About

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation was created by Dame Kiri in 2004 to assist outstanding young opera singers and musicians with their international career

Dame Kiri knows from personal experience the challenges facing talented young people who aspire to an international career. Financial support from New Zealand benefactors and philanthropic sources helped her move to London in 1966 to learn from the best teachers in the world.

Today, through the Foundation, Dame Kiri is helping a new generation of young New Zealand singers, and selected singers from around the world, to develop their international careers.


Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Kiri Te Kanawa was born in New Zealand with European and Maori heritage.

By the time she was 20 she had won the major vocal prizes available in the South Pacific, and had also started her recording career - unusual for a prima donna in any era. In 1965 she moved to London to study at the London Opera Centre. After first appearing as Carmen in Britain and New Zealand, the young Te Kanawa was marked for Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, first at Sante Fe then at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971.

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Overview of Foundation

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation was created by Dame Kiri in 2004 and is committed to assisting outstanding young New Zealand singers who have complete dedication to their art, with judicious mentoring, financial support and career assistance. The Foundation also provides opera lovers with the unique opportunity to make a difference to the lives and careers of talented young New Zealand singers and to help them achieve their dreams.

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Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK)

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK) is an associate Foundation established in the United Kingdom in 2004 by Dame Kiri to raise local donations and provide support for singers studying in the UK. The UK-based Foundation has similar aims and objectives as the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation except its objectives allow it to consider supporting singers regardless of their country of origin. Generally speaking, the Foundation supports NZ singers who are studying in the UK but have supported a small number of international singers who have come to Dame Kiri’s attention. These include sopranos Julia Lezhneva (Russia), Wallace Chilter (Canada), and Laurayna Bendziunaite (Lithuania) and tenors Chen Chen (China), Roberto Ortiz (Mexico) and bass-baritone Andri Róbertsson (Iceland).

Special projects supported by the UK organisation include the annual Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Cover Awards in association with The Royal Opera House and the annual scholarship awarded to a singer in his/her final year of study at the Royal College of Music.

Although both foundations (who are both chaired by Dame Kiri) have no legal connection they work very closely together. The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK) is an approved charitable trust registered with the Charities Commission in the UK (Registered No 1092813).