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New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust

Key events organisations – the Gore Country Music Club, NZ Songwriters Trust, NZ Gold Guitar Committee and the Gore District Council - have formed a New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust in July 2019.

“Forming the New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust is an exciting step in building on what is already happening over the week of Queen's Birthday. Since 1976 Gore has been known as the Capital of Country Music, over 100,000 hours of volunteer time each year goes into running the activities and the latest economic survey completed by Gore District attributes approximately 1 million dollars of return to the district.  This is a significant event that Gore residents can be proud of” say Trust Chairperson Jeff Rea.

The Trustees of the New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust are:



Jeff Rea has been involved in music all his life as a singer/songwriter and recording artist, with multiple television appearances and three albums to his credit. He spent ten years touring as a professional musician in the USA and returns annually to perform. He has vast experience in sound engineering, event production and producing albums for other artists. He has also had considerable experience in governance roles and is currently Chairperson of the New Zealand Songwriter’s Trust. Jeff resides in West Otago where he runs a family farming operation with his wife and sons.



Tracy Hicks was the mayor of the Gore District Council from 2005 until 2022. He has had a long involvement in local government being an elected member since in 1980 serving on the Mataura Borough Council, Gore District Council and the Southland Regional Council.  Tracy is the past chair of the Southland Mayoral Forum .  He has been a trustee of the Community Trust of Southland of which he held the chair role for six years.  Tracy has a strong interest in building the capacity and capability of Gore Community.



Philip Geary has convened the MLT NZ Gold Guitar Awards Committee for 22 years and been a committee member for 25 years. Prior to this Philip and his wife Jackie were keen spectators at the NZ Gold Guitar Awards and then became members of the Gore Country Music Club.  Philip completed a five-year apprenticeship in Invercargill as a fitter/turner. This led to a career as an engineer having 14 years on merchant ships worldwide achieving a ranking of Chief Engineer. After marrying wife Jackie, Jackie joined Philip at sea for three years.  Philip was born in Winton and the oldest of seven siblings. He returned to Winton after his career at sea, then shifting to Mataura and working as an engineer at the Mataura Freezing Works. Phillip retired in January 2020 from the Mataura Freezing Works and continues his involvement with country music.



Bronwyn Reid is a Gore District councillor, with an interest in the arts and serving the community. A charter member of Gore River Valley Lions for 27 years, a past committee member of The Sound Foundry for 3 years, and for the last 8 years a member of Creative Communities NZ. Bronwyn is keen to see Gore grow its music base, to attract and welcome as many visitors as possible to the District.

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Julie Mitchell is the president of the Gore Country Music Club and a trustee of the New Zealand Songwriter’s Trust.  Julie’s early career was with the banking industry and she has 22 years in the real estate industry. Julie was educated at St Peters College and her and husband Ron have three daughters.   Julie has a passion for Gore and Country Music and is keen to see the district thrive economically and New Zealand Country Music Festival contributing to that success.

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As a relative newcomer to the Gore District, Ceri and her family have embraced all this beautiful part of New Zealand has to offer. Ceri is an active member of the local community, and a passionate advocate for the Gore District and wider southern region. She is a qualified economic development professional and is committed to sharing her skills and expertise to help support the development and growth of Tussock Country. Music is a big part of the Macleod household (and what they lack in talent they make up for in enthusiasm!).



Roger Bowie is a Certified Advisory Board Chair, and current Chair of the Advisory Board Centre New Zealand Chapter. He is also a writer and music reviewer and a keen Americana fan. He is still shy but not quite retiring from a long and varied corporate career. He has bought, stolen and borrowed 1.8 albums every week since 1970 to amass an eclectic collection, and curates a  monthly radio programme in order to showcases these assets. He lives in Auckland but was born in Tuatapere and is delighted to be “home” and  playing a part in the  success of the Tussock Country.

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Jenny Mitchell is a multiaward winner singer-songwriter and marketing professional with a driven, DIY work ethic. Based in Wellington, but still a Gore girl at heart, Jenny grew up competing in the NZ Gold Guitar Awards where she developed the confidence to pursue a career in music. She is skilled in event management and can’t wait to watch Tussock Country blossom onto the national event calendar. 



Matt  is a musician and producer with extensive international experience working with artists on stage and in studios. Drumming since the age of two, Matt has dabbled with all genres of music including rock, country and jazz - which led him to New York as a session musician where he picked up more instruments and further knowledge of studio production. In 2019 Matt relocated to Southland and to focus solely on music and production, building a boutique music studio in a rural setting, specialising in acoustic / country / folk and has already produced multiple records for local and international artists. Matt's excited to assist in developing Tussock Country into something really special for artists, listeners and visitors to Southland.

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