Toi Whakaari

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Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School is New Zealand's foremost National Drama School. It is located in Wellington, New Zealand, at a purpose built facility: Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre. Toi Whakaari offers training in Acting, Costume Construction, Performing Arts Management and Design for Stage & Screen.

The School offers the following Tertiary qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Performing Arts (Acting)
  • Bachelor of Performing Arts (Management)
  • Bachelor of Design (Stage & Screen)
  • Diploma in Costume Construction (for Theatre, Film and Allied Industries)

New Qualifications from 2018/19 (Pending NZQA Approval)

  • New Zealand Diploma in Scenic and Properties Construction (From 2018/19)
  • New Zealand Diploma in Costume Construction (From 2018/19)

No longer offered (Or currently being taught out)

  • Diploma in Entertainment Technology (Ending 2017)
  • Advanced Diploma in Entertainment Technology (Ending 2017)
  • Master of Theatre Arts in Directing (Ended 2016)

Toi Whakaari caters to around 130 students annually, who study for up to three years.

On average, 200+ acting students audition for the school each year from around the country. Of these, about 50 are invited for a recall audition and further questioning before the panel selects the 20-24 first year entrants.

The School produces up to six productions of various types a year, largely performed, crewed, designed by students. There are currently three major pieces of screen work, A music video by 1st year Design Students, short screen scene works in 2nd year Acting, and a major short film piece in 3rd year.

Toi Whakaari is the sister school of the New Zealand School of Dance.


Te Kura Toi Whakaari O Aotearoa: NZ Drama School is the official name of the school. The title in Maori (an official language of New Zealand) translates to a place of learning (Te Kura) Performing Arts (Toi Whakaari) in (O) New Zealand (Aotearoa) This titled was 'gifted' to the School in 1988 by Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry for Māori Development) in recognition of the School's bicultural work.


Toi Whakaari was established in 1970 by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. In 2005, its first year students were the subjects of a reality TV show, Tough Act. 2010 saw Toi Whakaari celebrate its 40th Anniversary. This also coincided with a book launch of the School's turbulent 40-year history-The book titled, Transitions, was written by Bill Guest, former Head of the Entertainment Technology Program & Associate Director. Annie Ruth, was Director of the school from 1998-2011 (And one of the first Acting Graduates of the School) she vacated the position in May 2011. Christian Penny (Former HOD of Directing and Associated Director) is the current Director (Since May 2011)

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Coordinates: 41°15′43″S 174°41′31″E / 41.26181°S 174.69189°E / -41.26181; 174.69189