Ray & Maxine Nelson, together with their three children, Brianna, Joshua and Jacob, left Kansas City, USA in 2011 to begin their new chapter in Cambridge, New Zealand.

Ray successfully managed his own studio in Kansas City for 13 years working with several Performing Arts Centers in Kansas. Maxine, his wife and native Cambridgite, is an accomplished musician and vocalist. She is also co-director of the popular Holiday Workshops and works alongside her husband at Ignite.

Our vision for Ignite Arts Academy is..

To positively impact our community through the vehicle of the arts one person, one family at a time.
To give students of all ages the opportunity to develop their artistic and creative abilities through the creative arts.
To give teachers the opportunity and place to develop their skill and passion in the arts.

our team

ray nelson


TEACHING: Keyboard 

Ray Nelson...Ray is a passionate entrepreneur with 27 years in music education.  An accomplished musician himself, he has owned and operated several successful music studios over the yeras in large performing arts academies overseas, and brings with him a desire to see an arts hub model established locally that can also be used to expand out to other parts of NZ and beyond.  Ray also teaches keyboard classes using the very successful "Simply Music" method which is the largest playing based method in the world.

maxine nelson


Maxine has been married to Ray for 27 years and they've worked on and in many ventures together as a team most of those years.  She considers raising three outstanding young people, Brianna, Joshua and Jacob a huge accomplishment.  She is responsible for recruiting the Ignite instructors and co-directs Ignite Arts Academy with her husband, spearheads and develops the concepts behind the Ignite programs and the very popular performing arts school holiday workshops.  She is passionate about excellence in the arts and is an accomplished musician and vocalist.

anita roberts

TEACHING: Keyboard

Anita has been playing the piano for over 12 years. She has studied at Vision College, completing a Diploma of Performance Music, majoring in piano. Both a pianist and a harpist, Anita has a passion for music and for teaching, believing that music can be an empowering gift for anyone to have.

Anita is currently based in Hamilton and has been with Ignite since 2014. She has been involved with community ukulele classes, performs with friends when possible and loves to head out busking over summer.

lawrence harris

TEACHING:  Crew, Hip Hop

Lawrence has a huge passion for hip hop  and has been dancing since his college years.  Over the years he has danced with several Dance Companies, most recently with the Federation Dance Academy in Hamilton.  He danced, tutored, choreographed and competed there for 3 years, tutoring for regional and national competitions.  In 2014 their academy competed in the ‘Battlegrounds’ National Australian Dance Competition.
Lawrence has also successfully tutored College groups for Stage Challenge competitions.
Lawrence says:   “It doesn’t feel like dance to me, rather it feels like complete emersion, freedom, fun, enjoyment, being creative, fitness and social time – everything in one.”

bianca rose potter

TEACHING:  Hip Hop, Crew

Bianca has been dancing since the age of 4. She has trained in various styles ranging from Ballet and Jazz to Tap and Hip hop.   In 2012 Bianca competed in a NZAMD scholarship where she won the Hip Hop section. Her first crew was called Insseption which was based in South Auckland and that’s where she gained her first insights into competing at SDNZ regionals. Bianca moved over to Sydney for a year in 2016 where she was a part of Zealous Dance crew. After moving back to New Zealand in 2017 she is now based in Hamilton and trains and dances with Imprint dance crew.  She has taught Conditioning and Jazz in Auckland, and Hip hop in Australia where she helped with the competition routines.  Bianca engages well with her dance students and brings a wealth of dance experience to her hip hop classes.

lizzy burn

TEACHING: Jazz Ballet, Musical Theatre , Mini Movers & Adult Contemporary

Lizzy has been dancing for 17 years (NZAMD registered teacher). At the age of 22 it is easy to see dance is her passion and love. She has been dancing and training for 15 years at a Hamilton studio and has performed in numerous shows in Hamilton and Cambridge in lead roles. She also performs annually at her dance studios' yearly show as an advanced dancer. Performing Arts has been a large part of her life, the last five years she has also been developing her singing and acting abilities . 

She has completed her teacher training at the Waikato University in Hamilton and is currently teaching the jazz ballet, contemporary and musical theatre classes with Ignite Arts Academy as well as her postgraduate studies in teaching. She loves sharing her knowledge of dance and believes that dance is an excellent way for expression and a real boost to confidence which she strives to share.

leandrie young

TEACHING:  Contemporary Dance - Junior & Senior

From a young age Leandrie has trained in Ballet, completing her exams with distinction. She has also completed the Urban syllabus with full distinction and received an additional award for presentation and performance. Leandrie has trained in the BBO, TDI, NZAMD and RAD syllabus. Throughout her schooling days Leandrie also trained in tap, contemporary and character dancing. After a few years competing in Ballet and Jazz,  Leandrie moved to Hamilton and started to pursue Ballroom and Latin dancing. She won her first National Title in 2012 (Youth Ballroom) and since then has won 6 more. In Leandrie’s final year of high school she started working as a dance teacher, teaching hip hop and tap. She was also very involved in her school’s productions and was dance prefect in her final year at school. Leandrie has choreographed and danced for several fundraising events, the most recent being for Breast cancer and the Cambridge Autumn festival.

Leandrie is in her 4th year of Medical school and is placed in Waikato hospital this year. She is still competing in Ballroom and is very excited to be teaching contemporary this year.

jeremy badger


Jeremy Badger ...It would actually be easier to list what Jeremy hasn't done throughout his drumming career. Being a member of his concert band, jazz band, and a number of rock band arrangements during high school, Jeremy is an example of someone who has taken his opportunities and run with them. This philosophy is something he encourages of his students as he lives by example, continuing to add to the list of his experiences. These include playing in a covers band most weekends throughout the North Island, drumming for originals band "The Latest Fallout", playing drums in several musicals including My Fair Lady and Footloose, and even playing for the odd jazz band when the opportunity presents itself.

After obtaining his Bachelor of Music (BMus) from Vision College, Jeremy has gone on to work up an equally impressive drum tutoring career as he has taught people of all skill levels and ages. Combining a healthy level of expectation with his relaxed and patient disposition, Jeremy always aims to help his students realize their potential whether that be playing along to their favorite song or working up a piece ready for an exam.

andrew gould

TEACHING: Guitar, Band

Andrew has been playing music since childhood. Growing up in a musical family he learned keys, guitar, bass and singing at a young age. Recently he graduated from Vision College, Hamilton with a Bachelor of Music (BMus) majoring in guitar (acoustic - grade 8 and electric - grade 8). In his spare time he writes and records songs in his home studio.He is one of our most recent additions to the Ignite crew joining us in May 2016. Andrew is lead guitarist in Faded Farewell, a Hamilton based band which has recently recorded an EP. He performs regularly in other bands and often performs in a duo with his wife Naomi.

Andrew is a kind, passionate, patient teacher. He finds that teaching is a great way of developing people and that music is a powerful tool for learning and growing as an individual throughout all stages of life. He believes in teaching students what they want to learn whether that is reading stave notation, tab, learning a particular song, basic and complex chords and learning to play different styles.

april haines

TEACHING:  Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keys, Ukulele

April Haines has completed her degree in music at Vision College, and she is a session guitarist for a hip hop/rap artist called ‘Unchained XL’. Previously she has played in metal bands such as ‘East of Eden’, ‘Lead Us Forth’ and ‘Patriot’. She has recently started another metal project and plans on recording an album.

April grew up in a non-musical family but picked up the guitar at the age of fourteen. She loves having the ability to share her passion for music with others and inspiring students to become talented musicians. She finds it rewarding seeing students grow in knowledge, confidence and skills and loves to encourage and inspire students to do their best as well as creating a fun, memorable class experience. 

alex lodge


Alex Lodge is a performer, writer and teacher. Her plays have been produced across Aotearoa and Australia, including a 2013 Wellington season of Our Parents’ Children and a 2016 season of Sing to Me in Sydney. 

Her short film script, Rich, was chosen to be directed by Gaylene Preston as part of a collaborative project between the International Institute of Modern Letters and the NZ Film School in 2011.
As a co-founder of full.stop.theatre she has co-written and performed in several acclaimed works which have been featured as part of Silo Theatre’s Working Titles season (2017) and has been programmed by Circa Theatre for September 2018.  Alex will also be performing in this season, playing Katherine Mansfield.
She has worked as a professional performer for over ten years and recently toured with Equal Voices Arts in their bilingual collection of stories about deaf culture in Aotearoa NZ, At the End of My Hands.
Alex was one of the first recipients of the 2016 Horoeka Reading Grant, founded by Eleanor Catton.
Two of her plays were shortlisted for the prestigious Adam Play Award in 2017.

Alex completed a Masters in Scriptwriting at Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters in 2011.   This study also included work experience storylining for Shortland Street.
She is currently completing her creative practice PhD on trilingual playwriting (New Zealand Sign Language, Te Reo Māori and English) at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato. She has taught theatre and storytelling in high schools, universities and Shakespeare festivals for the past eight years. She is represented by Playmarket.

Alex has run workshops in the Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festivals with teenagers on performing language, and co-led community workshops for all ages on physical storytelling for Deaf and hearing performers. Her 2014 play, Our Parents' Children, was performed as part of the Young & Hungry initiative which provides opportunities for young actors to perform original theatre works. She is part of the NZ Book Council's 'Writers in Schools' programme and teaches scriptwriting basics to children between ages 7 - 15 as part of this programme. 
As a mum to one and an aunty to nine tamariki, Alex is passionate about empowering today's youth to tell their stories and to hone their imaginations through play. 

micaela collecutt

TEACHING: Vocal, Vocal Ensemble

Micaela is a graduate from Vision College with a Bachelor of Music (BMus) majoring in vocals. At Vision College Micaela was equipped with many skills that have armed her with the ability to teach and lead many different kinds of people from all walks of life. 

Micaela cannot remember a time in her life where she did not sing. Whether it was singing along with her mother in the car or performing in front of large crowds for Christmas celebrations. Micaela has always been involved in group singing, and was in a group at her high school that won the school talent quest every year from Year 7 to Year 13. She has also worked with choirs, directing her school choir in Year 12 and Year 13. 

Micaela is kind, but expectant that her students will be dedicated to their instrument. She loves to build the confidence of her students so that they can realise their full potential and begin to strive for it. Micaela believes that music is an important way for people to express themselves and loves to be able to show people how to further that expression.

joy wright

TEACHING: Costume Creation Workshop

Joy Wright is a popular Costuming Instructor at the Ignite Holiday Workshops. She brings a wealth of experience to the Costume Creation Workshop having studied, worked and taught within the arts community since 2001. She is currently the Wardrobe Manager, Costumer Designer and Co-ordinator for the Hamilton Operatic Society as well as Arts Co-ordinator for Hamilton Girls' High School. Her positive approach to life in general as well as thriving on challenges have given her much success in many areas she has chosen to undertake.

tami lee ward

TEACHING:  Music Rhapsody

Tami Lee Ward comes with over 30 years of music teaching experience in a variety of capacities and environments.  Tami Lee has a Bachelor of Music Education graduate from Ohio State University as well as a graduate of the University of Waikato with a  Graduate Diploma in primary teaching and PostGrad in Music Education. She has been the HOD of Performing Arts at Cambridge Middle School for seven years and previously held the same position at Matamata Intermediate for four years.  This work includes leading concert bands, choir, marimba groups, rock and pop bands and teaching the general music classes.

She has extensive experience working with ages from 0 - 70 in Auckland and now in the Waikato, Tami Lee has developed numerous general music classes for pre-school and primary aged children in the greater Auckland area as well as teaching piano, violin and cello privately.  She is a long time member of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers.  

A firm believer in music education for the development of the whole child, Tami Lee is excited to be a part of Ignite's community work teaching and guiding the youngest of our children.  As a relatively new grandmother it is exciting to be a crucial part of her grandchildren's music education.

chris young

TEACHING: Music Rhapsody

Chris has many years’ experience teaching music to children in England, Zimbabwe and in New Zealand.
She currently teaches the violin, ukulele, piano, recorder and voice both in local schools and privately. She particularly enjoys arranging music to suit children’s ensembles of mixed instruments and experience. Chris has recently completed Level 2 of ORFF Schulwerk and is looking forward to adding this approach to her teaching.

Chris has sung her whole life and is passionate about encouraging children to find their voice. She currently sings with Hamilton Civic Choir and has appeared on stage with both Hamilton Operatic Society and the Riverlea Theatre, as well as singing the National Anthems (in many languages!) on ANZAC and Armistice Day in Cambridge every year. 

She regularly volunteers with Music Moves Me Trust, singing and sharing musical memories with dementia sufferers, a very special privilege.  In her spare time, she can be found walking her dog on the beach, gardening and, more recently, trying out tap dancing.

jessica judge


Jessica moved to Cambridge 7 years ago from Sydney, via Auckland (for a short stint). She studied, and has qualifications in Business Marketing, Graphic Design and Television production. Yes, that is a few strings to the bow! She is also a self-taught photographer and works as a freelancer for the Resene Habitat magazine, and for local businesses taking corporate photos, and has even dabbled a bit in food photography. Phew! Passionate about helping small businesses get ahead, Jessica’s work revolves around ensuring her clients have a marketing and design presence that guarantees they stand out from their competitors. Jessica’s clients range from Food Retail, Real Estate, Performing Arts to Health, Plumbers, Interior Design and Engineering firms. 

 In her free time, she enjoys the summer months, out boating and waterskiiing with family, and during winter, hunkering down with a great book in front of the fire.

For more info on Jessica, and how she could help with your business, email her on jessica@cojuconsulting.com  

linda kingston


Linda doesn’t dance, can’t play a musical instrument but does enjoy a good sing a long in the car. What she lacks in these areas is made up for in her bookeeeping skills.
Linda joins our team with many years experience with a large ballet school in Sydney and many years working in a number of Industries in New Zealand.
She is a wife and proud mum two sons, and an active member of the Cambridge Baskeball community 


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