BUSINESS: Popera princess Hayley Westenra's soaring
musical career has turned into big time business for
Westenra was happy running a jewellery business
before his teenage daughter's muscial interest spawned into
a full scale international career. David King of The Press
looks at the ins and outs of running the Hayley
Westenra has an urgent frock problem.
parcel has arrived at the front door of his Christchurch
home containing a couple of daughter Hayley's dresses.
problem is they are meant to be in Perth, not Fendalton,
where the 17-year-old popera princess is performing that
night as part of her Australian tour with Andrea Bocelli.
may be a singing sensation but she is also a teenager who
leaves things behind and Hayley forgot to pack the dresses
before leaving for Australia after the Tui awards in Auckland
dad it is just another problem to be solved as part of his
role helping to run the Hayley Westenra empire.
role is now a full-time one after deciding a year ago he
could no longer juggle his jewellery partnership with helping
to look after Hayley's career with wife Jill.
44-year-old started out as a manager at jewellery retailer
Pascoes before qualifying as a gemologist and valuer and
branching out on his own with partners Jack and Ilona Pawlowski.
year he decided he could no longer do justice to the business
and sold out to concentrate on the new family business –
Hayley. He says he owes a lot to the Pawlowskis for their
support, but he had to concentrate on Hayley.
was getting about six hours sleep a night and I was extremely
stressed. My partner was essentially carrying me for a while
and I felt uncomfortable about that."
travels all the time these days and her parents split the
travelling duties with someone always on shift at home with
her younger siblings Sophie and Isaac.
Westenra Promotions is a family business with mum, dad and
Hayley listed as equal shareholders.
money is hers and mum and dad receive an income from Decca
for their work.
our input it would be more difficult for them, they would
be employing sopmebody to do our job," Gerald Westenra
record company look after us as a family, money-wise – just
to keep us afloat. "
work of Gerald and Jill Westenra was recognised on Thursday
night with a special commendation at the Champion Canterbury
business awards in Christchurch.
the word business is something Gerald is not comfortable
don't see it as a business, but it is a business. We don't
think about it like that."
nub of the problem is the idea they are in any way exploiting
their kids and it is clearly something that concerns him.
don't feel comfortable with the idea we are making money
out of our children," he says.
money is her money. We obviously have to have a salary to
survive. We have a business relationship with Hayley."
the Hayley business as it stands is profitable but won't
next year or two, when all the promotion and concert performances
overseas bear fruit and the new album come out, will be
more so, he thinks.
have been rumours in Christchurch of Westenra real estate
empire overseas including a flat in Covent Garden but the
reality is a modest suburban home on a back section.
open plan dining and living area has morphed into a large
office, with a computer and office equipment rubbing shoulders
with a sewing machine, television and exercise equipment.
some Hayley paraphenalia but the main feature is a table
dominated by dozens of photos of smiling little Westenras
a stereo of course and family cockatiel Zak oversees proceedings.
Mitsubishi Pajero sits in the drive and Westenra says there
are no plans for any spending sprees.
family home for the past 18 years is the only one Hayley
has ever known and he says it is hugely important to her
as her base.
they are a frugal family – particularly Hayley who does
not rank as a big spender – but maybe one day he would like
to move to a seaside home in Redcliffs where he grew up.
is no business school for the music industry, and specialist
lawyers and accountants are few and far between in New Zealand.
his business background gave him a good platform but it
has been a Himalyan learning curve.
just got to learn fast and learn on your feet. The most
important thing is to ask (advice from) as many people as
was ever an industry with a reputation for being full of
sharks and rip off contracts it is the music business.
says signing a manager was one of the most difficult jobs.
didn't want to sign the wrong manager. A lot of people would
have felt the pressure. . . when you are under pressure
you can make mistakes but we held back until we found the
person is London manager Steve Abbott who has been aboard
for a year.
Westenras work in a co-management role with Mr Abbott who
has a background in pop and classical music business as
well as record industry management.
bonus is he has a family similar in age to the Westenras
and the kids get along, Westenra says.
all decide things as a group. We treat him as part of the
family and we have family meetings. He travels with Hayley
most the time as well."
Westenra business is a family democracy, where Hayley has
the final say on everything.
run everything by her and advise her and the end call is
he says it is a democracy it appears there is also an element
of parental veto built in as one of the checks and balances
of all good governance systems, especially where there are
is the type of person who will say yes to everything and
will get run down."
has been the case throughout her life we've had to put the
brakes on a few times."
has been the driver."
Westenras are extremely sensitive about being labelled pushy
parents and are aware of the odd bit of talk to that effect.
we know behind our backs we are seen as pushy parents. You
have to live with that."
the "pushy parent" label seems to stick in the
if you are on the side of the rugby field yelling you are
seen as a supportive parent."
sees it as part of the wider "tall poppy" syndrome
which is just as prevalent in business as in normal.
have a lot of difficulty with success in New Zealand,"
link thanks to Jon Voslo
© Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2004.
All the material on this page has the protection of international
copyright. All rights reserved
Posted for the purposes of discussion only - Not for reproduction
without prior permission