The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee manages the governance of the Academy.
Mrs Beckie Rout (Patron)
Jackie McBride(President)
Barbara Tait ( Vice President & North Island Representative)
June Wright (North Island Representative) & (Piping and Dancing Representative)
Jeanie Borsboom (South Island Representative)
Lewis Gibson (South Island Representative)
Robyn Simmons  QSM(Technical Director)
Avalon Moffatt (Piping and Dancing Representative)
Raewyn Weggery (Secretary/Treasurer)

Jackie McBride - President

Born into a household where Highland Dancing was a major part of family life I was always destined to dance. I vividly remember attending my first lesson with Helen Jones-Sexton, and now looking back I would never have thought the journey I would take that would lead to me having the opportunity and privilege of becoming the President of our Academy.  As a senior learning from past Technical Member Mrs Janice Wood, Helen as my first teacher and along with my mother Enid Weir, I was fortunate to have instilled in me a love of dance, was taught the Academy history and the importance of where our technique has come from.
My involvement with the Otago Centre spans many years – being on the Otago Centre Piping and Dancing Assn Executive having held positions of Competition Secretary and Treasurer and I was honoured to be made a Life Member in 2013.  I have been President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Ghillie Callum Club at various times, also being the examination organiser for our area.
Having a background in banking, both personal and commercial banking, as well as administration roles, I have a full understanding of business operation and financial management requirements.  My current role as an Administration Manager enables me to fully utilise these skills.  I believe in constant improvement and adding value in all roles I undertake in both professional and personal capacities.
Elected on Executive Council in 2006 as a South Island Representative I have enjoyed contributing to the growth of our Academy with a team of very loyal and hard-working members.
I am extremely honoured to follow in the footsteps of so many dedicated and loyal people who have served the Academy in this role and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the growth of our Academy. 

June Wright
North Island Representative  Representative from the Piping & Dancing Association of New Zealand

Born and raised in Napier, dance and music was introduced into my world at the age of 6.
I completed my Advanced diploma with Honours in all Grades.
As well as Highland Dancing, I was fortunate to learn, compete and do examinations in Tap Dancing, Modern Dance, Piano, Singing and Speech.
I began playing the piano for dancing exams and summer school while still in Napier and have been playing for the exams in Auckland ever since moving to here to attend University. I also play for the exams in Gisborne.

I run a dance school in South Auckland. It is important for me to instill in my pupils the same traditions and passion for the art that was instilled in me.
Currently I am President of the Auckland Centre of the Piping and Dancing Assn. of NZ, Vice President of the Auckland National Dancing Teachers and Judges Assn. and President for the Papakura City Highland and National Dancing Assn.

At present I am the National Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager for Farmers Trading Ltd.

I consider it a great privilege to serve on the Executive Committee. This gives me the opportunity to draw from a combination of the knowledge I have obtained from my involvement in dancing, together with my business management skills, and work with an exceptional team of people to ensure that the Academy’s goals are met in an efficient and effective manner.

Barbara Tait
North Island Representative 

Mrs Tait commenced dancing at the age of five years after being seduced by the beauty of the tartan socks at the local A and P Show. She passed all Academy examinations under the tuition of Mrs Jeanie Paton and after a successful competitive career which included winning numerous New Zealand, Island and Centre Championship titles under the guidance of Mrs Jeanie Paton and Mrs Emma Brown, she became an Executive Council member of the New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Association. This position she has continued to hold until the present day.

Mrs Tait is also a teacher and judge of Highland and National Dancing. She is an active member of the Piping and Dancing Association of New Zealand and currently holds the position of President of the Taranaki Centre of the Piping and Dancing Association. A secondary School teacher, Mrs Tait has three children, two of whom are Highland Dancers and all three of whom are involved with the local Pipe Band.

Jeanie Borsboom
South Island Representative

 I was privileged to have been named after Jeanie Paton who was my mother’s dancing teacher. My mother, Cushla Piesse, is a solo seal recipient and examiner. I began dancing at age 4 and learned from Joan Osborne throughout my dancing career. I began teaching early on and completed my diploma with honours in 1993.

I graduated from University in 2000 with degrees in history and law and briefly practiced law before travelling overseas. I am now a Regional Manager in the Labour Inspectorate which involves working to ensure employers comply with all minimum standards of employment.

In 2002, I lived in Scotland and danced at several Highland Games. The experience was extremely valuable to me and I felt very proud dancing our Academy technique in Scotland, particularly the jigs and hornpipes.

I currently judge and I teach at Scottish Society classes. I am the vice president of the Christchurch Balmoral Club. I am also active in the Piping and Dancing Association.

I believe the future strength of our Academy will depend on our ability to convert more of our graduates into teachers, judges and administrators.

Lewis Gisbon
South Island Representative

I was introduced to Highland Dancing at age 7, initially learning from Tiffany and Barbra Brown while growing up in Waimate. I feel immensely privileged to have had Julie Hawke as a teacher since age 11, and Julie has since become an incredible mentor and friend.
Throughout my dancing career I competed extensively throughout New Zealand, including being named the 2017 and 2018 Champion of Champions 18 & Over at the New Zealand Highland and National Dancing Championships.
The absolute pinnacle of my dancing was passing the prestigious Solo Seal examination in 2018, becoming the 23rd person to do so in New Zealand’s history.
I am proud to be a founding member of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand. As part of the Dance Company or other Academy groups I have performed at various tattoos and festivals in China, USA, France, Germany and Scotland. I feel that these groups can showcase Highland Dancing to other communities and I look forward to seeing how the Company can contribute to the future of the Academy.
I am delighted to serve on the Executive Council and I thoroughly relish the opportunity to serve an organisation that has given so much to me, while remembering the unique history of our art form. I also am the Treasurer of the Christchurch Balmoral Club and a committee member of the Piping and Dancing Association of New Zealand, Canterbury-West Coast Centre.
Outside of my dancing life, I work as a Solicitor in Christchurch, specialising in residential and commercial property, trust law and asset protection matters.

Robyn Simmons QSM

Highland dancing has been a part of my family for several generations so it was a natural progression for me to start learning from an early age.  I learnt from Betty Campbell who was a pupil of one of the early dancing masters in New Zealand, Donald Guild.  My mother also learnt from Betty who also taught ballet and instilled a love of all forms of dance in her pupils with opportunities to perform in recitals and productions.
I competed mostly in the South Island and completed by Academy Diploma in 1975 with Honours in all grades.  At this time Betty was terminally ill so I sat all four step dancing examinations at one session and then put my energies into teaching.
I was appointed to the Technical Committee in 1988 when Mrs Emma Brown was Director and subsequently worked under the leadership of Sherilyn Hall. I have been privileged to learn and be inspired by these ladies and the many other knowledgeable and passionate Technical Committee members who have been a part of our Technical team.
On the retirement of Sherilyn Hall in 2023 I was appointed Technical Director.  I look forward to continuing the work of my predecessors in progressing our Academy whilst preserving and respecting our traditional heritage.
I also enjoy my role as Associate Director of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand working alongside Mrs Julie Hawke with our talented and dedicated Company dancers, showcasing their talents both nationally and internationally.

Avalon Moffatt
Representative from the Piping and Dancing Association of New Zealand

 Mrs Moffatt commenced ballet at the age of 4 and Highland and National dancing at age 6. She was taught Highland dancing by her mother Mrs E McLeod, in Hamilton, until the age of 16, when she moved to Wellington. On arriving in Wellington she learnt from Mrs E Wooller and completed her final exam under her guidance. Avalon attained Honours in all grades and she competed very successfully throughout New Zealand winning many North Island, South Island and New Zealand championships.

Avalon thoroughly enjoys adjudicating and has adjudicated at many competitions including a number of New Zealand Championship meetings. Although not teaching at present former pupils were very successful in both examinations and competitions.

Avalon is currently Vice President  & Life Member of the Piping and Dancing Association of NZ, and  Vice President and Life Member of the Wellington Centre of the Piping and Dancing.
Avalon has a great love of dance and wishes to serve all dancers in New Zealand for the betterment of Highland and National dancing and retain the heritage that has been handed down through the years in New Zealand.

Raewyn Weggery
Secretary, Treasurer and Examination Secretary

Mrs Weggery began to learn Highland Dancing at the age of six with Mrs Andrea Quinn after being encouraged to ‘give dancing a try’. Her love of dancing grew and at the age of twelve she began learning from Mrs Sherilyn Hall.

Mrs Weggery successfully competed at all levels all over New Zealand, in Daylesford Australia and in Scotland including several years in the eighteen years and over New Zealand Championships. During this time her love for the Scottish music, dance and culture grew.

Mrs Weggery is a qualified teacher and adjudicator and enjoys passing on her love of highland dancing to her pupils and watching them succeed.

Mrs Weggery holds a Bachelor of Business Studies degree and is the Academy Secretary and Treasurer.

Mrs Weggery is currently the Secretary/Treasurer and Life member of the Wellington Centre of the Piping & Dancing and President of the Manawatu Highland & National Dancing Teachers & Judges Association.


The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
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