Joe Harrop

Dr. Joe Harrop was Programme Director for Sistema Aotearoa, a partnership between the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Sistema Aotearoa is based on El Sistema in Venezuela, which uses the symphony orchestra as an alternative context for learning and teaching. It provides free instruments and tuition to children aged between 6 and 10 years.


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Sistema’s young graduates leave with a sense of capability, endurance and resilience, confident about taking on new challenges. They develop a deep sense of value, of being loved and appreciated, and the knowledge that excellence is within their grasp.

The orchestra has captured audiences across Auckland and created noticeable change beyond the borders of the programme, and into the Otara community, where Joe has developed significant relationships with local leaders. As an Aucklander and of European and Samoan descent, he has found a unique ability to relate to the students as their leader, teacher and role model.

Born and raised in New Zealand Joe studied violin at the University of Auckland and privately in Germany before completing his Masters degree and PhD at the Royal Academy of Music. He left a successful career in the UK and courageously returned to New Zealand to take on an uncertain challenge in implementing Sistema Aotearoa in South Auckland. Today, the undoubted positive impact of his unique combination of talent and leadership is inspiring new models of social change in Auckland and across the country.

Joe left Sistema in 2015 and is now a professional musician and music teacher from his Waikehe base.