About us


Kia ora and welcome to Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. We are a prestigious tertiary training organisation based in Wellington. For over half a century we have trained the best performers, designers and craftspeople from New Zealand and from around the world.

Our Kaupapa

Our Kaupapa (Mission Statement) is: Opening up the future and potential of performance practice.

We are a bicultural organisation and the following values form our foundation.

Our Values

Wairua: Spirit. Innovation. Inspiration. Artistry. Research and Development.

Kawa Whakaruruhau: Protecting. Creating cultural safety and supporting individual differences.. Growing individual agency.

Aroha: Love and sharing. Connecting up the performing arts community. Growing sustainability and wellness in our industry and community.

Manaakitanga: Caring and welcoming. Holding mana - our history of prestige, excellence. Maintaining and enhancing our integrity. Growing and nurturing the industry in relationship to growing our students.


Toi Whakaari is managed on a day to day basis by the school Director. This role and the operations of the school is overseen by a Board of Trustees. The Board is made up of volunteers who are passionate about seeing the next generation of performing arts practitioners succeeding in their careers. Our boards members are:

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

Tim Walker


Roman Rogers

Deputy Chair

Angus Evison


Jane von Dadelszen

Helen Pearse-Otene

Katherine Baxter

Charmaine Ngarimu

Te Roopū Whakahaere o Toi Whakaari

Briar Grace-Smith
Tanemahuta Gray
Kaumatua Ross Himona
Kahu Hotere
Hone Hurihanganui
Mikaere Paki
Rangimoana Taylor
Tanea Heke
Helen Pearse-Otene

Academic Committee

Jane von Dadelszen (Chair)
Simon Bennett (Deputy chair)
Tanea Heke
Kaarin Slevin
Craig Atkins
Professor David O’Donnell (External)
Dr. Suzanne Little (External)

People, Plant and Risk Committee

Angus Evison (Chair)
Roman Rogers (Deputy chair)
Tanea Heke
Tamara Aluwihare
Colin Edson

Engagement Committee

Charmaine Ngarimu (Chair)
Helen Pearse-Otene (Deputy chair)
Tanea Heke
With support from the Engagement team


Toi Whakaari Story

Toi Whakaari has been nurturing performers and arts practitioners for over 50 years.

The chances of students being employed after graduating at Toi Whakaari is high, partly because New Zealand has a busy TV and film industry with international connections, but also because students leave Toi Whakaari equipped with considerable knowledge, skills and experience to thrive in New Zealand’s performing arts scene.

Toi Whakaari has outstanding tutors and guest tutors, who are experienced practitioners themselves, who can successfully harness the amazing raw talent of their students. Studying at Toi Whakaari has become an essential step for students wishing to pursue a career in the performing arts, and the connection with the school does not end at graduation. The learning opportunities continue well after, and the industry connections students make while studying with us will remain important for the student’s entire career. This is a major difference between Toi Whakaari and other drama schools, both in New Zealand and around the world.

During this time the school has gained a reputation for producing graduates who perform brilliantly in their respective disciplines and who create their own work. Our graduates occupy key roles in all areas of our creative industries and over the last fifty years they have greatly influenced the performing arts in Aotearoa.

During the next 50 years, Toi Whakaari will continue to be a major voice in the New Zealand performing arts industry as we train students and give them the skills to meet the current industry demands. In addition, we give students transferable skills that enable them to easily adapt to this country’s fast-changing arts scene.

Students want to study at Toi Whakaari because they know they will be in a supportive environment, as well as being part of a highly regarded organisation with an international reputation.