Latest news

Karohirohi with Opus Orchestra

This winter I’m looking forward to 3 performances of Karohirohi, with Ingrid Bauer, solo harp, and Opus Orchestra conducted by Peter Walls.

  • Hamilton at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts Concert Chamber on Friday 26 July at 7.30pm
  • Tauranga at the Baycourt Theatre on Saturday 17 July at 3pm, and
  • Rotorua at the Sir Howard Morrison Centre on Sunday 28 July 28 at 2pm.


Book tickets for the concerts

Opus Karohirohi logo

Congratulations to the NZSQ

The New Zealand String Quartet has been named best classical artist at the 2024 Aotearoa Music Awards for their Atoll CD Notes from a Journey II. It features 6 works by fellow New Zealand composers including my Poroporoaki.

Notes from a Journey II — CD


Cover of CD

Woven pathways with the NZSQ

Bookings have just opened for the New Zealand String Quartet’s national tour called Woven Pathways. I’m delighted that they have included 2 of my works. They’ll play:

  • Poroporoaki in Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch and Wellington, and
  • Hine-pū-te-hue in Rotorua and Hamilton with Horomona Horo.

Woven pathways — NZSQ



Players in the New Zealand String Quartet Credit: NZSQ

Violin concerto premier

On 10 June my new violin concerto Tai timu tai pari, completed during the Covid lockdown in April 2020, was premiered by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by James Feddeck with concertmaster, Andrew Beer as soloist. Working with Andrew on the development of the work was a joy. He was very open to me making it hard!

Tai timu, tai pari

Andrew Beer violinist

New chamber works for 2023

2023 is off to a busy start. I’ve just finished a work for the New Zealand Chamber Soloists and I’m delighted to now be writing a piece for solo percussion for Justin DeHart who teaches percussion at the University of Canterbury. I am one of several Aotearoa composers from whom he has commissioned works.

Justin DeHart

New Zealand Chamber Soloists

Justin DeHart

2022 Aotearoa music awards

Some of my favourite musicians released albums that were finalists in this year’s music awards.

2022 Aotearoa Music Awards winners announced — APRA AMCOS

Hearty congratulations to Robert Ashworth and Sarah Watkins who won the award for their CD Moonstone which includes my difficult 1976 work of the same name.

Moonstone — CD

The other finalists were NZTrio, and Bridget Douglas and Al Fraser whose CD Silver stone wood bone includes Hineraukatauri.

Silver stone wood bone — CD

Robert Ashworth (viola) and Sarah Watkins (piano) Photo: Lydia Sewell

On the move

In April 2022 I moved from Ruakaka just south of Whāngarei in the far north to the far south of New Zealand. I’m now living in Portobello on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin.

One of the other projects that has happened alongside this big move is my new website. I would very much like to thank Scilla Askew, and Walter von Bullmoos of Vital Colour for their amazing and diligent work in re-designing and updating this website.

Vital Colour

My favourite pohutukawa in Ruakaka

2021 Te Waka Toi Awards

The Te Waka Toi Awards celebrate and recognise the artistic excellence, achievement and contribution of Māori artists practising in customary and contemporary arts.

14 Māori artists recognised in prestigious awards

In April 2022, I was honoured to receive the 2021 Sir Kingi Ihaka Award which is given to kaumātua or kuia in recognition of their contribution to strengthening the continuity of Māori culture through their support of ngā Toi Māori.

Because of Covid the awards were held online and I recorded a video which was shown during the ceremony.

Acceptance speech — talk

Gillian in 2022

Lyell Cresswell 1944-2022

My close friend and fellow composer, Lyell Cresswell, died after a short illness on 19 March 2022. We first met in 1973 and have stayed in touch across the years and the globe throughout nearly 50 years since. He will be greatly missed both for his musical genius, and his loyal and entertaining friendship.

Lyell Cresswell

Our mutual friend Elizabeth Kerr, who has known Lyell since their university days, has written a lovely tribute.

Lyell Cresswell: a personal tribute

Before he died he completed his autobiography. He has asked me, together with a couple of other friends, to see it through to publication. It is now with the printer and will be launched in September 2024.

Lyell Cresswell 2006
Gillian Whitehead Composer