A network of drama teachers which had begun with the bringing together of many teachers during the 1978 visit of Dorothy Heathcote was strengthened by the establishment of the Drama Newsletter in 1979. The current owner of the highly successful Women’s Bookshop in Auckland, and former Auckland Girls’ Grammar School Teacher, Carole Beu Barrington (as she was known) established this newsletter.
Subsequently some teachers travelled to Britain, with the assistance of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, the Education Department or the British Council to work for extended periods with Dorothy Heathcote and other British drama educators such as Gavin Bolton. A curriculum working group was also established in New Zealand. Most of those teachers have had a significant role to play in the formation of the association including; Carole Beu, Sunny Amey, Kathryn Whillans, Don McAra, Sally Markham, Ralph McAllister, Kerry Harvey, and Jill Burdett.
It was 1984 in Sunny Amey's; the then Education Officer (Curriculum for Drama) with the Ministry of Education at the Kohia Teachers Centre on the Auckland Teachers College Campus that NZADIE, the New Zealand Association of Drama in Education, now known as Drama New Zealand, was formed and strong district networks were established.
Course development in drama during the 1980’s focussed on third and fourth forms, (thirteen and fourteen year olds) within individual schools and sixth form certificate (sixteen and seventeen year olds) within individual schools as well as at a national level. Primary and Early Childhood educators devised their own courses, bringing drama into a programme often under the umbrella of language, art or social studies as part of a theme or experiential approach. Numbers of teachers experimented with role work during this period.
No formal qualifications were required to teach the courses and teachers approached the subject from dance, improvisation, speech and drama, and personal relationship course perspectives. This situation still existed into the 1990’s.
Many developments followed
- Advisors in drama were spasmodically appointed during the 1980’s in response to local demands and whilst there were no inspectors of drama in the Department, many English inspectors supported drama initiatives throughout the country by establishing short courses for teachers.
- Secondary resource development continued to take place through the working group, all of whom by this stage were members of NZADIE and many were represented on its National Executive.
- In 1987 Draft Guidelines were developed for Sixth Form Certificate Drama; a university entrance qualification. At the same time a major resource, related to an exploration of works of New Zealand literature through drama, was developed and eventually distributed free to all secondary schools. This resource, which was called Drama and Learning, supported the National English Syllabus for Forms 3-5 and it represented a significant attempt to get the ‘ordinary’ classroom teacher to use various drama approaches to learning.
- The seminal joint drama Conference with NADIE, the Australian National Association for Drama in Education was held early in 1989 titled Making Connections. Contact with NADIE had been strengthened by frequent visits from Australians to our drama conferences. A further sign of the closeness of the relationship with the Australians at this time was the publication of a joint magazine in 1987 under the editorial initiative of Megan Shaffner in Australia and Kerry Harvey (the current Principal Adviser at New Zealand’s Ministry for Culture and Heritage) and Sally Markham (former director of Markham Arts) in New Zealand.
- Distribution of the magazine throughout Australasia further increased the profile of the Association and drama in New Zealand as did the publication which followed the joint conference. Since that time our members have continued to be regularly published in NJ, the Drama Australia journal.
In 1989 the new Ministry of Education replaced the old restructured Department of Education. Thereafter the emphasis shifted onto the creation of advisers who became attached to Colleges of Education.
2005 - 2013
At the Inaugural AGM at the National Confernece at Wellington Girls in April 2005 the association was rebranded as Drama New Zealand, with a new logo and website.
In 2012 Drama NZ signed an official Memorandum of Understanding with Drama Australia.
Amey, S (2009) Contribution to Panel at Weaving Our Stories. International Mantle of the Expert Conference August 2009, University of Waikato, Hamilton
Battye, S (2005) Keynote Address, Drama NZ National Conference 2005, Wellington