Rebecca Brake: Managing Director

Rebecca has always had a passion for the Arts and her dream has been to set up a company that provides performing arts opportunities for the community.

Dancing since the age of 4, Rebecca became an assistant teacher for a local dance company. Throughout her years of training, she also competed nationally in dance competitions and this led to teaching private lessons to students who also competed around New Zealand.


Rebecca is trained in RAD Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz dance and is a registered JDNZ, APDA and NZAMD teacher. 

Always successful with Drama and Speech Making, Rebecca won the Rotary Speech Competition and came second in the New Zealand National Lions Speech Competition. Rebecca was also a recipient of the Geyser Community Foundation Speech New Zealand Scholarship.

She completed a Bachelor of Social Science in Auckland focusing on Child and Adolescent Psychology, and then a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching at Waikato University. This gave her the skills to utilise what she has learnt to teach and inspire youth.


For over 10 years, Rebecca has worked in Secondary schools teaching Drama and Dance. During this time she has helped students gain Dance Scholarships, National Titles and entry to prestigious Dance Academy's.

Rebecca has performed in many productions singing, dancing and acting, and has choreographed shows such as Rotorua Musical Theatre's ‘Fang’ and ‘High School Musical’. She has also had the privilege of choreographing the Military Tattoo hosted in Rotorua.

Rebecca is always looking for new ways to enhance performing arts in our beautiful city. 

Helene Nicholson: Studio Manager

Helene’s passion for the performing arts started at a young age. After high school she completed a Bachelor of Communication Studies majoring in the Creative Industries at Auckland University  of Technology. Moving down to Rotorua in 2013 she has been manager in charge of conference and events for one of Rotorua’s major 4 Star hotels. Helene has been an active member of Rotorua musical theatre since 2016 and has also assisted in John Paul College’s production of Into the Woods. She has also volunteered at Rotorua’s Dancing with the Stars helping with stage management. She is excited to see the creativity and passion of LPAC students grow. 

Phoebe  Owen:  Dance Tutor

For the last 16 years Dance has been Phoebe’s passion. She has completed senior level dance exams in AJDA Jazz, RAD Ballet, APDA and NZAMD Contemporary, as well as taking recreational classes in Hip Hop and Tap. In teaching she is looking forward to sharing her experience with the next generation of dancers, and helping them achieve new levels of personal excellence.


Phoebe’s second home is on the stage, having performed in many dance shows growing up. She has been a part of performances at Rugby Games, for the Mayoral Concert and was a part of Christmas in the Park 2017. In November 2017 she decided to branch out, auditioning and successfully becoming a part of the cast of Rotorua Musical Theatre's production of Mary Poppins in the role of Neleus.

Gael  Thompson

Keyboard/Piano Tutor

Gael has been teaching music in Rotorua for more than 20 years.   As a private music teacher, she teaches piano, keyboard and theory to students from 7-9 years old through to adults.  Gael is a Registered Music teacher with IRMTNZ, which entitles her students to participate in the music concerts and activities that the Rotorua branch hold throughout the year. Every year, Gael’s students have been successful in passing their music exams in a range of grades through the Trinity College of London and ANZCA.   

She looks forward to working with Lakes Performing Arts Centre and teaching the enjoyment of music

Lee McKenzie

Music Tutor

Lee McKenzie has been playing guitar for over 15 years. He is a confident performer, passionate writer & strong advocate for the skill of improvisation. An often student directed approach with an emphasis on creativity & musicianship is the unique teaching angle which Lee prides himself on.


He completed a Diploma in Music Production & Performance in 2012 with straight A grades, also achieving the APRA award for songwriting.

His Diploma taught him a great deal about the application of theory/harmony, & also sparked an enthusiasm for audio engineering which has since seen him recording & self producing his own material. With a mobile recording rig available he has produced material for other musicians as well.


Lee also enjoys a self taught practicing & playing regime on the drums. He has developed a catalogue of patterns & drills which are drawn from to provide effective, fun & varied drums tuition. Lee specialises in providing beginner - intermediate drum students with the tools & skills necessary to fuel their study & journey.


Born in England but raised in NZ he spent 12 years living in Papamoa & has been enjoying living in Rotorua since October 2016. Outside of musical interests Lee studies martial arts, in particular Tai Chi & also loves to spend time outdoors soaking up what nature has to offer.

AJ Moke

Music Tutor

AJ has been passionate about drumming for most of his life and is excited to become a tutor for the Lakes Performing Arts Company. He has been playing drums for nearly 10 years now. Starting at the age of 12, he has been involved in many shows and musicals in Rotorua such as ‘Miss Saigon’, ‘Chicago’, ‘Mama Mia’ and ‘Hair’, as well as some shows in Auckland including ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Sunset Boulevard’.

He has been a part of a variety of bands with many different musical styles such as Rock, Reggae, Jazz, Funk, Pop, he was a drummer for the worship team at ‘Living Well Church’ here in Rotorua and he is currently playing for the band STAVE. He has also been a drum tutor at Rotorua Intermediate and Kawaha Point Primary. Apart from drums, AJ can also play guitar, bass, piano and various forms of percussion instruments.

AJ has recently completed a Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Performance (majoring in drums) from The University of Auckland. His time in Auckland has taught him many skills and new ideas as a drummer and an overall musician.

AJ is really looking forward to the future where he can pass on his knowledge and passion of music and drumming.

Ian Pirrie

Guitar  Tutor

Ian is an accomplished musician who has been playing guitar for over 15 years. A graduate of Excel School of Performing Arts, Ian is regularly 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. He is keen to share that passion. 


Ian is available to teach many popular music styles in electric, acoustic, ukulele and bass guitar, catering to his student's taste and goals, and looks forward to helping others gain the lifetime joy of becoming skilled and proficient musicians.  He also mentors the LPAC bands, giving students real world experience in showcasing their talents.

Kirsten Plowman

Dance Tutor 

Kirsten Plowman is a passionate, energetic confident dancer, teacher and choreographer whose life long passion is to dance.

She started classes at the age of 8 and teaching at 13 years old.  Her trained genres are Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet and Tap.

When realizing 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.

She joined an agency and worked the duration of 2015 in Sydney.

She has danced and sung in musicals, performed at corporate/established events and taught Dance for 11 years.


She was born to dance and inspire and wants to share her experiences and wisdom with all generations and levels to inspire others to let go, try new things and follow their dream whatever it may be. 

Tianii-Jade Simmons

Dance Tutor

Tianii has been dancing since the age of 9 and has been developing her skills immensely over the years. Throughout high school she has taught years 9 and 10 students her own style of dance and participated in many hip hop crews which lead her to winning 3 National titles since the age of 15.

Tianii has a passion for dance and ever since joining LPAC she has gained an insane amount of confidence and integrity to help develop the skills of our amazing LPAC students. 


She believes that working with younger students has increased her maturity and taught her that believing in yourself will lead you to where you want to be. She looks forward to watching her students grow and develop their confidence in the performing arts industry. 

Maggie Jones

Music Tutor 

Maggie Jones has just jumped the ditch from Australia. Having started learning music almost as early as when she learned to walk, it is a passion that has not left her in her 22 years of life.

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 than anything else, completing a Bachelor of Music in Newcastle, Australia, and joining a world class Chamber choir with whom she had the pleasure of winning the title of National Champions.


Besides music, one of her other passions is to sew – a love that she also cultivated from a young age. She finds it thrilling to create garments from start to finish, and is constantly looking for ways to improve her skill and explore more elements of it. 


Now she looks forward to this new chapter of life, and how each one of you is going to make a mark on it!  

Natasha Benfell

Drama Tutor

Proud to call Rotorua her home, Natasha has spent her life here raising her family and helping to grow her husband’s business.

She has a keen interest in the performing arts and manages to find the drama in any situation. She has been involved in many different Musical Theatre Productions over the years. Shrek Jr, Madagascar Jr, Buddy Holly Story, Mary Poppins, Avenue Q, Mystery on the Orient Express and the up coming show Lion King Jr to name a few.


Having served as the President for the Rotorua Musical Theatre for 8 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.  She has performed on stage in a number of shows for Rotorua Musical Theatre, including Back to the 80s, Bad Girls, Stepping Out, Fang, The Buddy Holly Story and now finds joy in Directing and production management. She is looking forward to collaborating with Rebecca and Lakes Performing Art Centre to ensure that the performing arts not only survives but thrives.

Laura Vaughan

Dance Tutor

Laura has always had a huge passion for dance from a very young age. Laura has done Ballet, Jazz and Hiphop. After Laura finished school she went on to complete a Bachelor of Dance . Laura has also worked as a early childhood teacher for the last five years. 

Laura has been apart of many different shows and has also danced professional around New Zealand, the latest show she was apart of was Dancing for Hospice 2019 raising money for Rotorua Community Hospice. 

This year Laura is looking forward to sharing her experience with the younger generation of dancers, and helping them achieve their very best. 

Raukawa Tuhura

Hip Hop Tutor

Raukawa’s passion for Hip Hop started when she was 12. She has since studied at Pacific Institute of Performing Arts and in 2013 graduated with Diploma with Excellence. She has competed in Street Dance NZ for over 4 years as a Choreographer/dancer for "VOGUE" dance crew (Nationals 1st Place Champions of 2011) and "Rotorua owned" Varsity Crew " UNIT-Y" (Competed at National level).

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

Now back in Rotorua after spending 7 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 the outside world and NZ Dance Industry.

Fely Aragon

Music Tutor

Fely is a Music scholar who graduated  Bachelor of Music , Major in Music Education and Voice at the University of San Agustin Conservatory of Music,  Philippines.

She is a former member and a soloist of the renowned University of San Agustin Choir and USA Troubadours. Fely is a Music Educator, performer, composer and a cultural-researcher. She has performed “Opera Gems” and Broadway Musical like; Fiddler on the Roof, The Cats, Les Miserables, etc. joined EVITA in 2016  and having  the role of the BIRDWOMAN in  Mary Poppins 2017 by the Rotorua Musical Theatre .


She had left a legacy in Philippine Music being the former Representative of the National Commission for Culture and Arts- Executive Committee in Music. A writer of an inspirational book of poetry called “ Whispers of the Heart, A Poem Journal. Singer- Producer of two CD albums “ Songs of Love”, a compilation of Filipino arias and folksongs.


She is a choir trainer and conductress of SPED- ISEC Choir, National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA) winner in the Philippines. A multi-awarded Music Teacher of METROBANK FOUNDATION MOST OUTSTANDING TEACHER  OF THE PHILIPPINES 2013.  

Courtnee Martin

Hip Hop - Megacrew

Courtnee Martin has been dancing since the age of 6.  She loves hip hop dance, in particular working with dance crews. Cournee has been fortunate enough to win national titles as a crew member at Western Heights High School.  She pushes to become a better dancer every day, and hopes that she can teach others to be just as passionate and grow into fantastic performers.

Sheila Marie Lendio – Manlunas.

Dance Contractor

A professional Ballet Dancer, who was highly trained in Vaganova Method, by the world renowned Ballet Manila Company. Sheila became Apprentice with the company, then Company Member by 2006.  In 2008, she rose to become a Demi-Soloist. In 2013, Sheila became a Principal dancer of The Queen City Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. Sheila officially retired as a ballet dancer in 2015

Chris Noel Manlunas

Dance Contractor

Upon graduation with International Ballet Academy in New Zealand, in 2005, Chris was offered a contract to join the first National Tour of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. After the contract, Chris came back to the Philippines for Ballet Manila’s job offer, starting out as an apprentice in November 2006, and was re-trained in Vaganova Method. He rose to become Company Member by 2008. In 2009, Chris danced again for the Royal New Zealand Ballet with a Demi-soloist role. In 2013, Chris became a Principal dancer of The Queen City Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. Chris officially retired as a ballet dancer in 2015.

Lynnelle Temm

Ballroom Tutor

Lynnelle grew up in a dancing family.  Her Mum and Dad were both Dancesport Teachers so it is no exaggeration to say that she has been involved in dance all her life. 

Starting competitive dance at age 4, a NZ Juvenile (under 13) Champions in Ballroom, Latin American, New Vogue and Old Time for several years.  Later completing with her big brother with whom she attained several NZ Championship titles and selection to represent NZ in overseas competitions.

In her early 20s she started teaching in her Mum, Laurel’s studio in Auckland.  Taking a break upon relocating to Rotorua due to family commitments.   Lynnelle began teaching again in 2003 taking classes across the Bay of Plenty and competing in the Professional division occasionally.

As qualified coach and adjudicator Lynnelle knows her stuff when it comes to Dancesport and is delighted to be able to be part of the Lakes Performing Arts Company Whanau.

Simone Walker

Drama Tutor 

Simone Walker is a teacher, actor, and co-founder of creative arts company Big Picture Minor Deets. Through Big Picture Minor Deets, Simone produces PLAY ON (a monthly play reading series of New Zealand work here in Rotorua) and short films and webseries. A graduate of The Actors’ Program, Simone has appeared in television commercials, local TV drama and theatre. She also works as a voiceover artist.

Simone is excited to engage with school children through the arts, helping them to develop confidence and fire up their creativity.

Zara Matthews

Dance Tutor

Zara has been dancing since the age of seven and started competing throughout New Zealand at the age of 8.

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. She has won many awards and has performed in Young Performer of the Year twice with Ballet and Jazz.

Zara loves to inspire dancers to find and grow their love of dance.

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© 2016 Lakes Performing Arts Company.  A Lakes Total Management Limited company

1215 Hinemoa Street, ROTORUA