About Us

Overview

Established in 2016 by Rebecca and Quintin Brake, the Lakes Performing Arts Centre has welcomed thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life into the world of performing arts. 

Whether it’s dance, drama, music or vocal, Rebecca and her talented team have inspired their students to have the confidence to perform at the best of their abilities, regardless if it’s in the comfort of their own homes, or on stage. The centre offers a comprehensive range of affordable classes for the whole whānau to enjoy – from preschoolers to seniors.

Lakes Performing Arts Centre was established based on Rebecca’s vision to set up a space that provided performing arts opportunities for the whole community. In 2021, the centre became a charitable trust allowing it to explore new opportunities and support to do greater things within the arts for the Rotorua community.

Today, the centre and its creative people continue to create opportunities within, and for, the community through workshops and productions, in-school education, school holiday programmes and helping students gain dance scholarships, national titles and entry to prestigious dance academies. 

Lake Performing Arts Centre is owned and operated by PACT, ensuring affordable arts tuition is available for the all whānau in our community pactnz.org

Meet the team

Rebecca Brake
Director of Dance and Education

Dancing since the age of four, Rebecca’s passion for the arts was ignited at a young age. Throughout her years of teaching and training, Rebecca has competed nationally in dance competitions and taught private lessons for competing students. Rebecca is trained in Royal Academy of Dance ballet, contemporary, and jazz and is a registered JDNZ, APDA and NZAMD teacher. Rebecca’s talents also extend to drama and speech-making.

Rebecca has completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences, centering on child and adolescent psychology, and a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching. This gave her the skills to teach and inspire youth, helping students gain dance scholarships, national titles and entry into prestigious dance academies.

Helene Nicholson
Director of Arts and Events

Helene’s passion for the performing arts started at a young age. Following high school, she completed a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in the creative industries, at Auckland University of Technology. 

Moving to Rotorua in 2013, Helene held the position as manager for conference and events at one of Rotorua’s major hotels until she moved back into the performing arts industry in 2016. Since then, Helene has been an active member of Rotorua Musical Theatre, assisted with John Paul College’s production of ‘Into the Woods’ and volunteered at Rotorua’s Dancing with the Stars, helping with stage management.

Helene Nicholson
Director of Arts and Events

Helene’s passion for the performing arts started at a young age. Following high school, she completed a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in the creative industries, at Auckland University of Technology. 

Moving to Rotorua in 2013, Helene held the position as manager for conference and events at one of Rotorua’s major hotels until she moved back into the performing arts industry in 2016. Since then, Helene has been an active member of Rotorua Musical Theatre, assisted with John Paul College’s production of ‘Into the Woods’ and volunteered at Rotorua’s Dancing with the Stars, helping with stage management.

Natasha Benfell
Director of Drama

Natasha has a keen interest in the performing arts and manages to find the drama in any situation.

She has been involved in many Rotorua Musical Theatre productions over the years and having served as the president of the Theatre for almost 10 years, it has given her the valuable insight into what it means to foster the arts within the community.

Her passion is working with youth and encouraging self-confidence, storytelling and exploring imagination.

Ian Pirrie
Director of Music

Ian is an accomplished musician who has been playing guitar for more than 15 years. A graduate of EXCEL School of Performing Arts, Ian is active on the local music scene, performing many genres including rock, blues and folk.

He has a passion for creativity through music, and loves how music can give anyone, regardless of age or experience, the ability to connect with others and express themselves.

Ian teaches many popular music styles in electric, acoustic, ukulele and bass guitar, catering to his student’s taste and goals. He also mentors the LPAC bands, giving students real world experience in showcasing their talents.

Ian Pirrie
Director of Music

Ian is an accomplished musician who has been playing guitar for more than 15 years. A graduate of EXCEL School of Performing Arts, Ian is active on the local music scene, performing many genres including rock, blues and folk.

He has a passion for creativity through music, and loves how music can give anyone, regardless of age or experience, the ability to connect with others and express themselves.

Ian teaches many popular music styles in electric, acoustic, ukulele and bass guitar, catering to his student’s taste and goals. He also mentors the LPAC bands, giving students real world experience in showcasing their talents.

Kirsten Plowman
TIC Dance

Kirsten is a passionate, energetic and confident dancer, teacher and choreographer whose life-long passion is to dance. She started dancing at the age of eight and teaching at just 13 years old.

When realising that dance was her calling, she took on Sydney and studied for a Diploma in Musical Theater in 2014, which trained her in all dance genres, singing, acting and health/nutrition. Her trained genres are hip hop, jazz, contemporary, ballet and tap.

Laura Vaughan
Dance Tutor

Laura has had a passion for dance from a young age, enjoying ballet, jazz and hip hop. After Laura finished school, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Dance. 

Laura has been a part of many different shows and has also danced professionally around New Zealand, including Dancing for Hospice 2019.

Laura Vaughan
Dance Tutor

Laura has had a passion for dance from a young age, enjoying ballet, jazz and hip hop. After Laura finished school, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Dance. 

Laura has been a part of many different shows and has also danced professionally around New Zealand, including Dancing for Hospice 2019.

Gael Thompson
Keyboard / Piano Tutor ATCL, AMusTCL, AIRMT

Gael has been teaching music in Rotorua for more than 25 years. She specialises in piano, keyboard and theory to students from 7 years old right through to adults

Over the years Gael’s individual piano performance has featured on TV, She was also an accompanist for the NZ Aria Competitions Under 18 classes for several years, has accompanied singers at numerous other competitions, exams and performances and has written the original songs for two school musicals as well as scoring music for various local projects. Specialising in technique, performance and building a lifelong enjoyment of music, Gael enjoys working amongst the vibrant musical arts environment at Lakes Performing Arts Centre. 

Lee Mckenzie
Music Tutor

Lee has been playing guitar for more than 15 years. He is a confident performer, passionate writer and strong advocate for the skill of improvisation. Lee’s unique student-directed teaching style focuses on creativity and musicianship.

Completing a Diploma in Music Production and Performance in 2012, and achieving the APRA award for songwriting, the diploma taught Lee a great deal about the application of theory and harmony, and also sparked an enthusiasm for audio engineering.

Lee also plays the drums and specialises in providing beginner to intermediate drum students with the tools and skills necessary to fuel their study and journey.

Lee Mckenzie
Music Tutor

Lee has been playing guitar for more than 15 years. He is a confident performer, passionate writer and strong advocate for the skill of improvisation. Lee’s unique student-directed teaching style focuses on creativity and musicianship.

Completing a Diploma in Music Production and Performance in 2012, and achieving the APRA award for songwriting, the diploma taught Lee a great deal about the application of theory and harmony, and also sparked an enthusiasm for audio engineering.

Lee also plays the drums and specialises in providing beginner to intermediate drum students with the tools and skills necessary to fuel their study and journey.

AJ Moke
Music Tutor

AJ has been passionate about drumming for most of his life. He has been involved in many shows and musicals in Rotorua and Auckland.

He has completed a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance (majoring in drums) from the University of Auckland, where he gained new skills and ideas as a drummer and an overall musician.

He has been a member of a variety of bands with many different musical styles including rock, reggae, jazz, funk, and pop. Apart from drums, AJ can also play guitar, bass, piano and various forms of percussion instruments.

Maggie Jones
Music Tutor

Having started learning music almost as early as when she learned to walk, music is a life-long passion for Maggie.

Starting with violin, she continued gathering an arsenal of instruments such as piano, recorder, guitar, viola, cello, and what she loves to refer to as “the vocal chords”.

She pursued her love of singing to a further extent, completing a Bachelor of Music in Newcastle, Australia, and joining a world-class chamber choir with whom she had the pleasure of winning the national championship title.

Maggie Jones
Music Tutor

Having started learning music almost as early as when she learned to walk, music is a life-long passion for Maggie.

Starting with violin, she continued gathering an arsenal of instruments such as piano, recorder, guitar, viola, cello, and what she loves to refer to as “the vocal chords”.

She pursued her love of singing to a further extent, completing a Bachelor of Music in Newcastle, Australia, and joining a world-class chamber choir with whom she had the pleasure of winning the national championship title.

Raukawa Tuhura
Hip Hop Tutor

Raukawa’s passion for hip hop started when she was 12 years old. She has since studied at Pacific Institute of Performing Arts achieving a diploma with excellence.

Raukawa has competed nationally and internationally in Australia and America, and performed in theatres nationwide with Geish/Tuiga, Trans Tasmin, Music and Me, and Tautai of Digital Winds to name a few.

Now back in Rotorua after spending seven years in Auckland freelancing as a professional dancer, actress, and artist, she is ready to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of local talent and prepare them for what it takes to be a performer in the New Zealand dance industry.

Fely Aragon
Vocal Tutor

Fely is a music educator, performer, composer and a cultural researcher. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music, majoring in music education and voice, from the University of San Agustin Conservatory of Music in the Philippines.

She is a former member and a soloist of the renowned University of San Agustin Choir and Troubadours and has performed in many notable concerts including Opera Gems and Broadway musicals. Fely is an award-winning music teacher and a gifted writer, singer and producer.

Fely Aragon
Vocal Tutor

Fely is a music educator, performer, composer and a cultural researcher. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music, majoring in music education and voice, from the University of San Agustin Conservatory of Music in the Philippines.

She is a former member and a soloist of the renowned University of San Agustin Choir and Troubadours and has performed in many notable concerts including Opera Gems and Broadway musicals. Fely is an award-winning music teacher and a gifted writer, singer and producer.

Zara Matthews
Dance Tutor

Zara has been dancing since the age of seven and started competing throughout New Zealand when she was eight.

Since then she has studied and competed in jazz, hip hop, lyrical, musical theatre, contemporary and all ballet sections.

Zara was a junior associate at the New Zealand School of Dance majoring in contemporary, has won many awards and has performed in Young Performer of the Year twice. She loves to inspire dancers to find and grow their love of dance.

Zara has been dancing since the age of seven and started competing throughout New Zealand when she was eight.

Since then she has studied and competed in jazz, hip hop, lyrical, musical theatre, contemporary and all ballet sections.

Zara was a junior associate at the New Zealand School of Dance majoring in contemporary, has won many awards and has performed in Young Performer of the Year twice. She loves to inspire dancers to find and grow their love of dance.

Madeline Archer
Vocal and Piano Tutor

Maddy has been singing since primary school. Since then she has competed for many years in vocal competitions in Rotorua and Tauranga, winning the major singing award in her senior year at the Tauranga Comps. She has also performed for various local concerts, showcases and scholarship events through the IRMT and has been a guest performer at conferences, festivals and shows in and around Rotorua, including citizenship ceremonies.

She obtained Grade 8 Classical Singing during High School, then moved on to complete a BMCT with Music as a supporting subject at Waikato University in 2018. There she worked further on her classical training, as well as branching out into Musical Theatre and Oratorio performance, and digital music composition. 

In 2020, she was brought on as the Musical Director for LPAC’s Aladdin Jr, as well as the vocal coach for a local Christmas show, gaining a huge amount of experience not only as a musical director but also in other areas of show production and performance. 

She is very excited to see what her future with LPAC holds; the new experiences and ventures with her music and all the new and amazing people she has the pleasure of meeting and teaching along the way.

Madeline Archer
Vocal and Piano Tutor

Maddy has been singing since primary school. Since then she has competed for many years in vocal competitions in Rotorua and Tauranga, winning the major singing award in her senior year at the Tauranga Comps. She has also performed for various local concerts, showcases and scholarship events through the IRMT and has been a guest performer at conferences, festivals and shows in and around Rotorua, including citizenship ceremonies.

She obtained Grade 8 Classical Singing during High School, then moved on to complete a BMCT with Music as a supporting subject at Waikato University in 2018. There she worked further on her classical training, as well as branching out into Musical Theatre and Oratorio performance, and digital music composition. 

In 2020, she was brought on as the Musical Director for LPAC’s Aladdin Jr, as well as the vocal coach for a local Christmas show, gaining a huge amount of experience not only as a musical director but also in other areas of show production and performance. 

She is very excited to see what her future with LPAC holds; the new experiences and ventures with her music and all the new and amazing people she has the pleasure of meeting and teaching along the way.

Alayna Powley
Vocal Tutor
Alayna Powley grew up in Hamurana, Rotorua. She moved to Auckland to study music and during this time she began to write and record her own original music, and studied at MAINZ (Music and Audio Institute of Technology) and received a Diploma in Contemporary Music Performance and Bachelor of Musical Arts.
In 2016, Alayna moved to New York to continue to pursue her musical career. She released her first songs in 2017, with her debut song “Falling Autumn” now with over 10 million streams on Spotify alone.
Since returning home from New York Alayna has continued to develop her craft as well as gaining industry knowledge and experience.
Alayna specializes in vocal performance, vocal technique, and songwriting.
Georgia Howard 
 DANCE TUTOR

Georgia Howard 
 DANCE TUTOR

Brittany Checkley
Trainee Dance Tutor

 

Meliz Kaya
TRAINEE DANCE TUTOR

Meliz Kaya
TRAINEE DANCE TUTOR

Chloe Marshall
Trainee Drama Tutor