*** Applications for 2018 are open now! ***

The Bachelor of Performing Arts (Acting) is a three year intensive degree programme that is designed to train a Responsive Actor. This is an actor who has the courage, skill and flexibility to meet any opportunity as they build a career in the arts. As an actor in training at Toi Whakaari you will work across screen and live performance in class, studio and realised productions. You will work solo, in ensemble and in collaboration with other training artists in Design, Costume and Management.

Toi Whakaari is a whare-tāpere. A place that nurtures you through challenges, helps you grow through the work and asks you to go to those places that we all hide away from. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is for the courageous. 

Te Kohe Tuhaka (Shortland Street, The Dead Lands, Mahana)

At Toi Whakaari I found a community that has defined my professional life. The artists I met while I was studying continue to be my most valued collaborators who inspire me in profound and surprising ways over a decade later. 

Sophie Roberts (Acting Graduate 2007)Artistic Director — Silo Theatre, Most Promising Female Newcomer — Wellington Theatre Awards 2009, Most Promising New Director — Wellington Theatre Awards 2008

For more than 40 years, Toi Whakaari has graduated some of New Zealand’s most successful actors, including Matt Whelan, Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Brooke Williams, Tandi Wright, Amelia Reid, Cliff Curtis, Robyn Malcolm, Emmett Skilton, Martin Csokas, Kerry Fox, Jacob Rajan, Rawiri Paratene, Tim Balme and Rima te Wiata.

Many balance their acting work while making their name as directors including Tim Spite, Rachel House, Sima Urale, Louis Sutherland, Katie Wolfe and Sophie Roberts.

Toi helped me discover my voice. Strengths. Weaknesses. My Value! 

Alex Tarrant (Acting Graduate 2012)800 Words (Seven Network), Tatou (BBC); Recipient of the 2012 Museum Art Hotel Scholarship


Toi Whakaari ensures its graduates have a vision of their future and the skills to create their own opportunities.

Having dreamed of being an actor from the age of 3, there is no way I could ever have made it a reality without the skills, confidence and discipline l gained at Toi Whakaari. There is no other experience in life quite like the 3 years you spend at Drama School, a truly unique experience that teaches you more about yourself and those around you than you ever thought you could know! 

Rachel FormanActing Graduate 2005 Life is a Dream, Backstory (Silo), Some Girls, This is Our Youth, Blood Wedding (Circa)

The Course

Our actor training is built around the concept of Tūrangawaewae — developing your individual and unique place to stand as an actor and artist.

The first year, Tūranga, is focused on you, the individual, freeing habitual patterns and building foundational skill. In concentrated blocks you will work with leading professionals and teachers to build your vocal, movement and imaginative fluency and develop your craft in screen and live performance. In the second half of the year you will work on a classic text for performance and create your own Solo to perform to live audiences.

The second year, Raranga, challenges you to bring and weave your individual skills within the collective, the ensemble and towards collaborative projects. Alongside training you will be part of three major live and screen productions and have the opportunity to be part of masterclasses that will extend your craft in areas you choose.

The third year, Waewae, is about growing your independence and connecting you more to the industry. You will be part of Toi Film, a live performance production and industry workshops, as well as developing, curating and showcasing your own work inside and outside the school.


We’re looking for people who are ready to train — people who have a desire to work and learn by investing in their craft, engaging in rigorous training and have an openness to challenge what they know already. We want actors who are interested in how to collaborate across disciplines, work within groups of people and build their ability to work independently. There is no requirement to have had prior acting experience and there are no academic or physical requirements beyond a good level of health and fitness. Successful applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the first day of Term 1 (Monday 20th of February 2017) and we welcome older applicants.


All applicants will attend a three hour audition workshop with several Toi Acting graduates. This is a craft-filled and active workshop and you will be on the floor working and learning across the three hours. A senior Toi Whakaari Acting tutor will also be present at different points across the workshop. If you successfully move to the next phase of the audition process you will attend Applicants’ Weekend at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in Wellington. This is a three day intensive where you will work with all acting tutors in a wide range of environments including screen and live performance.


The tutors at Toi Whakaari are also practising professionals. All have worked extensively in theatre, film or television both nationally and internationally and bring this experience to bear in their teaching

Heather Timms

Director of Actor Training

Aaron Cortesi

Senior Tutor – Production Practice

Vaughan Slinn

Senior Tutor – Screen Strategy

Jon Hunter

Voice Specialist

Chris Jannides

Senior Tutor – Movement / Research