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.

The arts learning area comprises four disciplines: dance, drama, music – sound arts, and visual arts. Within each, students develop literacies as they build on skills, knowledge, attitudes, and understandings at each of the eight levels of the curriculum. Through arts practices and the use of traditional and new technologies, students’ artistic ideas are generated and refined through cycles of action and reflection. 

Wairau Intermediate cultural and performance programmes include opportunities for students to develop their skills and express themselves through a variety of art forms including visual arts, music, drama and dance.

Our extra-curricular programme includes opportunities for all students to join a range of performance groups such as Kapa Haka, choir, marimba, and dance groups in a variety of styles.

Visual Art

The Visual Arts programme at Wairau aims to provide all students with the opportunity to express themselves creatively througha wide range of media such as drawing, painting, screen printing, ceramics, construction and printmaking.

By engaging in the visual arts, students learn how to participate in, and celebrate their own and others’ visual worlds. They learn about different artists and develop practical techniques and problem solving skills.

Visual Arts students explore, refine, and communicate their own artistic ideas by responding to how art expresses identity, culture, ethnicity, ideas, feelings, moods, beliefs, political viewpoints, and personal perspectives. Through engaging in the visual arts, students learn how to discern, participate in, and celebrate their own and others' visual worlds.

Visual Arts literacy is developed through creativity and connection, inquiry and production, challenge and invention, and transformation and empowerment. Students create and respond to works using curiosity, collaboration, courage, critical thinking, and creativity. They confidently use iterative and cyclical processes of practising, selecting, reflecting, editing, and refining to create a cohesive and fluent artistic expression or body of work. By learning to identify Visual Arts conventions, students will also understand how these conventions communicate meanings through intention within established practice.


Dance is born out of culture. It reflects its circumstances and evolves as society does. While culture can be interpreted widely, the universal language of dance empowers learners to recognise the increasing diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand and build connections across cultures.

Dance recognises the learner’s whole self, allowing them to connect with who they are by developing confidence, wellbeing, and their own artistic identity. Teachers ensure learners’ access to dance, foster their expression, and give them the skills to communicate and share their culture or cultures. 

Dance encourages the celebration of uniqueness. It enables learners to be comfortable with, and to value, cultures and ideas that are not their own. All ākonga come with their own culture and whakapapa, that can be expressed through movement.

Dance is tightly interwoven with the fabric of society, and nurtures one’s sense of identity. All learners are empowered to explore dance genres or styles they are familiar and connected with (ones that are part of their whakapapa). For example, ākonga in Aotearoa New Zealand are able to access and benefit from mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori. 

Dance also provides space for ākonga to engage with unfamiliar dance forms, such as new styles and cultures, new ideas, and new experiences.


Music is a fundamental form of expression. At Wairau we provide appropriate instruments that minimise technical obstacles, therefore allowing students to work individually and collaboratively to explore the potential of sounds to create, interpret, and represent musical ideas.

By making, sharing, and responding to music, students contribute to the cultural life of our school, their whānau, peer groups, and the community. While students are learning to communicate with increasing sophistication through music, they are furthering their own creative potential while laying a foundation for lifelong enjoyment of, and participation in music.


During their two years in the drama class, students will have opportunities to work with others to develop creative ideas using drama elements, conventions and techniques.

They will be able to initiate and refine ideas with others to plan and develop drama. As part of the drama class, students will be able to use some dance elements to develop and share a personal movement vocabulary.

The aims of the drama curriculum are: 

• to enable the child to become drama literate 

• to enable the child to create a permanent bridge between make-believe play and the art form of theatre 

• to develop the child’s ability to enter physically, emotionally and intellectually into the drama world in order to promote questing, empowering and empathetic skills 

• to enable the child to develop the social skills necessary to engage openly, honestly and playfully with others 

• to enable the child to co-operate and communicate with others in solving problems in the drama and through the drama 

• to enable the child to understand the structures and modes of drama and how they create links between play, thought and life 

• to enable the child to acquire this knowledge of drama through the active exploration of themes drawn from life (past and present), whether they have their source in other curriculum areas or in general areas relevant to the child’s life 

• to enable the child to begin the process of translating a knowledge of drama into the active exploration of life themes from drama literature, leading to the appreciation of world drama culture 

• to form the criteria with which to evaluate the drama texts, written or performed, to which he/she is continually exposed