Hymn to life

Aroha emanates from Motueka-born Patsy Burke who will graduate on December 15 with a Diploma in Arts and Media (Contemporary Music).

The successful short film maker, creative writer, songwriter and budding producer can’t speak highly enough of her time at the music department completing the Level 5 Diploma. Tutors Sam Atkins and Doug Stenhouse have been amazing, she says.

“Sam has taught me so much about being a songwriter. One of the principal instruments I used as part of my assessment was the bass guitar and Sam is an amazing bass guitarist, one of the best in Nelson. Of course Doug Stenhouse - he’s an amazing teacher of music theory, and great with computer technology like Logic PRO.”

The tutors thought the same of Patsy - awarding her the Tutors Award in October for her strength, leadership and professional skills.

Helping and connecting is a natural part of Patsy's personality. During her two years at NMIT, Patsy has built warm relationships with many students and tutors.

Keen to support others in their growth, in her first year of the music programme, Patsy connected with NMIT’s on-campus Hair and Beauty school to do hair and makeup on a band photo shoot. She also connected with a student photographer to take the photos, and a student graphic designer to create the artwork, posters and more.

As she says, G Block is alive with talent. “In G Block there is a wonderful atmosphere of creativity. If you’ve chosen the right school to be in for you, you’re going to flourish. You're surrounded by people who inspire you every day.”

Patsy utilised her time at NMIT to finish writing and producing a sample of songs for her next big project - a feature length film based on her short film, Breakthrough.

Selected for the Top of the South Film Festival in October, Breakthrough tells the story of a young girl experiencing issues in her life. The film has been well-received by many, including Creative New Zealand.

Studying contemporary music has enabled Patsy to experience what a musician goes through, from writing the song to creating the beat and then having an artist perform the song. She has also learnt music literacy which has been invaluable. These skills will support her into the future, she says. “I’ll be able to have skilled conversations with music distributors.”

Patsy is a Christian of Ngāti Porou descent on her father’s side, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Whātua on her mother’s side. Her musical style draws from Christian pop with a bit of hip hop and classical thrown into the mix.

A love of theatre, dance and performance started at Tasman Gospel Church at a young age, but the seed was firmly planted in 2005 after attending a Hillsong conference in Australia with the Annesbrook Church leadership team.

From there, she created a programme of creative arts for primary school children in her care at an after school programme. This included dance performances, drama, stop motion animation and green screen techniques.

In 2012 she directed a short inspirational film called Awakening the Rangatahi since nominated for two awards. She has also made a music video for organisation Stop Violence.

At 51 years of age, Patsy says it hasn’t been too late for her to start on this path.

“I think it’s a real test and testimony to yourself to be humble. I’m discovering new things which has helped me become who I am today.”

The part-time Garin College hostel supervisor is looking forward to the journey beyond study.

“From this point onwards I don’t need to do anything else, I have what I need to take that into the industry. I feel there’s no turning back. There’s pathways opening to me.”

Patsy will focus on producing bands and developing her screenplay in 2018. She already has her logline and treatment complete, a sample script, and a loyal and supportive crew of local filmmakers at her side.

“Everything is in balance. I’m ready to go into the next year and see what happens.”

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