Trustees & Staff

Trustees & Staff

Jane Meares (Chair) with Trustees Louise Binns, Ian Webster, Sarah Cole and Ann-Louise Gower, and RNZB Executive Director Lester McGrath. Photo: Stephen A’Court

The Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation is an independent charitable trust (registration number CC47241) governed by a board of volunteer trustees, who are committed to making the Foundation’s vision a reality.

Two Trustees are representatives from the RNZB Board of Trustees, helping to create a functional relationship between the two organisations.

Trustees are supported by working volunteer Committees in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

The Foundation’s patron is Jillian Friedlander.

The Foundation also has an Ambassador – Dame Trelise Cooper.

Administration is handled by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Jane Meares – Chair

Jane is a commercial barrister, practising in Wellington. She has been the chair of the Foundation since 2011 when its purpose was restated to create a sustainable fund to support ballet in New Zealand.  She can’t lay claim to being a dancer, other than in her dreams, but is a lover of ballet in all its forms and particularly values the versatility of the RNZB.  Alongside her legal practice, she also has a number of other governance roles including as Chief Commissioner of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission and Deputy Chair of the Electoral Commission.

Lady Lilias Bell – RNZB Representative

Lilias followed her Kiwi husband to New Zealand and now lives in Wellington. She has been a regular subscriber to the RNZB over the past twenty years and is a keen Friend and supporter. She joined the Board of the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2018 and was nominated to join the Foundation as the RNZB Board Representative in 2019. In her business career Lilias was co-founder of a successful executive search business based in Wellington. She sold this in 2010 to a global organisation and subsequently retired from executive search. She now undertakes a variety of governance, philanthropy and HR consulting roles.

Louise Binns

Louise is a retired Family Court Barrister and Adjudicator, working in Auckland & Wellington. Over the years she has served as trustee on a number of Boards, including the Bethany Advisory Board, Shine (where she was Chair for 14 years), Odyssey House, Blue Dragon Trust and St Cuthbert’s Trust Board. She is a fierce fundraiser and worked on a number of fundraising initiatives for charitable organisations. Louise is a lover of ballet and a long-time supporter of the RNZB. Louise has been a Trustee of the Foundation since it adopted its new working model in 2014.

Dr Sarah Cole

Sarah is a cosmetic dentist, working in a practice with her periodontist husband Nick Cole in Auckland. She is Southern girl from a medical background and joined the Foundation Board of Trustees in March 2018.

Ann-Louise Gower

Ann-Louise lives in Wellington and has been a Trustee since 2016. She chairs the Wellington Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation committee, which has delivered several successful events, such as a cocktail reception and performance at Government House in 2018, and nurtures a great relationship with Wellington restaurant Logan Brown, which has been co-host for fundraisers and for a ballet-themed Wellington on a Plate event. Ann-Louise is a ballet lover and a passionate supporter of the RNZB . She has, for many years, worked as a volunteer and on fundraising committees for various organisations.

Melanie Morris – Treasurer

Melanie founded the New Zealand Bookkeepers Association, and has consulted with both government agencies and private industries to provide strategic leadership and advice for small business development. She runs her own small business Training and Beyond, which specialises in conversion and training specialists for Xero and bookkeeping solutions. Melanie is also a trained yoga instructor. She chairs the Christchurch Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation Committee.

Victoria Muir

Victoria Muir owns a Dunedin-based event management company, Sequel Events, and has 20 years’ experience in the industry producing events of all types and sizes. She has been a ballet lover since age 3 when she first started lessons and continued dancing right through her high school years. Victoria was excited to join the Ballet Foundation as a Trustee in 2015 and has enjoyed her role of promoting ballet in the south through a number of successful events. When she is not managing events, she is kept very busy with her three young boys.

Isaac Hikaka – RNZB Representative

A lawyer by profession, Isaac joined the Board of the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2016 after many years as a passionate supporter of the company. He became an RNZB Representative with the Ballet Foundation in 2020. Isaac lives in Auckland and is also a trustee of the Auckland Theatre Company and the Theatre Foundation. His iwi are Ngāruahine, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Isaac is a member of the RNZB Audit and Risk Committee.

Ian Webster

Ian has over 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, notably as co-director of fashion label Verge, which he set up with friend Neil Brabant. He was a foundation member and former chairman of industry body Fashion Institute of New Zealand. Ian is well known for his exceptional energy and generosity. He has been on the Ballet Foundation’s Board since 2015 and is Chair of the Auckland Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation Committee.

Auckland Committee

Ian Webster (Chair), Louise Binns, Sarah Cole, Diane Field, Colin Keel, Nuwanthie Samarakone and Simon Lambourne.

Christchurch Committee

Melanie Morris (Chair) and Ros Burdon.

Hawke’s Bay Committee

Lenise Lendrum, Nathanael Skelton, Clare Gordon.

Financial Support

Jan Dunne, Chief Financial Officer, Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Wellington Committee

Ann-Louise Gower (Chair), Lady Susan Arnold, Sarah Bartlett, Lady Lilias Bell, Anna Hinderwell, Jane Meares. Sarah Singleton and Sarah Ting.

Dunedin/Otago Committee

Victoria Muir (Chair), Claire Hazledine (Queenstown), Vickie Fulton (Wanaka).


Philanthropy Manager, Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Contact The Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation

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RNZB dancers perform in Hansel and Gretel, 2019. Photo: Celia Walmsley