About Us

Welcome from the Director

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā waka, e ngā hau e whā . Nau mai, haere mai, ki tō mātou nei kura.

Dear prospective student,

As you read this, I assume you are thinking about how to take the next steps towards developing your career in the performing and screen arts. Or maybe you want to know more about our School and why we teach the way we do. Let me try to help you answer both of these questions.

A little background then. Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aotearoa: New Zealand Drama School (Toi Whakaari) is New Zealand’s largest dedicated training provider for professionals in the screen and performing arts. In 2010 we celebrated our 40th anniversary. Our whakapapa (lineage) dates back almost to the beginning of a professional performing arts industry in this country and together we have grown hand in hand. Our graduates now occupy key roles in all sectors of the industry and related fields.

In 1989 Toi Whakaari took the step of embracing Tikanga Māori (Māori process) as an essential element in the life of the School. Over the following years the School has built, step by step, on this commitment, consistently looking for processes and structures in which we can recognise a uniquely New Zealand drama school.

We currently have three pou (strands) that we focus on as we deliver the training here:

Craft: We teach core craft skills needed to work as a professional in our industry. Skills-acquisition in any field is an ongoing, life-long process. We provide the foundations of these skills as well as equipping you with the hunger and ability to continue to add to them throughout your career.

Learning: We focus on you becoming aware of, understanding, and becoming able to talk about, how you learn. This is so that when you leave, you are armed with the skills that will help you grow and develop in whichever situation you work.

Rongo: This Māori word has many meanings but its essential one is “listening”. Here we expect you to develop the skills of listening, for a wise leader and a wise follower both know how to listen deeply. This will help you work better. It will enrich your partnerships and your collaborations. It will make you a better problem-solver and consequently a more valuable member of the teams you work in. It will help you learn and practise what to do when you get stuck.

We believe that these three strands combined help to make our graduates unique. It makes them employable. It prepares them to contribute most appropriately and effectively to the environments they work in. And it makes them valued by employers: for their craft, their initiative and their application.

As you read this, please consider carefully what I am saying here. Make sure that as you warm up to learning with us, to your career, you see value in our approach. Ask yourself: what is it I want to learn and is this place and the way in which I could best learn it?

If you answer “yes, I want to be an actor, a designer, an arts manager, a technician, director or a costumier”; and “yes, I want to be in a school that seeks to be a global leader for innovation in theatre and screen education and research”; and “yes, I want to study and grow in a school where alongside the delivery of core skill sets, they teach, develop and practise the skills of collaboration and community to strengthen the artists they produce, and their artistry”

… then: Nau mai, haere mai, welcome.

Christian Penny

Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School Prospectus

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