Arts & Culture

The arts are powerful forms of expression that recognise, value, and contribute to the unique bicultural and multicultural character of Aotearoa New Zealand, enriching the lives of all New Zealanders.


What are the arts about?

The arts are powerful forms of expression that recognise, value, and contribute to the unique bicultural and multicultural character of Aotearoa New Zealand, enriching the lives of all New Zealanders. The arts have their own distinct languages that use both verbal and non-verbal conventions, mediated by selected processes and technologies. Through movement, sound, and image, the arts transform people’s creative ideas into expressive works that communicate layered meanings.

Why study the arts?

Arts education explores, challenges, affirms, and celebrates unique artistic expressions of self, community, and culture. It embraces toi Māori, valuing the forms and practices of customary and contemporary Māori performing, musical, and visual arts.

Learning in, through, and about the arts stimulates creative action and response by engaging and connecting thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings. By participating in the arts, students’ personal well-being is enhanced. As students express and interpret ideas within creative, aesthetic, and technological frameworks, their confidence to take risks is increased. Specialist studies enable students to contribute their vision, abilities, and energies to arts initiatives and creative industries.

In the arts, students learn to work both independently and collaboratively to construct meanings, produce works, and respond to and value others’ contributions. They learn to use imagination to engage with unexpected outcomes and to explore multiple solutions.

Arts education values young children’s experiences and builds on these with increasing sophistication and complexity as their knowledge and skills develop. Through the use of creative and intuitive thought and action, learners in the arts are able to view their world from new perspectives. Through the development of arts literacies, students, as creators, presenters, viewers, and listeners, are able to participate in, interpret, value, and enjoy the arts throughout their lives.

Visual Arts:

  1. The Visual Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum

The visual arts in the New Zealand Curriculum constitute a wide range of fields, including sculpture, painting, printmaking, photography, design, electronic media and film, and the history of art. Students become increasingly literate in the visual arts as they learn from example, practise ways of working, and explore and reflect on the conceptual, perceptual, and practical processes of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and time-based art.

Students learn in, through, and about the various forms and processes of the visual arts. Through practical work and a study of others’ art, they learn to make objects and images, to source and develop ideas, and to communicate and interpret meaning. They come to understand visual art works as social and historical texts as they investigate the contexts in which the visual arts are made, used, and valued.

Education in the visual arts may include the art forms of all cultures, past and present. In Aotearoa New Zealand, all students should have opportunities to learn about traditional and contemporary Māori art forms.

As makers and viewers, students gain knowledge about the content, structure, and meaning of art works and develop visual literacy in their representation and “reading” of the visual world. They develop appropriate critical skills and understandings as they analyse and question the parameters of visual arts practice.

Through engaging in the visual arts, students learn how to discern, participate in, and celebrate their own and others’ visual worlds. Visual arts learning begins with children’s curiosity and delight in their senses and stories and extends to communication of complex ideas and concepts. An understanding of Māori visual culture is achieved through exploration of Māori contexts. The arts of European, Pasifika, Asian, and other cultures add significant dimensions to New Zealand visual culture.

In visual arts education, students develop visual literacy and aesthetic awareness as they manipulate and transform visual, tactile, and spatial ideas to solve problems. They explore experiences, stories, abstract concepts, social issues, and needs, both individually and collaboratively. They experiment with materials, using processes and conventions to develop their visual enquiries and create both static and time-based art works. They view art works, bringing their own experiences, sharing their responses, and generating multiple interpretations. Their meaning making is further informed by investigation of the contexts in which art works are created, used, and valued. As they develop their visual literacy, students are able to engage with a wider range of art experiences in increasingly complex and conscious ways.

The visual arts develop students’ conceptual thinking within a range of practices across drawing, sculpture, design, painting, printmaking, photography, and moving image. Art history may include a study of theories of the arts, architecture, and design. Theoretical investigations also inform practical enquiry. Opportunities to explore and communicate in the visual arts continue to expand as technologies and multi-disciplinary practices evolve.



What is drama?

Drama is an art form, a practical activity and an intellectual discipline highly accessible to young people.In education, it is a mode of learning that challenges students to make meaning of their world.

A drama education which begins with play may eventually include all the elements of theatre.

  • Drama is the enactment of real and imagined events through roles and situations.
  • Drama enables both individuals and groups to explore, shape and symbolically represent ideas and feelings and their consequences.
  • Drama has the capacity to move and challenge values, cultures and identities
  • Drama includes a wide range of experiences, such as dramatic play, improvisation, theatrical performance, film and television drama, and includes both the processes and presentation of drama.
  • Drama draws on many different contexts, from past and present societies and cultures.

Drama is one of the four art forms to make up the Arts, an essential learning area as identified in the New Zealand Curriculum Framework.​

An education in drama

Drama in the school curriculum can develop students’ artistic and creative skills. It can also provide knowledge and skills that are transferable to a variety of artistic, social and work-related contexts.

An education in drama can:

  • humanise learning by provide lifelike learning contexts in a classroom setting that values active participation in a non-threatening, supportive environment.
  • empower students to understand and influence their world through exploring roles and situations.
  • develop students’ non-verbal, individual and group communication skills.
  • develop students’ intellectual, social, physical, emotional and moral domains through learning that engages their thoughts, feelings, bodies and actions.
  • enable students to become critically reflective members of the New Zealand community through their engagements in dramatic contexts relating to identity, societies, cultures, ideologies, gender, time and change.
  • give students knowledge and understanding of drama and skills in drama to participate throughout life in one of the oldest yet most dynamic art forms.
  • give students experience in and understanding of the other Arts.

The Arts are important to the growth of self-knowledge and self worth. They encourage students’ to investigate their own values and those of others, and to recognise the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions of their lives.


Music – Sound arts

Sound from natural, acoustic, and digital environments is the source material for expressive ideas in music. These ideas are manipulated and extended into forms, genres, and styles that are recognised as music. Music is a fundamental form of expression, both personal and cultural. Value is placed upon the musical heritages of New Zealand’s diverse cultures, including traditional and contemporary Māori musical arts. By making, sharing, and responding to music, students contribute to the cultural life of their schools, whānau, peer groups, and communities. As they engage with and develop knowledge and deeper understandings of music, they draw on cultural practices and on histories, theories, structures, technologies, and personal experiences.

In music education, students work individually and collaboratively to explore the potential of sounds and technologies for creating, interpreting, and representing music ideas. As they think about and explore innovative sound and media, students have rich opportunities to further their own creative potential.

​Students develop literacies in music as they listen and respond, sing, play instruments, create and improvise, read symbols and notations, record sound and music works, and analyse and appreciate music. This enables them to develop aural and theoretical skills and to value and understand the expressive qualities of music.

​As students learn to communicate musically with increasing sophistication, they lay a foundation for lifelong enjoyment of and participation in music. Some will go on to take courses in musicology, performance, or composition. These may be steps on the way to music-related employment.

Maori Performing Arts

This course focuses on individual waiata and their functions in terms of iwi perspectives, customs and protocols.  (Tikanga & Kawa) Courses includes knowledge of  tikanga, , performance skills, research and costume. ensemble. and demonstration of knowledge of waiata, waiata-a-ringa, poi, haka and whakaraka through performance and research.

July 2019, Edgecumbe College Kapa Haka students proudly represented our school at the much anticipated Mataatua Regional Kapa Haka festival. This event is held bi-annually, this year the event was hosted at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall. The festival allows our students to compete at a Secondary School event that demands discipline, courage, and a high calibre performance. 10 Schools from Tauranga through to Te Whanau Apanui – Opotiki took to the stage to showcase their performing arts skillsets. 

As part of the Performing Arts criteria, students learn through waiata and haka to enhance the cultural learning of the Rangitaiki/Ngati Awa region. Kaumatua and Marae from 5 tribes (iwi) are involved with our school and primary schools in the area to provide guidance and local knowledge to their repertoire of song and dance.

Our school proudly identifies our Maori culture where we collaborate with iwi in the area. We provide an environment to nurture, teach, guide and protect our taonga (our students). Students involved with our Kapa Haka show their potential in other areas of the school where leadership, confidence and humility attributes are displayed. They learn to gain respect by being respectful.