Championing Creative Practice

Current Focus

In 2022, the group changed its name to Creative Manaaki (formerly Creative Kāpiti and the Kāpiti Arts and Creative Industries Cluster) to better reflect its core values and in response to demand, expansion to neighbouring districts Porirua and Horowhenua, also in the Ōtaki and Mana electorates.

Now with more than 600 members, Creative Manaaki remains committed to championing creative workforce needs, and delivering projects and events in keeping with its goals. Continuing to be led by Jenna, next steps are to formalise a social enterprise structure to enable the group to reinvest funds in activities that benefit the wider community and help increase access and participation in creative skills. 

In the beginning: 2018 – 2020

Creative Manaaki was launched as an independent cluster group in Kāpiti by Jenna-Lea Philpott at the end of 2018, to more easily connect creative practitioners with each other and increase opportunity for collaboration, trade and support. Within 24 hours, more than 100 members had joined, including artists living opposite each other on the same street, who previously had no awareness of each other.

Building and strengthening connection was the focus in the first year. Facilitated by Jenna, the group met quarterly and identified potential opportunities and common pain points from which a shared vision, goals and projects developed. This helped build early resilience, just before the first Covid lockdown in 2020.

Raising the visibility and championing the contribution of the creative industries to the local economy in a two year process from 2018-2020, the group successfully advocated for inclusion of the creative industries in the Kāpiti Economic Development Strategy 2020 – 2023 and became a lead and supporting partner for several of the 26 actions. The group also shared their creative tourism plan to help inform the development of the 2021 Kāpiti Destination Plan.


Evolution 2021 – Present

By 2021, the group had expanded to more than 500 members, established new partnerships with businesses in other industries, and was delivering new projects with small amounts of funding from a community board, the Kāpiti Creative Communities Scheme and an arts grant from Creative New Zealand towards the development of this website.

As Covid-19 restrictions played havoc with the sector’s ability to operate, the group’s activities and projects were also delayed or curtailed with cancelled events becoming the norm. Pivoting to respond to the circumstances, and in partnership with others, the group launched the Summer Music in the Parks concert series (employing three part-time staff and more than 30 musicians), the Art for Everyone programme (employing two part-time staff and providing income generation opportunity for more than 300 artists), and the Tohorā Community Art Installation project (employing two part-time staff) which commemorates the 30 year anniversary of Kāpiti Marine Reserve.

Our Vision

To champion creative practice, raise the visibility of the creative industries, and support increased access and participation in creative skills.

Our Goals

Workforce Goal

To leverage and stimulate opportunities for rangatahi and emerging creative practitioners to develop their creative practice.

Our Values

Mā te mahi tahi ka ora ai te iwi
By working together we move forward. We are proud to work with others that share our values, vision, and commitment to advancing the creative workforce.

Creative exploration and taking risks. We are not afraid to try new ways of doing and creating.

Nurturing our young people along the creative pathway. We support our rangatahi to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience they need to develop their creative career.


Independent economic development practitioner and musician, Jenna-Lea Philpott founded Creative Manaaki based on the principles of cluster development. Her previous roles have included Industry Engagement Advisor at Creative & Cultural Skills UK, managing the development of the first 10 year skills plan for the craft industries, launched at the House of Lords and craft creative apprenticeship. Also as Creative Industries Project Manager for the Canterbury Development Corporation, producing the country’s first economic development strategy for the creative industries.

Jenna-Lee Philpott and Sandra Smilie of Creative Manaaki

Creative Manaaki Team

Jenna-Lea Philpott – founding director 

Sandra Smillie – curator

Amanda Smart – graphic design 

Anna Butterfield – web support

Thanks to our friends for their support