The festival was started by a group of passionate Irish expats in 1995 in order to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and New Zealand’s rich Irish connections.
The festival has evolved over the past couple two decades and now encompasses a broad range of cultural, sport and entertainment events.
Russell O’Brien is a native of Dublin and has lived in Auckland since 1989. He is founder and CEO of Cognitis Innovation, a New Zealand Based innovation consultancy specialising in city scale innovation ecosystems. As Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the City of Auckland he leads the design and delivery of Auckland’s Innovation Plan. He also worked for the New Zealand Government’s innovation agency where he was responsible for the design and roll out of government-funded Technology Incubators. Russell has founded and exited a number of start-up technology companies, he is an experienced private and public sector leader and is a committee member of the Irish Business Network New Zealand. He is a frequent visitor to Skerries his spiritual home in Ireland.
Cathy is a native of Cork and has lived in New Zealand since 2006. She is a digital strategist and editor and has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for almost two decades in newsrooms in New Zealand and Europe. As well as being a trustee for the St Patrick’s Festival Trust, Cathy is a commitee member for the Irish Business Network of New Zealand and a mentor for Pillars New Zealand.
Leo was born and raised in County Galway on the beautiful west coast of Ireland. Leo moved to Auckland in 1998 after spending 10 years in London on the way. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and held many finance leadership roles mainly in technology and telecommunications companies and is currently the Treasurer for 2degrees. He joined the trust in 2019.
Patrick hails from Dublin and first started visiting New Zealand in 2004. In 2012 he settled here for good. He is a relationship manager and adviser for Milford Asset Management, one of New Zealand’s best known and trusted Fund Managers. He is internationally educated having spent time growing up in Portugal, Austria and Germany. Patrick lives on Waiheke Island with his wife, Lucy and his daughter Rose. In his spare time, he like to potter about in his garage and garden. Patrick joined as Trustee in 2019 and is proud to promote and celebrate Irish culture and heritage in Auckland and beyond.
Leeann’s parents immigrated from Ireland in the mid 1970’s from Dublin and Westmeath. Both from Irish dancing families, the tradition was continued and Leeann and her sister Paula started to learn Irish dance. After years of competing around the world, they opened the Doyle Academy of Irish Dance in 1998 in East and South Auckland. Leeann has returned to Ireland multiple times for work, dancing classes, shows and competitions. Leeann has been involved with the St Patrick’s Festival since its beginning, first as a performer and now in 2021 as a trustee. Leeann has been a member of the Traditional Irish Dancing Association of NZ since 2001 and currently manages their website and social media. Leeann also recently joined the International Communication Committee for An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha. Leeann is excited to help grow the St Patrick’s Festival.
Sheila is originally from near Dungannon in County Tyrone. Having studied law at Aberdeen University she first came to New Zealand when she was awarded a Rotary Foundation Scholarship by the Rotary Clubs of Ireland. She completed a Master of Jurisprudence at Auckland University and moved permanently to New Zealand shortly thereafter. Sheila now practises as a barrister based in Ponsonby. She has been a trustee of the St Patrick’s Festival Trust for many years and was also a trustee of the Ronald MacDonald House Auckland for over 15 years. She is the current chairperson of the Waiheke Island Society for the Care of Animals.
The St Patrick’s Festival in Auckland has been managed and run by Crackerjack Events for more than two decades. Pam Glaser, her team and the St Patrick’s Festival Trust have a great working relationship and each year collaborate to bring this much loved festival to Auckland.
Some words from Pam Glaser – Founder and Managing Director of Crackerjack Promotions and the St Patrick’s festival Manager:
“We are a small quirky team of enthusiastic and experienced individuals. Due to our group dynamic we bounce off and work with each other perfectly. We all bring unique qualities and diversity to the company and are actually very good value to have around. We genuinely love what we do and love getting in and amongst all the action as we prepare and execute your dream event. No event is too small or too large – we always come together for larger events, so rest assured we will have you covered from bases.”
“A client once described me as having ‘the precision of a general and the delicacy of a diplomat’. Organising an event is my ultimate ‘high’. My marketing background and years of event experience makes me good at it”.
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