Creative Industries industry partner update November 2022

1. Introduction from Vanessa Byrnes, Head of the School of Creative Industries


Introduction from Vanessa

Kia ora koutou,

As Head of School for Creative Industries at Unitec, I am writing to you in the spirit of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), mahi kotahitanga (co-operation) and ngākau māhaki (respect), to update you on Unitec’s transition to Te Pūkenga that occurred recently, and what it means for our School. While this will involve a change of name and brand to be rolled out over 2023, our mahi and commitment to you and our tauira remain as strong as ever.

We are excited to be moving into our new home in Building 108 at Unitec’s Mt Albert campus in early 2023. It has been a challenging last couple of years with COVID, lockdowns, remote learning, and the relocation of our performing and screen arts programmes after 30 years. But we now have a new state-of-the-art facility which will open up new doors for our kaiako and tauira.

We look forward to starting a new chapter in the School’s history and continuing our journey with your support. We value our industry relationships, and the contributions that all our stakeholders and partners make towards the growth of our School through the opportunities you provide is deeply appreciated.

One of these opportunities is a new partnership with WOAH! Studios to deliver our Screen Arts programmes in Henderson this year. This opened up further opportunities for our School strategically located within central-west Auckland, which is increasingly being recognised as the hub of New Zealand’s screen industry. If the recent end of year Screen Arts showcase at The Hollywood is a harbinger of things to come, we have some exciting talent making first-rate screen works. Watch this space for a wider release of these amazing works.

In July, theatre companies Tim Bray Theatre, No.3 Mt Roskill Theatre, and A Slightly Isolated Dog worked with our third year acting cohort to produce successful stage productions performed to thousands across Tāmaki Makaurau. Our second year acting students worked with guest director Cherie Moore on a fantastically well-received production of Boys at Auckland’s Herald Theatre in September. Shane Bosher directed our final year Acting students in a beautiful ‘poor theatre’ production of Our Country’s Good at TAPAC recently. Thousands attended our end of Semester productions, screenings and exhibitions across Tamaki Makaurau in November and we received tremendous feedback.

Our Design and Contemporary Arts team enjoy regular success in the annual Eden Arts Trust Art School Awards (Unitec students Tonina Ngatai and Lucia Nicholson won two of the top four awards this year), NZ Craft Design Awards, and Molly Morpeth Canaday Awards, and work closely with organisations such as Objectspace, Designers Institute of NZ, Datacom, Design Assembly, Auckland Festival of Photography, and Artwalk Auckland. Gradfest 2022 was a highlight in the last week of teaching, with a diverse range of exceptional art and design on display in Building 76.

Unitec Contemporary Dance students continue to be seconded to New Zealand’s top dance companies such as Atamira Dance Company, The New Zealand Dance Company, Footnote Dance Company, and Black Grace, with many returning as fulltime company dancers after graduating. Our second and third year dance cohorts undertook their choreographic showcases at TAPAC in Term 3, and the final year Dance showcase was a particularly dynamic offering supported by choreographers who are all Unitec graduates.

Our kaiako (teachers) are seen as leaders in their industry as well. Lecturer Richard Fahey has a regular podcast on Radio New Zealand updating Aotearoa’s ceramics and pottery art community. Academic Programme Manager Dr Bobby Hung is one of New Zealand’s leading graffiti artists and experts on street art. Screen Arts discipline leaders Daniel Wagner and Larry Justice have both worked on major Hollywood film productions. Acting and theatre history lecturer, Pedro Ilgenfritz is one of Aotearoa’s leading mask trainers for actors and dancers.

Our graduates are highly successful and make up a large percentage of their respective industries as well, as practitioners and administrators. Acting alumnus Ali Foa’i was recently appointed the new principal advisor for Pacific Arts at Creative New Zealand and master’s graduate Lisa Reihana was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Some recent feedback includes:

‘The Unitec Contemporary Dance programme is indeed a crucial and vital element in the expansion of New Zealand's cultural sector…Although dance is often mentioned  in terms as being inaccessible or a  'difficult' art form, after experiencing tonight's performance I would argue that dance is perhaps the most tangible proof of humanity's ability to come together and thrive after years of isolation and separation.’  (audience feedback: 21 Nov 2022)

‘Congratulations to the incredible cast; their vulnerability on that stage today will build a better society’ (audience feedback: 30 Sept 2022).

‘Really enjoyed this! Beyond the wonderful mahi, there was so much aroha from whānau and hoa. Warmth’ (audience feedback: 29 November 2022)

We invite you to our performances, exhibitions and events happening in the School of Creative Industries in 2023 and if you’d like to receive our weekly e-newsletter please sign up here For more info on either, contact Peter Rees:

Lastly, I would love to hear from you if you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can improve, collaborate, and work together. Please don’t hesitate to email me at Vanessa Byrnes:

‘He toi whakairo, he mana tangata’: ‘Where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity’.


Mauri ora

Vanessa Byrnes
Head of School - Creative Industries