The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Technical Committee

The Technical Committee are appointed for the purpose of fostering correct and recognised techniques in Highland and National Dancing. Members of the committee prepare and conduct examinations, and provide ongoing training for Academy members. The many skills and talents within this hard working Committee over the years have seen them successfully complete projects as diverse as the preparation of new examination syllabuses, research the lesser known dances of Scotland through to the preparation of an instruction video for teachers and young dancers.

Robyn Simmons QSM (Technical Director)
Pamela Fleming
Julie Hawke NZMN
Jacqueline Jones
Lynette Mitchell
Kimberly Mavor
Jacqueline Seque
Elizabeth Smith
Adele Swanson

Robyn Simmons QSM (Technical Director
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.
Pamela Fleming
Pamela Fleming  commenced her dancing career in the Bay of Plenty, with Ballet at the age of 5 years.  Her ballet teacher was involved in a serious car accident and not able to teach, so when Mrs Cathie Boult a Highland and National Dancing teacher shifted to live next door, she was encouraged to take up this form of dance at age 9 years.  She compelted her training with Mrs Gilliam Telford of Hamilton.  Music and Dance has been an important part of her life, as she learn't piano form 8 years old and continued with ballet at a later stage.  She competed successfully in Highland throughout New Zealand and in 1975 received her Advanced Diploma with Honours in all grades.  After many years of dedication and hard work she was proud to achieve Solo Seal at New Plymouth in 1976 aged 18 years.

She commenced teaching dance in Whakatane over 35 years ago, and continues to pass on her knowledge and love of dancing, teaching at a studio on Auckland's North Shore.

Being involved in Highland and National Dancing has, and continues to be a passion.  She gains real pleasure through contributing in many ways and has served as a President, Secretary and Treasurer on the Auckland Teachers & Judges Association.  She is actively involved on the Auckland Centre of the Piping & Dancing Assn of NZ. She valued the opportunity to be a demonstrator for the NZ Academy at their Annual conferences between 1976 and 1985, and enjoys her role on Technical Committee. 


Jacqueline Jones
Jacqueline Jones has always had a love of dance and music, commencing dancing at the age of four years.

Jacqueline learnt under the tutelage of her mother Joan Osborne, and had a successful dancing career throughout New Zealand.

In 1983 Jacqueline received her Diploma from the N.Z.A.H.N.D, enabling her to become a teacher and adjudicator, however Jacqueline had been teaching several years prior to this, giving her over 40 years experience.

In 2000 Jacqueline was appointed onto the Technical Committee, and since then has enjoyed examining, presenting workshops and tutoring at Summer Schools throughout New Zealand.

Jacqueline has a strong passion for dance and aims to cotinually foster the art of Highland and National Dancing.  Furthermore Jacqueline both understands and is committed to, exploring the benefits of what dance can do for stimulating the overall development of the child.

Jacqueline operates a full time dance dance school in Christchurch, New Zealand, which encompasses both Highalnd and Jazz Dancing.  Outside of dancing Jacqueline enjoys spending time with husband Nic and son Jonty.

:Lynette Mitchell
Highland Dancing has been my passion and a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I began learning at the age of 5 from Mrs Daisy Horrell and attended lessons twice a week until she passed away when I was 21.
As Technical Director Mrs Horrell not only gave us all an outstanding grounding in technique but also instilled a love for performing outside of competitions with opportunities to dance in musicals, touring shows and for visiting celebrities.  Daisy was a wonderful tutor and mentor and I have always aimed to emulate her teaching style in my own dancing school.
I absolutely loved to dance on stage and competed successfully throughout the South, gaining my Diploma in 1976. 
My teaching career started as a 16-year-old and has led to over 45 years’ experience meeting some wonderful people along the way.  I am very proud of the success of my pupils both competitively and of their achievements across the grades, and in the Solo Seal examination.
I have tutored at summer schools and workshops throughout New Zealand and adjudicated at many of our major competitions.
Currently I am the President of the Ghillie Callum Club, joint Secretary of Otago Centre and President of the Mosgiel Piping & Dancing Society; I am also employed as an Executive Assistant at the University of Otago.
I am very proud of my family’s long association with Highland Dancing.  My mother was a highland dancer, my daughter Michelle is a qualified Academy member, currently teaching and judging, and my granddaughter Lara has started her own highland dancing journey.

Elizabeth Smith
Being the only daughter of bagpiping parents (Graham and Margaret Rusbatch) Elizabeth Smith was always destined to be involved in 'things Scottish'.

Elizabeth began dancing, aged 5, in Rangiora and completed her NZAHND (Inc)  Diploma and Medal Tests in Christchurch under the tutelage of Mrs Joan Osborne while also pursuing other interests of Competitive Irish Dancing and Tenor Drumming.

Her teaching career began while still at High School in Rangiora and she continues teaching from home in Christchurch today. Elizabeth is actively involved with the Canterbury Caledonian Society Dance Classes and Christchurch Balmoral Teachers and Judges Club.  She was honoured to be appointed to the Technical Committee in 2005.  

Elizabeth believes that Dancing has taught her more than just how to dance and is grateful for the opportunity to give something back to young dancers and the New Zealand Academy.  She values the support, good friends and wonderful opportunities Highland Dancing has given her.


Adele Swanson
Adele began dancing in Gisborne at the age of 6 learning Ballet, Highland and Tap all to an accomplished level but chose to pursue the Art of Highland and National Dancing and in doing so achieved her Advanced Diploma with Honours in all Grades.

Adele was a pupil of Mrs Colleen Parker who gained her knowledge and expertise from the very well known Scottish Dance Master McLennan.  Under the guidance of Mrs Parker Adele gained the best training and education on the history and technique of Highland Dancing as promoted by the NZ Academy of Highland and National Dancing and learnt the importance of preserving the history and fundamentals or our technique as we move forward in the modern world.

While living in Wellington in her mid twenties Adele took lessons from another respected teacher, the late Mrs Adeline Hobbs and continued to compete till the age of 29. 
Adele's teaching career spans 43 years with 21 of those years in Napier and is an experienced Examiner and Adjudicator and has officiated at a host of prestigious competitions and Highland Games all over New Zealand.

In 1988 Adele was appointed to the Technical Committee of the NZ Academy of Highland and National Dancing which extends her passion for dance, music and standardising and fostering the varying techniques of the art.  Conducting examinations, assisting teachers through seminars and Dance Development Courses and tutoring dancers of all ages at Summer Schools and regional workshops has been a privilege and extremely rewarding.

During her time on the Technical Committee Adele has been involved in a number of new projects - "Getting Started in Dance" and "Lets Dance" syllabuses have been a highlight and putting the junior Highland grades and Irish and Sailors Hornpipe Step Dancing syllabuses of Video/DVD another.  In 2006 Adele was fortunate to represent the NZ Academy at the International Highland Dance Conference in Las Vegas.

Adele has now returned home to Gisborne after 28 years away and currently with her husband Gary own and manage the Beachcomber Motel and enjoy welcoming guests from all around the world.  She runs her own Caladh Brae Dance studio in Gisborne and is President of the Poverty Bay and East Coast Piping and Dancing Centre.


Julie Hawke NZMN
I have been extremely passionate about Highland Dancing since commencing at a young age with Miss Muriel Waugh, and completing my senior exams with Mrs Joan Osborne.

I competed extensively gaining Provincial, South Island and New Zealand Championship titles, gaining my diploma in 1980. I have been teaching for over 30 years and I am currently teaching full time to 80 pupils from pre school to senior level , at studios in Ashburton and Christchurch. I find teaching very rewarding and I enjoy the challenge of helping pupils to reach their full potential, and many have now gained their diplomas and competed successfully at the highest level.

I am the president of the Ashburton Highland and National Dancing Association, Vice President of the Canterbury West Coast Centre, and a member of the Christchurch Teachers and Judges Balmoral Club.

I have adjudicated at all levels of New Zealand Championship Competitions , prestigious Highland Games Gatherings at Waipu and Hastings, and tutored at workshops and summerschools throughout the country.

I have a special interest in choreography, and I feel very proud to have been appointed Director of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand. It is certainly a privilege to work with senior dancers from throughout New Zealand in this exciting new dance company, showcasing their talents both nationally and internationally.
I have recently been appointed to the Technical Committee, which has been a personal goal to attain, and I very much look forward to representing the Academy in this new role.

I am married to Richard, who with our three sons, Jamie, Harry and Angus all successfully play the bagpipes. I enjoy supporting them in their solo and pipe band careers throughout New Zealand and Scotland.

Kimberley Mavor
My passion for Highland and National Dancing started at age 4 under the guidance of Ellenor Sangster and in my final years Barbara Brown.

I was fortunate enough to compete successfully through out the country for over 20 years, winning numerous Provincial, South Island and New Zealand Championships.

A major highlight was attaining my Diploma in 1992 with Honours in all Grades.

My love for Highland Dancing continues today through my School of Highland Dance in Oamaru of which I have now been teaching for over 20 years.

I love to foster confidence, growth and development in all my pupils and always feel privileged when tutoring at Summer Schools and workshops for being able to share my passion with others, in our art form which offers so much more than just dance.

I will always be grateful for the support, friendships and opportunities offered from commencing Highland Dancing many years ago.

I am currently President of North Otago Piping and Dancing and was honoured to join the Technical Committee in 2019. I enjoy the challenges this role entails, and the connections with members and their pupils as both an Examiner and a tutor.

Jacqueline Seque
Jacqui began Highland and National dancing classes at the age of 5, with her two older sisters, and later on younger sister Shiobhan.  
She gained her diploma at 17 with Honours in all Grades, and felt honoured to have been tutored for some of her step exams by the late Daisy Horrell (Aunty Daisy), whom she had developed a strong bond with. Daisy even choreographed a special dance for her called ‘The Devil's Dance’ to perform at the Burns celebration, just before she passed away. 
In 1988, under the tutelage of Annetta Cowie, she successfully gained her Solo Seal exam, the pinnacle of Highland Dancing exams.  She was a successful competitive dancer, and was runner-up NZ Champion 18 years and over, in 1989 and 1990.  Annetta instilled in her a desire to perfect technique, and a love and appreciation of rhythm and timing with the Irish dances. 
She began teaching Highland dance at a very young age, helping out her teachers, and by about the age of 16, started her own dance school in Mosgiel, and later teaching from Concord School in Dunedin, where she works as a primary school teacher.  She enjoys teaching all ages of children, at all ability levels.  She has a special interest in the learning styles and learning needs of the children, focusing on how to encourage them to become the best they can be, and gain important skills that will support them in all areas of their lives.  
She has tutored at many Summer Schools throughout NZ, as well as judged at all levels of competitions, making life-long friendships.  She is currently secretary of the Otago Centre P&D, and is an active member of the Ghillie Callum teachers and judges club in Dunedin. 
With being part of the Technical Committee, she hopes to give back to and support a much loved art-form and to help preserve the traditional NZ style of Highland Dance for future generations. 


The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
site powered by - Turboweb :: Simple Web Manager
site powered by - Turboweb :: Simple Web Manager