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Music mentoring vision for a future in expanded social services

From restringing guitars to joining The Jam - Phil Siataga's musical journey.

Phil Siataga is an experienced leader in social and youth work throughout a long career working with NGO’s for over 30 years. He currently works for CAYAD, where he helps provide a range of programs to help reduce alcohol and drug related harm to young people and their families.


Phil was introduced to the Jam by Canterbury Music Education Trust founding member Steve Fowler, and colleague Social worker Gina Halliday. Steve came to Waipuna to restring some guitars as a favour and the resulting ‘jam session’ over lunch, led to Phil’s interest and later, involvement in The Jam.


Gina also has a background as a DJ and event manger.  In 2013 Gina produced an event known as ROCKSKILLS - an event that allowed young people with disabilities to be part of a successful musical performance that was focused on participation, inclusion and empowerment. Gina’s involvement with ROCKSKILLS and Steve’s vision for his music students found a common ground with The Jam.


While the board of The Jam have all come together from different backgrounds, their values and vision for the organisation are the same, promoting inclusion, community involvement, and individual development.


What began as a need to provide young Christchurch musicians with a greater opportunity to perform in safe and non-competitive environments. The Jam is now developing positive mentoring programme. Participation in The Jam boosts young people’s personal confidence, skills, wellbeing, and hope for a future in the music industry.


The mentoring aspect of The Jam struck a chord with Phil, as well as the organizations dedication and vision to help young people to pursue their dreams in music and performing. However, considering that there were only 3 members when Phil joined, there was work to be done. Phil helped the organization to take a step back and create a full strategic plan, as well as look for funding from several grant providers.


Phil is a musician himself, and co-founded a Pasifika musical group called the 13th Tribe, who promote freedom from drug related harm through music and the arts.


While the organization has come a long way from when they started, there is still room for expansion and development within The Jam. The groups vision is to expand The Jam so that it includes other performing arts programmes, such as art, drama and dance. The Jam will work towards building partnerships with other organization who all share a unified goal of helping young artists to pursue their passion.


They are also interested in working with people with disabilities who are interested in music and performing. The group want to provide them an opportunity to perform on the same platform as everyone else, and to normalize a culture that focuses on their pure talent, and musical passion. To Phil, music is something that all human beings have in common, a language of the soul that is an emotional, good human experience.