Introducing the ambassadors of Te Auaha

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The inaugural Te Auaha ambassadors are drawn from a number of the areas in which Whitireia and WelTec teach. They are renowned writer Dame Fiona Kidman; creative performance director and entrepreneur Dame Suzie Moncrieff; musician and composer Barnaby Weir; digital technologist Scott Houston; makeup artist Gino Acevedo; and internationally acclaimed choreographer Malia Johnston.

Chris Gosling says "We are very excited to have these ambassadors on board supporting this important development in Wellington. The ambassadors are all incredibly well known in their field of expertise and it is an immense privilege to have them supporting Te Auaha and helping us tell the Te Auaha story to the rest of the country and the world."

Today we profile two ambassadors, Malia Johnston and Gino Acevedo.

Malia Johnston

Internationally-renowned dance choreographer Malia Johnston is proud to be a Te Auaha ambassadors.

Long involved in the multidisciplinary World of WearableArt Awards, she's looking forward to what the new campus can offer students. I'm interested in the collisions between different art forms. The new building has purpose-built spaces for different disciplines, but walls can come down and students can collaborate on joint projects. Architecture can help us to do that and it can be designed for us to collaborate.

Malia choreographed WOW for a decade and, after also working as assistant creative director, was chosen by founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff (also a Te Auaha ambassador) to take up the chief role of creative director in 2009.

In a lifetime of dance, Malia, who trained professionally during the mid-1990s, has worked with all the major dance troupes in New Zealand and collaborated with artists overseas.

She has also been involved with the performing arts programme at Whitireia and has taught dance at a number of different institutes.

malia johnston

Malia Johnston

Gino Acevedo

Special effects master Gino Acevedo leapt at the opportunity to come on board as a Te Auaha ambassador. New Zealand is one of the countries that has so much creativity. Here in Wellington it's like every other person is some sort of artist. Being able to share in art, being able to give back is what motivates me. Being around so much creativity helps me as an artist as well.

In his role as the textures supervisor and creative art director for Weta, Gino works across Weta Workshop – he began his career working with practical effects – and Weta Digital, where he applies his special effects skills in the digital realm.

Gino has worked on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, King Kong, Tintin, Avatar, the Planet of the Apes movies and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. He also produces and exhibits his own art.

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he's now been in Wellington for 20 years. He's made Wellington his home and sees a bright future for the next generation of creatives.

One of the greatest things about Te Auaha is all the artists can feed off each other. They may have an idea about something that someone else didn't; it's one of the best ways to grow and to learn. It's going to be a unique facility to have here in Wellington.

Gino Acevedo

Gino Acevedo (left)