Good vibrations at WOMAD for Cameron

Cameron Gillbanks might not be able to hear the music at WOMAD, but he can certainly feel the good vibrations.

The 26-year-old New Plymouth man was born profoundly deaf and although he can’t listen to the artists at the award-winning festival, he continues to volunteer year after year.

“I volunteer because it’s fun,” Gillbanks says through a sign language communicator.

“I can feel the vibrations of the music, and it feels good to help. Brooklands Park is one of my favourite places and it’s good to see people enjoying it.

“I get to meet new people, some from all over the world. I also like the coffee that’s at WOMAD.”

For the past five years Gillbanks has been part of the TSB Community Trust volunteer programme for WOMAD and has worked in the Todd Energy Zero Waste team.

“I like doing the rubbish, and pulling the trolley around,” he says.

As a part of his role he works with other volunteers and says he enjoys teaching them basic sign language as they work to keep the site as clean and tidy as possible.

“They seem to really like learning and then they can then interact.”

WOMAD Volunteer Coordinator Fran Bateman says this year 512 volunteers will be working across 44 teams.

“We love the enthusiasm the volunteers come with, always smiling, happy and raring to go. They get stuck in to their designated roles, and create new friendships along the way,” Bateman says.  

“WOMAD volunteers are a unique group of people from all walks of life. They come to New Plymouth from far and wide, even internationally, to give up their time willingly to help make WOMAD the success it is.”

The biggest team this year is the Todd Energy Zero Waste group, which is made up of 145 volunteers.

“This dedicated bunch of individuals sort through the rubbish, separating the recycling and the compostables.

“They man the Zero Waste Stations and educate the festival goers on the way. They ensure every single little bit of rubbish is cleared from the site daily.”

  • WOMAD New Zealand is on from March 15 to 17 at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth. For more information visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Cameron Gillbanks loves WOMAD’s strong beats and good vibes so much that even though he can’t hear the music, it’s one of his favourite weekends of the year. SUPPLIED