Costume Construction


Costume Construction

Costume Construction

New Zealand Diploma in Costume Construction

The New Zealand Diploma in Costume Construction is the only tertiary course in New Zealand that specialises in costume construction for stage and screen. The course is taught by some of New Zealand’s best industry professionals and aims to provide students with skills in all forms of costume construction and production. This will lead to employment in film, theatre and allied industries. Costume students have the opportunity to collaborate with the New Zealand School of Dance on their major performance events as well as being actively involved in most shows, films and performance projects at Toi Whakaari. In addition, the annual Costume Showcase exists to present the graduating costumiers’ work in a live performance event.


“The three most important things my time at Toi gave me were: 1) the ability to identify opportunities for learning, 2) the sensitivity to see a job that needs doing (even if it is just a reset of a working area) and 3) the network of contacts consisting of students, tutors and industry practitioners.”

Johanna Otto, Graduate 2015

Costume Artist

Course Information

The Diploma is a full‐time, two year, vocational and highly practical course covering all aspects of costume work. The second year involves students undertaking industry secondments with professional performing arts organisations in their particular area of interest. This includes areas like film, commercials and theatre.

Costume Construction students must be 18 years of age by the first day of the first term – there is no upper age limit. Applications are invited from candidates of all backgrounds, with or without prior costume experience. 

Year 1

  •  Core Sewing Technique
  •  Flat Pattern-Making
  •  Millinery, Costume Props and Accessories
  •  Costume Construction for Productions and Events
  •  Costume Design Process
  •  Costume History
  •  Costume Dyeing, Printing and Finishing
  •  Costume Textiles and Technology
  •  Context and Practice

Year 2

  •  Advanced Millinery
  •  Costume for Dance
  • Corsetry and Undergarments
  •  Leather, Worbla and EVA foam
  •  Tailoring
  • Costume construction for Productions and Events
  •  Costume Workshop Management
  •  Independent Research Project (Major Work)
  •  Industry Secondment

School year

Feb - Nov


2 years

NZQA Accreditation

Level 6

Domestic fees

For 2024 NZ$8,493 per year

International fees

For 2024 NZ$29,458 Per Year

Application Process

***Applications for entry in 2025 will open on Friday 24 MAY 2024*** Entry to the NZ Diploma in Costume Construction is by portfolio and interview. Applicants are asked to submit evidence of at least two garments you have made. We would also like you to answer some questions outlining why you want to study at Toi Whakaari and how this training will help you accomplish your future goals.

Personal Statement Info:

In the Personal Statement section of the Application Form please address the following (150-200 words each MAX):

  • Your most significant achievements to date
  • What qualities you would bring to Toi Whakaari
  • What you expect to gain from your time at Toi Whakaari

You are particularly encouraged to share some personal insights and influences that shaped you.

Portfolio Info:

In the Portfolio section of the Application Form you can either: enter a link to your website/Tumblr/Dropbox or other online portal, or you can compress the portfolio images into a ZIP file and email them to before the application deadline.

  • Provide colour photos of two costume or clothing projects (e.g. a costume for the school play, a garment you have made for yourself, etc.). Photos should include a complete front view of the garment, a complete back view, and close ups of any interesting detail. If you are selected for an interview you will be asked to bring this work with you. DO NOT SEND IN THE GARMENTS.

Career Pathways

The NZ Diploma in Costume Construction is designed to provide graduates who may enter the workforce as an employee, freelance or self-employed practitioner in roles such as:

  • Costume Maker
  • Costume Supervisor
  • Costume Stylist
  • Costume Stand-by
  • Costume Design Associate
  • Costume Prop or Soft Prop Maker
  • Milliner
  • Buyer
  • Costume Textile Artist (costume ageing and distressing, dyeing and printing etc.)

“Overall, my time at Toi Whakaari is one that I will always hold close. It is part of me and the lessons and morals I learnt whilst there will take me through both my professional and personal life.”

Rianne Elizabeth Gibson, Graduate 2017

“The costume course enabled me to refine my skills and gain experience in multiple roles giving me confidence in my ability to adapt to any job”

Tessa Paaymans, Graduate 2015

“Tutors are invested in every individual and their knowledge is an invaluable resource both during and beyond the course of the diploma. Having had opportunities to apply my learning through industry secondments right from the first year, the training has equipped me to graduate with confidence and momentum towards achieving my career goals."

Sarah Carswell, Graduate 2014

- Costume Assistant – Ghost in the Shell (Dreamworks);

- Wardrobe Assistant, Royal New Zealand Ballet;

- Costumier, Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ;

- Recipient of the 2014 Bill Guest Award.