Statement on historical harmful behaviour at Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aotearoa: NZ Drama School

Pitopito Kōrero


May 24, 2022



Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aotearoa: NZ Drama School wishes to update our community with a statement responding to a media report released in December 2021. The report investigated historical claims of sexually harmful behaviour that occurred both within the school and in the wider student community of Toi Whakaari.

Due to the distressing nature of this topic, some may find this statement difficult to read. The full statement can be read below.

We want to remind our school community of the support channels available to you:

  • Our current students can access support from Massey Health & Counselling Services (for current students) 04 979 3030 
  • Safe To Talk (0800 044 334) is a free and confidential service staffed by trained professionals that can be contacted anytime by those impacted by sexually harmful behaviour
  • Wellstop - links to support services nationwide HERE
  • If you require academic support, please contact your lecturer or Craig Atkins – Registrar ( / 021 0826 2095) to discuss how we can accommodate your needs.

Statement from Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aotearoa: NZ Drama School:

Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, tēnā koutou katoa.

In December 2021, a media article was released that highlighted historical claims of sexually harmful behaviour experienced by past students. These claims have been both shocking and distressing to hear. As an institution of learning we are responsible for creating a safe environment for all students. We have had to take a hard look at how the school has responded to sexual harassment and harm, and it is clear that historically Toi Whakaari has not always taken a consistent approach to these matters.

Tumuaki Tanea Heke shared in the media article, and we reaffirm in this statement, that we wholeheartedly acknowledge this hara [wrongdoing] that has transpired over the history of the school. To those impacted persons, we sincerely apologise. We are committed to creating a safe space for those who have been affected by sexually harmful behaviour to come forward and talk to us, in order for us to listen and understand what our former students' experience has been. We hope this helps those impacted in finding a pathway of healing for themselves, and to ensure current and future students can count on a safe learning experience at the school.

Since the media report, the current Board of Trustees, Tumuaki, and school staff have continued a long term process of reviewing protocols. We have conducted an internal audit of current policies and procedures, evaluated our pastoral care for students, and engaged externally with RespectEd Aotearoa to seek a healing process going forward using a restorative practice approach.

The ongoing impacts of the pandemic on our school have caused delays, but we are determined to see the beginning of a process this year of engaging with and hopefully supporting healing for past students who have experienced harm.

Further to this, we have been and will continue to address the wider needs of the school going forward. So far we have had disclosure training for staff members in April, school-wide and externally led intimacy training, and other prevention workshops to follow. An independent review of our systems, frameworks and policies since they were updated in October 2021 will also be undertaken.

We want to acknowledge our current students, staff and whānau for whom this update may cause some distress. We hope that this statement, and the associated action, can bring reassurance that we are committed to forging a new pathway forward for the school, one that uplifts the mana of each student, staff and school community members.

Our intentions as a school looking ahead are driven by aroha, and can be expressed with this whakataukī:

“Mā te kōrero, ka mōhio,
Mā te mōhio, ka mārama,
Mā te mārama, ka mātau,
Mā te mātau, ka ora

Through discussion comes awareness
Through awareness comes understanding
Through understanding comes knowledge
Through knowledge comes wellbeing”

Ngā manaakitanga,

Tim Walker, Chairperson, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.

Tanea Heke, Tumuaki / Director, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.

Any questions

Should you need to contact us, we can be reached as follows:

Tanea Heke – Director / 021 886 972

Craig Atkins – Registrar / 021 0826 2095

For media enquiries- Taylor-Rose Terekia / 021 0394 200