James Faraimo, Chairman
James Faraimo, Chairman

Kia Ora, Taloha Ni, Nisa Bula Vinaka, Talofa lava, Malo I lelei, Kia Orana

James describes his three year involvement with Virtuoso Strings as challenging, joyful, and rewarding.

Born in Porirua, James raised his own family in the area which resulted in having two of his children benefit from the free music programme. His son, Toloa, is now the orchestra's concertmaster. In James' own words, he feels "privileged to be involved in a Trust that provides a transformative music programme to the youth in our community".

Associate Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban QSM, DNZM joined the Virtuoso Strings board of Trustees in 2019. She brings a wealth of experience in governance and executive leadership from her many years in the highest offices of government.

In 2018 she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZ) for her services to education and the Pacific Community. Her chiefly title of Luamanuvao was bestowed from the village of Vaiala in Samoa in acknowledgement of her work.

In November 2020 Luamanuvao was awarded a lifetime achievement award for services to women.

Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Trustee
Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Trustee

Dr. Elizabeth Sneyd QSM. Founder and Program Director
Dr. Elizabeth Sneyd QSM. Founder and Program Director

Liz and husband Craig Utting established the Music Learning Centre from their home in Tawa in 2006, and soon afterwards got to know the exceptionally musically-talented Futi family. Motivated by this friendship and connection with the Porirua community, they started voluntarily teaching violin to young students in low decile schools.

In 2013 Liz and her co-worker Siang Lim co-founded the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust. 

For several years Liz and husband Craig Utting also ran a violin shop from their home. But as the charity's work grew, their interest in the business side lapsed. They recently donated all remaining stock to the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust.

In 2018 Liz was awarded the inaugural Vodafone NZ Music Teacher of the Year award which was presented by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Liz stepped down from the Board of Trustees in 2020. 

" After more than seven years on the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust Board, I am delighted to say we have reached the maturity as an organisation that allows me to step sideways. I put my full confidence and trust in an incredibly talented and committed Board to steer us in the right direction and turn our collective vision into a reality."  Liz 


Email : liz@virtuosostrings.org.nz

After living for nearly 50 years in Asia, Bob Barton retired to New Zealand in 2009. Bob sees Virtuoso Strings as an organisation that, through the discipline and delight of music, aims to build self-confidence and create new options for young people from under-privileged backgrounds, a cause which he believes can contribute to the improvement of lives as well as strengthening the social fabric.

Bobs business acumen and international relationship experience is shaping how we partner with a strategic lens.

Bob Barton, Trustee
Bob Barton, Trustee

Paul Setefano, Trustee
Paul Setefano, Trustee

Paul has worked over twenty years in IT Leadership roles for both the public and private sector. His experience in digital, innovation, strategy and risk management compliments the skills of his board peers. His sense of service and community is evidenced not only through his VSO involvement but also being active in his church, helping with an annual leukemia charity fundraiser, and collecting for Mary Potter Hospice. He is also a fifteen year veteran Firefighter with the Porirua Volunteer Fire Brigade.

"I love that Maori and Pasifika kids through their enjoyment of learning and performing classical music are changing the world"

Email : paul@virtuosostrings.org.nz