Search by area of study

Girls Rock Aotearoa music programme launches in Kirikiriroa

The first-ever To The Front Kirikiriroa holiday programme is coming to Hamilton in the school holidays of July 2024. Born from Girls Rock Camp Aotearoa in 2017 the gender-inclusive music development programme encourages young women, trans, intersex, takatāpui and gender diverse youth to embrace their creativity in a safe space.

Guided by experienced music industry professionals, the newest edition of To The Front is the fourth location in New Zealand to host the programme, following Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Pōneke Wellington and Te Papaioea Palmerston North.

Running from 15 – 19 July 2024 and hosted at Wintec Te Pūkenga School of Media Arts, Music and Performing Arts Department, the Kirikiriroa programme is headed by local musician and audio engineer Lora Thompson. Actively involved in the industry as performer and Audio Engineer, Lora has over 20 years of experience and says she is motivated by the wish “that something like this was available when I was young and starting out.”

“The music industry is still saturated and lead by a lot of men, which is really difficult to navigate as a younger artist who doesn’t fit into that scene,” says Lora, who is now working full time in an academic role as Head of Audio at the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) in Auckland.

She says it’s especially difficult when you’re not living in one of the main cities where the industries are mainly located. “After starting out in Hamilton, I’m lucky to have had a fair chunk of industry experience in Auckland and Melbourne before coming back home to Hamilton.” she says.

 “I hope something like this in Hamilton inspires a whole new generation of industry leaders in Kirikiriroa and the greater Waikato. There’s just so much talent here.”

Melbourne was where Lora first got involved with a similar ‘Girls Rock’ initiative in 2016. Derived from an evolved underground slogan, ‘Girls to the front’ was a popularised movement from the late 80s punk scene in the United States – which was most recently revived in the movie ‘Moxie’.

Leading this initial local adaptation, Lora has recruited other industry colleagues to the committee, such as Senior Academic staff member at Wintec, Megan Rogerson-Berry, Lauren Kerr-Bell from Hamilton Live Music Trust, Sara Marandi from Hamtown Smakdown, Ruth Power from TeamSquad / Piano Picnic, and previous fellow band member and video maker, Kat Waswo.

Nearly every organiser is a Wintec School of Media Arts alumna, and hail from local high schools themselves – Raglan Area School, Hamilton Girls High, Fairfield, Hillcrest, Fraser, Te Awamutu and Cambridge. Lora believes this dynamic group of mentors can attract some exciting new talent to join the To The Front Kirikiriroa programme from Hamilton and surrounding townships across the Waikato.

The non-for-profit Co-Founder and Programme Director of Girls Rock Aotearoa, Nicole Gaffney, from band Carb on Carb, is “super excited” for the much anticipated To The Front Kirikiriroa music programme.

“Expanding our engagement to Hamilton furthers our mission to create an equitable music community in Aotearoa, full of empowered and thriving youth and adults of all genders,” they said. “It’s open to youth ages 12 to 17, so we’re hoping to spark the next ‘gen’ of musicians in Kirikiriroa.”

The holiday programme includes daily instrument practice, where the attendees form ‘bands’ together for the week with the aim to perform a live showcase on the final day. They’ll participate in group workshops such as stage craft, recording audio, music videos, DIY merchandise, zine making and more – while being treated to lunch time performances by exciting artists from the New Zealand music industry.

Kicking off the programme launch, the local team is hosting a fundraiser show on Friday 16 February at Last Place Bar, with performing headliners Hagseed (Auckland), Half/Time (Hamilton), Guilt Grip (Auckland) and Halcyon Birds (Hamilton).

Accompanying this fundraising event is a raffle including a plethora of prizes from local and national sponsors – including Ableton, Firehorse FX, Music Planet, Synthstrom Audible, Last Place Bar, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, local record stores and more. Raffles will be available to enter via Facebook and will be open until winners are drawn in late March.

The To The Front Kirikiriroa committee is calling for all expressions of interest for programme mentors, volunteers, donors and sponsors across the Waikato region and beyond. Enrolments for the holiday programme will be set to open next month.

Donations are now open for To The Front Kirikiriroa. For more information or to get in touch with the team, please visit

Donate to the TTFK Givealittle page here

Facebook event page:

For more media information or comment please contact
Lora Thompson
022 051 3907
[email protected]