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New Chair Appointed to Orchestra Wellington Board

Orchestra Wellington’s incoming chairperson Ray Ahipene-Mercer is the first Maori to chair an orchestra in this country.

Ahipene-Mercer was elected last night at the orchestra’s board meeting. He succeeds Francis Cooke who resigned last month on his appointment as a High Court judge.

Ahipene-Mercer, of Ngāi Tara and Ngāti Ira descent, is a former Wellington City Councillor and well-known community figure, guitarist and musical instrument maker. He served as a Wellington City Councillor for the Eastern Ward for 16 years.

“I’m looking forward to this exciting opportunity to work within an excellent governance structure in support of a fabulous band of musicians,” Ahipene-Mercer said.

“I’m particularly looking at how we can extend the already extensive outreach throughout the region.”

Ahipene-Mercer will draw on many years of work as the Arts Portfolio Leader of the Wellington City Council. During that time he helped source funds for the City Gallery upgrade and established the Toi Poneke Art Space for emerging Wellington artists.

He is on the board of the Wellington Sculpture Trust. He’s also worked with Wellington Museums Trust and the City Gallery.

Ahipene-Mercer builds and repairs instruments from his studio on Wellington’s South Coast and is a regular concertgoer in the city. As well as an advocate for the arts, he is a strong voice for the environment. He was one of the leaders of the Clean Water Campaign, which led to the end of sewage pollution of the Wellington coast.

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