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Akaroa Community Arts Council, 37 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa 7542

(+64) 021 527184

Membership : 

We rely on our membership fees to subsidise our workshops and other events.

So Please – Come and join us !

Membership Application form: 

this form enables you to join ACAC as a member, a household or as a sponsor

Membership Application Form pdf– for PDF format

Membership Application Form word – for WORD format


Board of Trustees

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

Lesley has a 35-year career in professional costume design. She trained in the UK prior to coming to NZ and has worked on hundreds of plays, operas, musicals, feature films and TV series.
Lesley 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 The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn! 

Lesley has been a proud citizen of Akaroa for the last seven years and lives at the wonderful Blythcliffe with husband John Harding, Blackberry the cat, ten chickens and two bunnies. She and John were invited to join the ACAC committee in 2015, chairing for four years and now serving as Artistic Programme Designer. They 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.

Mary Smillie Committee Member

As a 74 year old I thoroughly enjoyed acting as a 22 year old pregnant woman in the Landings play in 2019 and I look forward to be part of any other productions in the future.

Following on from always having sung in my school choir , and singing solo as Marie Antoinette in a Mozart play, I love to take part in the local 4 part A capella choir The Tectonic Tones which sings weekly and produces occasional performances.

I really enjoy being part of the committee, spending time with a great bunch pf people and helping out where I can.


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.


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
Deputy Chairman

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.

Clare Corban-Banks
Committee member

Clare is a recent arrival to Akaroa, moving into the community in January. In line with ACAC’s desire to broaden its artistic focus, Clare will help to develop our musical arm. She brings a wealth of experience gained as a professional orchestral and chamber music player. Training in Wellington in the Schola Musica, she worked as a viola player with the NZSO for three years before starting her family and moving around the country and world as half of a clergy couple. Life involved many relocations and brought many work opportunities – playing with orchestras such as the Auckland Philharmonic, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Baleares, Viva Chamber Orchestra, various quartets and most recently, the Tasmanian Camerata Obscura and as soloist with the Launceston Philharmonic. She has loved teaching along the way, both privately and in schools. Clare is delighted to be back in NZ in a place her Waikato farming family used to visit when she was a child, and has quickly become a part of the warm community that is the Banks Peninsula.

Maria Lee
Committee member

Maria graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design specialising in sculpture before training as a specialist secondary school art teacher. 

During the first lockdown, in 2020, Maria began teaching herself stone carving, she has been exhibiting hard stone sculptures since then, finding the work challenging and exhilarating.  Maria Focuses on found, non-precious rocks to show the beauty contained within the ordinary.

In early 2023 Maria took up the role of head chef at the Wainui adventure camp but home is still Port Levy.  Maria adores the Peninsula and is loving being further involved with the area and its people.