Dame kiri’s life-changing gift


As Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s 80th birthday celebrations went global last night with celebrations at London’s Opera Holland Park, it was the opera star who gave a life-changing gift to a young Kiwi baritone.

Julien Van Mellaerts was presented with the $60,000 Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate by the foundation’s founder and chair, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. At a gala concert to celebrate Dame Kiri’s 80th birthday at London’s Opera Holland Park, Van Mellaerts was presented with a unique artwork of New Zealand greenstone in front of a capacity audience.

“It is an enormous honour to have been supported and mentored by Dame Kiri and the foundation since 2016, and this is an absolute privilege to be named the 2024 Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate. Thank you,” says Julien.

“Kiri, you showed us all what was possible and you have helped so many with your talent and your generosity to so many singers at home and around the world. It is an incredible opportunity to have been supported by your foundation all these years, and to be named the Laureate is a true honour. I am so incredibly thankful.

“The foundation has done so much for me and so many young NZ singers, and I am so proud to be associated with you all. This recognition is immense and I cannot be more honoured or thankful for everything you have, and continue to do, to help advance my own career and that of countless others.”

In 2022 the trustees of The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation established The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate to honour a New Zealand singer whom the Foundation has nurtured, has achieved sustained excellence and who will continue their career into the future.

Sandra Roberts Publicity

M + 64 21 525 104     E sandra@skip.co.nz