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The Big Ambition of Toi Whakaari’s Tanea Heke

E te Tī, e te Tā, tēnā koutou katoa

Ka tika kia mihia ō tātou tino mate e ngaro atu nei ki tua-o-te-ārai, rātou kua whetūrangitia. Kei ngā mate hūhua, haere, whakangaro atu rā ki te pō, oti atu ki te pō.

Tātou o te ao ora e pakanga tonu nei i te mate urutā o te wā, i te mate kōwheori - tēnā rā tātou katoa.

As Toi Whakaari reopens this week, and importantly during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori / Māori Language week, one thing for certain is that the lockdown has not slowed the ambition or optimism of its Tumuaki Tanea Heke (Ngā Puhi).

Graduating from Toi Whakaari’s Acting course in 1997, and having had an equally impressive parallel career in arts management, Tanea Heke became the Tumuaki/ Director of the kura in 2019. She has managed to harmoniously continue her acting career, with pivotal roles this year in ground-breaking feature films Cousins and The Justice of Bunny King. Her latest short film He Takatāpui Ahau was released this week.

With more opportunity than ever for compelling roles for Māori and Pasifika in front of the camera and a thriving acting career of her own, Tanea Heke’s ambition is more complex. “I've been lucky to be involved in three outstanding film projects this year telling stories of Aotearoa where strong, visionary wahine have been at the helm. Diversity of perspectives and experience in all roles of the performing arts add an intangible richness and depth of creativity. There are already many talented Māori and Pasifika creatives in our industry but there’s plenty of room for more. There are heaps of actors (of course) but it is so important we’re represented behind the camera and back of house – as designers, makers, and running the show! I celebrate when I see productions such as Ahikāroa and The Panthers, The Haka Party Incident and Wild Dogs Under my Skirt. Our people, telling our stories - in charge of our narratives.”

["He waimarie nōku ki te tautoko i ngā kaupapa kiriata e toru i tēnei tau i aratakina e ētahi wāhine mārohirohi mārika. Mā ngā tini whakaaro me ngā tini wheako o tēnā, o tēnā, i ngā mahi ā Te Rēhia ka puāwai, ka pārekareka hoki te hohonu me te whānui o te auahatanga. He takitini tonu ngā tohunga ā-toi engari ka taea tonutia kia takimano noa atu. He nui rā ngā kaiwhakaari, engari me nui atu anō te hunga mau kāmera, kaihoahoa, kaiwaihanga, kaiwhakahaere anō hoki! Ka harikoa katoa au inā kitea ana ngā whakaaturanga pērā i a 'Ahikāroa', i a 'Panthers', i a 'The Haka Party Incident', i a 'Wild Dogs Under My Skirt'. Ko tātou, kei te kōrero mō tātou ake, e pupuri ana i te mana o ō tātou kōrero."]

Toi Whakaari has had a long history of producing successful internationally renowned actors from all backgrounds. Since it began over 50 years ago, the Acting course has enjoyed the benefits and innovation that diversity brings. Under Tanea Heke’s mana whakahaere / leadership, Toi Whakaari is moving beyond its days as simply a bi-cultural institution to one that embraces kaupapa Māori at its foundation. “Our aim is to open the door to more Māori and Pasifika students across all of our courses. We want to show our young people they have something unique to offer and we want to nurture that talent in our creative and energetic environment.”

Toi Whakaari offers tertiary degrees in Design for Stage & Screen and Performing Arts Management. Additionally, there are diplomas in Set & Props and Costume Construction. Applications for study next year close on 1 October 2021. For further information and to apply visit

Poipoia te kākano kia puāwai.

Notes to the Editor

· Toi Whakaari is proud to be New Zealand’s longest running tertiary provider of performing arts training.

· With 51 years’ experience in the industry, Toi Whakaari offers five full time courses in multiple creative disciplines:
- Acting — three year degree / Bachelor of Performing Arts (Acting)
- Arts Management — three year degree / Bachelor of Performing Arts (Management)
- Costume Construction — two year diploma / NZ Diploma in Costume Construction
- Design for Stage & Screen — three year degree / Bachelor of Design (Stage & Screen)
- Set & Props Construction — two year diploma / NZ Diploma in Scenic Construction & Properties

· APPLICATIONS CLOSE - 1 October 2021 -Arts Management / Costume / Design / Set & Props. (Acting applications are closed)

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