Values-based education in the Te Pūkenga Conservatory: Successful actor training at Unitec (Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand)

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Byrnes, Vanessa
Miller, Michael
Whitham, Alexandra
Wallace, Will
Hawthorne, Elizabeth
Ilgenfritz, Pedro
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
actor training
Unitec courses
creative arts education
Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE)
Te Pūkenga (Technical institute)
Byrnes, V., Miller, M., Whitham, AC., Wallace, W., Hawthorne, E., & Ilgenfritz, P. (2022, December 8-9). Values-based education in the Te Pūkenga Conservatory: Successful actor training at Unitec (Auckland, Aotearoa). [Paper presentation]. Rangahau: Te Mana o te Mahi Kotahitanga: Research: The Power of Collaboration, MIT-Unitec Research Symposium 2022, Te Pūkenga, New Zealand
‘He toi whakairo, he mana tangata’: ‘Where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity’. Aotearoa / New Zealand is a small country that creates a disproportionately large amount of creative content and talent for its population, but funding metrics and educational design are changing rapidly. There are currently only two three-year professional actor training degree programmes in the country. Our programme at Unitec has a successful legacy of more than thirty years of professional actor education, but as part of Te Pūkenga the programme has recently faced particular swathes of challenge that clash with the very core of conservatory-based andragogy as first positioned by Michel St-Denis. Our understanding of ‘best practice’ education frameworks for Actor Training is being challenged and is evolving. As a reflective case study, this paper offers an analysis of the need for values- based, sustainable, culturally-responsive, long-term frameworks that are equipped with the relative design and resources that support successful professional actor education. It is also an attempt to positively meet the current challenge points to advance the dynamic story of our whakapapa. Actor training is familiar with setback, given that it is essentially inducing acts of disruption where cardinal points of obstacle are encountered, met, and overcome. Our kōrero is underpinned by the values of Te Noho Kotahitanga and the opportunities for Actor training. This paper reflects on positive and negative impact of changes implemented by RoVE, not the least of which is towards a more instrumental view of teaching and learning that disregards the social value of teaching arts to the detriment of a more utilitarian, accessible, and equitable view of tertiary education.
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