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 is to...

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

Our Ignite Team

ray & maxine nelson


TEACHING: Keyboard

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.

has been married to Ray for 28 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.

ann speed

TEACHING:  Violin, Viola

Ann and her husband and daughter have recently moved from Northern Ireland to live in New Zealand.  For the past 27 years she has been employed as an Upper Strings Tutor by the Music Service of the Southern Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland.  This role also incluilded musical directorship of the South Ulster Youth Orchestra, and the South Ulster String Orchestra.

Alongside her teaching career she remains an active participant in semiprofessional orchestras and ensembles, both playing violin and making a contribution to directing.  She also has experience as a freelance musician performing all over Ireland.

We welcome Ann to our teaching staff here at Ignite.

bianca rose potter

TEACHING:  Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, Mini Movers, Moves N Grooves

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 and Musical Theatre.   Bianca trained at Norris Studios in South Auckland for 12 years where she competed as a soloist and in the troupes as the lead dancer. With Norris Studios she had the opportunity to travel to Australia and compete at Showcase where their troupe won the Supreme Group Award in the National Finals 2014.  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 dance classes.

leandrie young

TEACHING:  Contemporary, Senior Jazz, Ballet, Mini Movers, Musical Theatre

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. She 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.

mckenzie northcott

TEACHING:  Jazz Ballet Juniors & Musical Theatre

Mckenzie has joined the Ignite Arts Academy from 8Count Dance Studio in Pukekohe where she has danced for 14 years and has taught for the previous four years. She has sat and achieved high marks in all of her NZAMD exams right from Rosette One to Intermediate Jazz. She is starting her first year at Waikato University, studying a Management degree majoring in Accounting and Sport coaching and development. McKenzie is a highly motivated young leader with already a long list of accomplishments to her name in education, volunteer service to her community and school, leadership, sporting (netball) and more.  

With her move to Hamilton, she has the desire to continue teaching and we welcome her into the Jazz Ballet program within our dance academy.  She encourages students to express how they feel through their movement and performance, to gain confidence in an fun and welcoming environment.

simon folkard

TEACHING:  Guitar, Drum, Band

Simon Folkard has been a gigging musician since the age of 14, usually fronting bands as lead vocalist and guitarist. He has toured extensively across NZ, playing alongside top NZ acts such as Dane Rumble, Midnite Youth, and Devilskin. Simon has enjoyed multiple television appearances and regular radio airplay with the musical projects he has been involved with over the years, and has recorded several albums in some of the best studios in NZ. Simon currently plays lead guitar in “The Jason McIver Collective”, after previously playing bass guitar in the band. He also plays in a covers duo, with regular gigs around the Waikato and surrounding areas.   

He is currently completing his Bachelor of Music in Performing Arts at Wintec. Simon is a passionate and approachable tutor, who enjoys teaching and helping students increase their skills and musical knowledge.

josh woest

TEACHING:  Keyboard, Guitar, Drums

Having spent two years studying Management at the University of Waikato, Josh left to pursue his passion for music he discovered during his time there. He is currently studying his final year of his Bachelor of Commercial Music in Production at Waikato Institute of Technology where he has gained an understanding of audio engineering, production, mixing and mastering, as well as broadening his knowledge of jazz harmony and guitar.

He plays in a cover band and in a duo, playing a variety of private and corporate gigs around the North Island.

While he is at heart a guitarist, he is also a proficient bassist and dabbles in piano and drums in the studio.

 Josh is keen to share what he knows and is passionate about encouraging musical learning.

andrew carter

TEACHING:  Guitar, Drums

Andrew is a multi-talented musician specialising in guitar and drums. He is the front man, vocalist and guitarist for a heavy metal band and has toured New Zealand, Australia and China performing his original songs. He is also an experienced music producer and has a vast musical knowledge in multiple genres - he's even composed a string quartet which was performed live at the Meteor Theatre at the end of 2018.

Andrew completed a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in Commercial Music at Wintec and graduated in 2018 receiving a special award for Sound Production.

Aside from music Andrew served as a volunteer fireman for 6 years and received a medal in 2017 for good conduct and dedication to his community.

christine daverne


Christine's work experience includes working as a Drama, Singing and Musical Theatre teacher, while also lecturing and tutoring in Business Communications at Unitec Institute of Technology, in Auckland. One of her specialist subjects, and something she is very passionate about is, Public Speaking.

Christine has previously sung in professional theatre in New Zealand and Australia, and run a successful singing and drama school in Auckland. She also has experience directing, tutoring, musical directing and choreographing in community theatre. 

Her passion is drama and musical theatre, and she has been heavily involved in youth community theatre, teaching children drama, dance and singing skills. An example of one of her productions can be found on YouTube (Cats of Ponsonby). In this production, her students were all first-timers and were taught singing, and drama skills for stage.

Her students sat their Trinity College of London Musical Theatre Exams (grades 1-8 and A.T.C.L) and all achieved Distinction in these exams. Examiners even commented on their strong drama, singing and musical ability;  excellent technical skills in drama, singing and dance, and how well prepared they were. 

Christine is excited about bringing her considerable skills to Cambridge, and working with her new students at Ignite.

jonathan hawthorn

TEACHING:  Keyboard, Vocals

Jonathan is currently a student at Wintec studying the new Bachelor of Music and Performance Arts (Theatre) degree. Alongside his numerous theatre credits on Hamilton stages, he has also played as a keyboardist in show bands, conducts a women's choir, and will be the musical director for Riverlea Theatre's production of Mamma Mia later in 2020. Jonathan has training in Piano and Vocals covering many different styles ranging from classical styles to rock 'n' roll and even barbershop singing. He also has relevant guitar experience. His passion, however, is musical theatre where he dedicates his spare time both on and off the stage. 

jessica ruck nu'u


Curly haired, enthusiastic and bubbly, Jessica has always been passionate about the arts. Currently studying music at Wintec School of Media Art, she majors in performance (voice) and is constantly involved in shows and events around the Waikato. Whether it’s a theatre show, musical or concert, Jessica loves to be involved in it all! 
As a professional gigging musician, Jessica can most commonly be found behind her guitar playing at a variety of both private and corporate gigs with her duo and cover band, The Meraki. She is primarily a vocalist, trained in contemporary singing but is also proficient with a guitar and keyboard.
Jessica enjoys that Ignite provides her with many opportunities to pass on her knowledge and love for music and theatre.

joy wright

TEACHING: Costuming

Joy 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 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.

jessica judge


Jessica moved to Cambridge 9 years ago from Sydney, via Auckland (for a short stint). She studied, and has qualifications in Business Marketing, Graphic Design and Television production. She is also a self-taught photographer and works as a freelancer for the Resene Habitat magazine. 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 waterskiing 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 bookeeping 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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