Meet the Group

In no particular order except for ‘the boss’ Rachel we introduce members of the Wanaka Ukulele group. For general information about the group and examples of songs we play check out our About Us page

Rachel Pearson-Irvin
Rachel Peason-Irvin started running ukulele workshops in Wanaka in 2009 whilst working as a teacher with the NZ Modern School of Music. It was a core number of the workshop participants that have progressed to form the Wanaka Ukuleles Incorporated Society we have today. British born Rachel emigrated to nz in 2000 and she and her American husband T.J spent a few years living on the Wild West coast before settling at Lake Hawea. They have 2 little KEAS (Kiwi English Americans), Theo and Will. They love being part of such an incredible community and feel blessed to live here. Rachel continues to teach privately and enjoys the musical journey she is on with the Wanaka Ukuleles.
Liz Maluschnig
Liz Maluschnig is a Counsellor and Wedding Celebrant and very enthusiastic Ukulele player! She has been member of the Wanaka Ukuleles for 4 years and loves the camaraderie of playing with friends. Liz lives on a solar powered eco lifestyle property with her husband and has a son and a daughter who have now left home.
Baz South
I have always wanted to play a musical instrument . As a teenager and young adult I tried both the guitar and keyboard but with little success ! (Maybe other distractions). Anyway I attended the very first meeting of this current ukelele group and have been with it ever since. This little instrument has taken me on a great musical journey from learning to play new songs and techniques as well as playing for the many community groups that have requested our presence. I get a real buzz out of playing with this great group of musical friends and look forward each week to our meetings.
John Lightfoot
Have always loved music, so in 2005, I decided I would like to learn to play a musical instrument – so I chose the keyboard. It has been a wonderful journey – my only regret is that I should have started it years ago. I have also been trying to learn to play the Ukulele with the group now for a couple of years and in that time, I  have had loads of fun performing with the group at various community events. Following such events, we have always talked about having a bass player. So in February 2015, I bought a bass guitar/package and started my next musical journey – learning to play bass guitar, alongside this wonderful group of Ukulele players.
Di Lightfoot
I have always enjoyed doing art & craft projects and love music & singing. I decided I would like to learn to play the Ukulele, so I joined the Wanaka Ukulele group in 2013.  It’s been loads of fun and a great way to learn to play such a fun instrument, which is so portable and ideal for jamming with the Grand Kids.
Liz Ritchie
The fun you can have with a ‘jumping flea’ on a Thursday night!  I saw the band perform a while back and thought that’s for me, bought a uke and now probably need to buy another to plug in!

We have a lot of laughs, the group is growing and we are enjoying building repertoire and developing harmonies. The other bonus of course is that a ukulele fits neatly into the overhead locker so never an excuse not to practice!
Jo Haines
Mastering a musical instrument is on my bucket list – so here I am. I love singing as well so Wanaka Ukuleles is a perfect outlet for me. Playing in a group and performing is a fantastic experience, we have a lot of fun together. Rachel is continually introducing a lot of variety into our repertoire…Have been seen biking in Peru with a ukulele on my carrier!
Gemma Wilson
I’ve enjoyed learning a number of musical instruments over the years to get me out of maths class… now I work with preschoolers and the ukulele is perfect for spontaneous daily jamming. I joined Wanaka Ukuleles in 2015 with the aim of perfecting my bar chords and starting more end-of-year Secret Santas. It’s been amazing learning new songs in such a fun group, and performing to audiences! Doing concerts is one of my favourite things in life, along with going on adventures, having Birthdays and starting new projects.

Kit South
My first introduction to the ukulele was at primary school where we learnt to play songs such as “Island in the Sun”  and “Yellow Bird”.   Many years later I am back “plinking and plonking” on a uke, enjoying learning to sing and play with a great bunch of friends.
Maegan Young
I was first inspired by a tutor in teachers college to take up the ukulele to play with young children. Several years later the opportunity came to join this wonderful group and I have loved the challenge, the fun and the variety of songs and events we experience together. Maegan is presently overseas till late 2020.
Barbara Jungen
I have always enjoyed singing and when I heard the Wanaka Ukulele group perform at a garage sale in Hawea Flat, I decided to learn to play the Ukulele.  A few months later I joined the group and since then I have spent many fun filled evenings among this great bunch of people.Playing the Ukulele and singing fills me with joy and it is a pleasure to pass on this “joie de vivre” when we perform in public. 
Donnelle Dunlop

I started to learn the ukelele in 2010 to play to my preschool children and have some fun. I have been a member of the Wanaka Ukeleles since then and really enjoy the challenge of learning an instrument and singing in a group. It is so much fun to play together and get lost in music during our practices and performances.

Adair Simpkin

Having learnt the piano when I was younger, and more recently sung in a choir, I was inspired to learn the Ukulele when I heard the Wanaka Ukulele group perform in the community back in 2016. I love the challenge of learning new songs, finding different harmonies to weave through – creating our own unique take on popular and classic music. Attending our weekly practises is a highlight of my week and when we perform for different community groups, it is an absolute joy to see people in the audience join in and sing along with us. I also enjoy playing the odd percussion instrument as well, and have been playing the melodica just to keep things interesting!

Joy Miller

I learnt the piano as a child and now appreciate having a basic knowledge of music. As a young adult I learnt to play a bit of guitar and have played occasionally ever since, for my ears only.  I was part of a Ukulele group in Geraldine and on moving to Wanaka decided to join the Wanaka Ukuleles. This is a great group of supportive people and we enjoy our time together practising and learning new songs. I enjoy the challenge of playing the uke more proficiently and being part of a diverse group of people.

Thierry Huet

Never played music or any instrument until last year 2018 and here I am, part of a wonderful and friendly group of people. Uke is fun to play, takes lots of practice which is a hard thing to do when you spend most of your life in the outdoors but it is very rewarding to take on a new challenge and learning music in such great company.

Lincoln BruceAfter many years of regret of giving up my piano lessons as a 13 year old, the lure of the ukulele as a simple, fun and inexpensive instrument took hold. Borrowing my 6 year old daughter’s ukulele I joined Wanaka ukuleles ten years ago. The ukulele is such a great instrument to play around with to teach yourself unlikely tunes like AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ never really getting it right but at least vaguely sounding a bit like it. It is also very satisfying being in a group that practises more appropriate songs all the way through to a pretty good performance level. Always on a learning curve, the uke is just plain fun.
Vicki Hill
Martin Howell
After playing guitar for 20 years I love the sound that the ukulele creates. I joined the group as I thought it would be a lot more fun to learn the Ukulele in a group rather than learn alone. I was right! Being part of the group is such fun and challenging as we are always open to trying new songs and putting our own style of ukulele sound on them.