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Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School
Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School logo

NZ Diploma in Scenic Construction and Properties

This course is available


Level of Study



2 years

Next start date

Expected Jul 2023


Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School


Toi Whakaari Set & Props is a two-year practical course leading to The New Zealand Diploma in Scenic Construction & Properties. We are the school’s ‘makers’. We construct, sculpt, carve, mould, cast, paint, engineer, laser-cut and 3D-print. In recent years this has included constructing a full-scale spacecraft interior and a four-metre-tall moa. We work closely with Toi’s other departments, enabling the collaboration required to succeed in the stage and screen industries. We have a close relationship with leading industry practitioners, who work as guest tutors. They also provide work placements and mentor our students’ personal projects. Students graduate from this course with a wide range of skills. They can manage construction processes, work as part of a team and meet deadlines – as independent contractors or industry-ready employees.

Course Information

The diploma is an intensive, full?time two-year course for up to eight students a year. Students collaborate with designers, costumiers, actors, filmmakers and directors to create major stage and screen productions, with an emphasis on work from Aotearoa and the Pacific.

First-year students have four terms of craft skills classes.

Term 1: Carpentry, props making and painting.

Term 2: Sculpting, carving, moulding and casting

Term 3: Computer-aided design and manufacture, including laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D printers. 2D to 3D pattern-making techniques and fast prototyping projects with EVA foam.

Term 4: A major build for a theatre production. Advanced carpentry and welding.

Classes for first year students are interspersed with work on larger projects, such as building and painting sets and making props and scale models for film and theatre.

Second-year students choose lead production roles on school productions to develop their specialist areas of interest. They also select two industry internships with professionals.

These enable students to participate in a professional environment as well as build contacts for future employment.

A major focus of the second year is to create a ‘major work’. This is an independent research project that allows students to explore a specialist skill. Past examples have included camera-quality scale model miniatures, ‘hero’ prop swords, and an eco-friendly football table.

Career Pathways

Possible occupations that Sets & Props can enter include:

  • Set or Scenic Carpenter
  • Scenic Welder/Metal Fabricator
  • Scenic Artist/Paint Special Effects
  • Props Maker
  • Scenic Sculptor
  • Film Art Department – Offset and Stand-by
  • Exhibition and Event Display
  • Property Construction and Finishing
  • Model Maker
  • Soft Prop and Costume Prop Maker
  • Visual Effects and Prosthetic Special Effects
  • Puppet Maker
  • Prototyping for Industrial Design

Entry criteria

Students must be at least 18 years by the first day of the first term of the course. There is no upper age limit.

English Language Proficiency

IELTS test – Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5

TOEFL Internet based test (iBT) - Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)

NZCEL - Level 4 with the Academic endorsement

Pearson Test of English (Academic) – PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score less than 42

Language Cert - C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill

Trinity ISE - ISE II with no less than distinction in any band

OET – Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all subtests

Cambridge English Qualifications - B2 First or B2 First for schools, or C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill

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