Music Faculty



Prof. Rob McWilliams

Prof. Rob McWilliams was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Ph. D. in Music/Music Education (conducting focus) from the University of Minnesota, a Master’s degree in Instrumental Conducting from Florida State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Melbourne. Dr McWilliams was a United States resident from 1991 to 2014 and served as Professor of Music and Director of Bands and Instrumental Music Education at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh from 1996. He also served as Head of Music from 2011 to 2014. Dr McWilliams has conducted and presented at major music conferences in Japan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Europe, China, all states of Australia, and has been published in the Journal of Band Research, Teaching Music Through Performance, and is a composer/arranger with Alfred’s Music.  


Neill Pickard

Neill Pickard Q.S.M. B.A. Hons (French) (Cant) B.A. (Education) (Cant)  Dip. Ed. (Massey & Cant) Dip. Tchg. (ChCh Teachers’ College)

C.P.I.T. (now ARA), Lecturer Emeritus, retired in 2003 as Head of Jazz within the Faculty of Humanities at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.  Tutor at the C.P.I.T. since 1979, having taught in the following areas:  French, English as a Second Language, Japanese, Communication Studies, Office Systems, Hospitality, Maori Studies, Broadcasting Studies, Staff Education, and the South Island Tutor Training Unit for South Island Polytechnics. 

Studied Japanese and chaperoned Christchurch Polytechnic Japanese language students to a New Zealand fair in Nagano, Japan, in August of 1987 and travelled to France in 1989 to study for Certificates in Business French the French Chamber of Commerce in Paris and Vichy.

In charge of the Executant Performance portfolio since arriving at the Polytechnic in 1979 and instrumental in setting up the Jazz Diploma programme (which began in 1991 developing into a Bachelor of Music Arts degree at CPIT), the Circo-Arts programme, which began in 1995, the Certificate in Contemporary Music, which began in July 1998 and the Diploma in Commercial Music which began in 2003 and is now an integral part of the Bachelor of Musical Arts degree.

Pursued a career as a French/English teacher and continued with amateur work as a guitarist/ vocalist with various dance bands and as an acoustic bassist/vocalist with a variety of folk groups a founder member of the University of Canterbury Folk Club. Currently playing 4 & 5 string banjo, guitar and bass and a member of a Dixieland group called ‘The River City Jazzmen’ as a vocalist, playing plectrum banjo and guitar.

In 2008 awarded a Civic Award medal and Certificate for service to Education and Jazz in Christchurch and the Queen’s Service Medal for service to Education and the Jazz community.

Up to 2012, taught night class Jazz History and Appreciation courses, Stages I and II Jazz History in the Bachelor of Musical Arts at the C.P.I.T., in addition to the stage 1 Jazz History course ‘Rags to Swing’ (MUSI 109/AMST 112) at the University of Canterbury. Since 2004  has taught junior French, ESOL & Music Option classes at Burnside High School. Retired in 2018.

Peter Adams

Peter Adams is an Associate Professor of Music at Otago University and a well-known conductor, composer and clarinettist. Peter has built up a fine reputation as a musical leader in the community, working with many local musical organisations (including City Choir Dunedin, Opera Otago, St Kilda Brass, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and Dunedin Youth Orchestra) and has also guest conducted all around New Zealand and Australia with orchestras, brass bands and choirs.

Peter is a specialist in conducting young people: he has been musical director of the National Youth Brass Band of New Zealand, the Waitaki Summer Music School, the Auckland Philharmonia Summer School, the South Island Youth Orchestra, and the NZ Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra.

Tom Rainey (ONZM)

Born in Nelson in 1962, Tom grew up in a stimulating musical environment before moving to Christchurch to study music at UC in 1981. He has maintained an active profile in the NZ Performing Arts scene as an instrumentalist, arranger, composer, educator, producer, and conductor.

As an instrumentalist on keys and bass, he has performed with a huge variety of artists in many musical styles, including Georgie Fame, John Dankworth, Lee Konitz, James Morrison, Nat Adderly, Harry Secombe, Ronnie Corbett, Max Bygraves, Petula Clark, Renée Geyer, Kamahl, Bic Runga and Hayley Westenra. He has played as support for Cher, Art Garfunkel, Julio Iglesias, the Beach Boys and David Gates, and is a regular contributor to many NZ music festivals and has played on more than 40 albums. Tom has been MD for Irish singer Mary Coughlan for various NZ and Australian tours, including performances in the Sydney Opera House.

As one of NZ’s leading arrangers, his credits include more than 150 orchestrations for artists such as Malcolm McNeill, Tim Beveridge, Judd Arthur, Ali Harper, Hayley Westenra, Whirimako Black, Madeleine Pierard, Bic Runga and Russell Watson. His arrangements have been performed by all the NZ regional orchestras, the NZSO, the Australian Pops Orchestra, the Liverpool Philharmonic and London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, including performances in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US, including Carnegie Hall.

A particular interest in mixing popular styles with the orchestra has seen him initiate, arrange, and produce collaborations with Renée Geyer, Midge Marsden, Bic Runga, Julia Deans, Anika Moa and Goldenhorse. 2003’s “Bic Runga – live with the Christchurch Symphony” was nominated for the NZ music awards, and in 2005 he arranged (with Neil Finn) for Bic’s album “Birds” and for feature concerts by Dave Dobbyn and Greg Johnson. Other work includes the critically acclaimed tour and recording of Salmonella Dub’s “Feel the Seasons Change” with the NZSO. As conductor and arranger, highlights include Kiwi Jazz with the Christchurch Symphony in (2009), Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s Kiwi Soul (2011), James Morrison performing Duke Ellington’s Harlem Suite (2012), LA Mitchell and Friends (2013), and a Canterbury Christmas (2015 and 2017).

Recent projects include Shapeshifter’s opening concert in the Christchurch Town Hall (2019), conducting and arranging for the 2020 UK album releases by singers Aled Jones and Russell Watson(BMG), arrangements for the NZSO at Nelson Opera in the Park for Tami Neilson and Jason Kerrison, and Ali Harpers show and album of the music of Burt Bacharach – The Look of Love.

Tom’s extensive TV credits over the last 30 years include numerous documentary and series soundtracks, including “Kiwi Kitchen” for TVNZ and the role of musical director and composer of the children’s TV programme “Bumble” (over 350 episodes). He has also written and produced numerous advertising jingles for clients such as New World, Shell, Pak’n’save, Postie Plus and Kathmandu. Soundtrack work includes five documentary episodes on the Christchurch earthquakes – “Aftermath” for Prime (2013) and the title music for University Challenge (2016).

As a leading educator, Tom has been involved with the evolution and development of CPIT Christchurch Jazz School as a founding tutor and later programme leader. He has supervised and assessed post-graduate studies at Auckland, Massey, Canterbury, and Otago Universities. In 2008 he was appointed Head of the CPIT’s (now Ara) School of Performing Arts, with oversight of the Jazz School, the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts (NASDA), and Circo Arts. In 2012 Tom was appointed to Head of Department, Creative Industries, with oversight of Art and Design, Broadcasting and Performing Arts. He retired from this role last year after 29 years at Ara to focus on his music career.

 In recognition of his services to music and music education, Tom was recently invested as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM)


Razzle Dazzle 'em Christchurch