularly tutored in Costume Design at Wellington’s Toi Whakaari, was the New Zealand assistant costume designer for James Cameron’s epic Avatar, designed costuming for Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and has even designed the virtual costumes for Tintin!
Lesley has been a proud citizen of Akaroa for the last four years and lives at the wonderful Blythcliffe with husband John Harding, Blackberry the cat, five chickens and ten bunnies. She and John were invited to join the ACAC committee three years ago and are loving the opportunity to work within the creative community of Akaroa and the Peninsula.

Anne More

Anne attended a 2-year Fine Arts Course at Farnham School of Art in England after leaving school where her top subjects had been Art and History of Art taken at A Level GCSE. Her passion for horses has taken first place in life over the years, she represented England in Eventing on various horses at all levels of competition, both in the UK and Europe. With three children and grandchildren now far away, she devotes her time to renovating her garden and farm land, staying very much in touch with horses in her work as a New Zealand National List 3 Dressage Judge, keeping the brain active and working toward becoming a List 2 Judge.

She has a great love of music and opera, but sadly no musical ability! She keeps to enjoying listening, among others to Wagner at Covent Garden, London; Mozart in Sydney, and with great delight Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in Christchurch. She has travelled over the years appreciating the architecture and art of different countries from New York to Palmyra, Athens to Hong Kong and many other fabulous building and gallery locations of the world.  

Anne, and partner John Thacker, moved to Takamatua in 2015. She joined the ACAC life drawing group, and soon after that the ACAC committee, she has much enjoyed meeting a varied and friendly group of people all with a keen desire to draw. She wants to make a contribution to the community on Banks peninsula, which is much loved and enjoyed by them both, with any help she can give in providing participation and enjoyment within all of the arts.

Hollie Hollander Committee Member

Hollie Hollander has lived in Akaroa for 22 years and is married to Ad Sintenie. Together they are
developing a magical piece of land in the Grehan Valley which comprises the Woodills South walking
track and the Woodills Covenant.
Over the years Hollie has been involved in various community groups and is currently involved in The
Gaiety Trust, as well as the Akaroa Community Arts Council (ACAC).
Hollie believes that ACAC has an important role to play in the community encouraging and
promoting local arts and wants to see affordable creative workshops, events and the opportunity
for locals to be engaged in art to develop their artistic talents.


John Harding
Committee Member

Having originally trained as a specialist art teacher at Canterbury University and Teachers College John has had a versatile and varied 35-year career as a film production designer, art director, character and costume designer, as well as theatre and event designer, and design tutor and sculptor.
While living in Wellington John worked for Weta Workshop for many years on many projects including Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings”, “King Kong” and “the Hobbit’ designing and developing miniature sets, characters, costumes and weapons. He was the Costume Designer on James Cameron’s epic “Avatar”.
He has worked more locally as designer on Gaylene Preston’s TV series “Hope and Wire” in Christchurch.
John has won many theatre and film design awards including “Predicament”, and “Tangiwai, a Love Story”.
Today he is happily based in Akaroa at the beautiful historic Blythcliffe. He and his wife Lesley are loving their newly found lifestyle on the stunning Banks Peninsula.
He shares his time working on various theatrical projects around the country whilst restoring their historic house and sculpting their gardens which he loves. John wrote the script, designed the set and helped to direct the Landing extravaganza at French Fest 2017 for the Arts Council.

Hilary Graham 
Committee member

Hilary has been painting and drawing from an early age as her family have always been involved in the arts.

She graduated in 1979 at Auckland University, majoring in Art History.

While living in Edinburgh in 1984 Hilary began developing her characteristic mixed-media style of painting, once described as an ‘experimental’ style which she still practises to this day.

Hilary began exhibiting in 1984 under the name of Hilary Manson and became a member of COCA and the Otago Arts Society in 1996.

Since winning the Mainland Art Award in 1995 Hilary has won the Macalister’s and Hope Art Awards. She has been the recipient of many other Art Awards over the years and a finalist at the Norsewear and COCA Art Awards and, in 2016, the Adam Portraiture Award.   

In 2017 Hilary and her husband Richard moved to Akaroa. Through her regular attendance at ACAC Life Drawing studios Hilary became increasingly involved with ACAC and workshop tutoring.


Marie Connolly 

Marie is a professor at the University of Melbourne.
A child welfare academic, she has published extensively in her area of scholarship including eighteen books and many research articles. She formally retired from the university in 2019 but remains affiliated as a professor and continues to supervise PhD students. Upon retirement she, and her partner George returned to Aotearoa, now living permanently in their holiday home in Akaroa. An artistic late-starter, in the last year she has taken ACAC life drawing and painting classes and continues to enjoy an elusive search of talent.

Kat Luper 

Kat has been drawing, painting and writing since she was a young girl.

Kat studied painting and creative writing at Southwest Texas State University for a Bachelor of Fine Art. She dabbles in short stories and poetry, extensive diaries, and eventually got into blogging. She is the editor of, a contributor for and takes part in an international writers group. 

Kat came to Akaroa as a backpacker in 2009. She fell in love with the village and returned every summer until 2013 when she moved here permanently. She can be found most days at the Akaroa Waterfront Motel. 

Richard Graham
Committee member

Retiring from a career in business software development, Richard moved  to Akaroa in 2017 with his wife Hilary. 

As an ACAC committee member, Richard has been maintaining this website and assisting in the workshops.

Having some past acting experience in Auckland, Richard has enjoyed being involved with the “Landing” both as an actor and making props for the event.

He has developed an interest in flax weaving since attending ACAC’s Kura Raranga.