Overview of Foundation

In 2004, Dame Kiri decided to establish the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation to offer mentoring, financial support and career assistance to young New Zealand singers with exceptional potential, as a way of underwriting their efforts to win international success. From the outset it was conceived as her way of giving back to an industry that had given her so much.

The Foundation was launched at a gala concert at the Aotea Centre, featuring Dame Kiri supported by her good friends Dame Malvina Major, Simon O’Neill and Helen Medlyn. It was a memorable occasion.

Since its inception, the Foundation has made more than 190 grants of various sizes to 26 exceptionally talented New Zealand singers, including Ana James, Kristen Daragh, Claire Egan, Phillip Rhodes, Joanna Foote, Kawiti Waitford, Jonathan Abernethy, Darren Pene Pati, Alexander Wilson, Bianca Andrew, James Ioelu, Anthony Robin Schneider, Kieran Rayner, Julien van Mellaerts, Thomas Atkins, Oliver Sewell, Edward Laurenson, Kathryn McIndoe, Eliza Boom, Madison Nonoa, Filipe Manu, Samson Setu, Harry Grigg, Manase Latu and Natasha Wilson.

Dame Kiri says, “I’m proud that we’ve made a measurable contribution to the development of these hugely talented young singers – whether it’s providing practical help with vocal technique, knowledge of vocal management, handling the media and agents, good health habits, the business side of managing a career, stagecraft and, not least, managing stress!”

The Foundation’s support continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of students. Early in the recent Covid Pandemic the Foundation became aware that 18 NZ singers who had been previously supported by the Foundation, were experiencing extreme financial circumstances. The Foundations responded by establishing a joint committee charged with addressing the growing crisis. Their solution was to recommend a series of ‘Helping Hand’ grants that were paid monthly for the remainder of the year – these grants totalled $177,000. The Foundation continues to plan ways to offer further grants as the Covid situation continues to throw new challenges at the talented singers.

In addition to grants to individuals, the Foundation is a significant sponsor of the Lexus Song Quest and was, for a time, a major supporter of the NZ Opera and NZ Singing Schools. The Foundation was also a sponsor of Wellington Opera’s inaugural season of Don Giovanni and offers an annual scholarship in collaboration with the Victoria League Trust.

For Dame Kiri, the Foundation has become a ruling passion – hard but immensely rewarding work. “It’s a pleasure to be involved with singers who have exceptional potential and who work hard to achieve their dreams. It’s an honour and a privilege to nurture and support them.”

Support for the Foundation’s work comes from a variety of sources including organisations like Rolex, ASB, Morrison Kent and local trusts and individuals.

Money is always in short supply, so we do everything possible to ensure that the many grants and gifts handed out to our singers every year by a range of generous organisations and individuals are spent carefully and wisely.

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK) is an associate Foundation established in the United Kingdom in 2004 by Dame Kiri. This foundation is a separate organisation and has no legal connection to the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation based in New Zealand. It is an approved charitable trust registered with the Charities Commission in the UK (Registered No 1092813).