Login to Drama NZ

Lost your password? (close)
Create, Communicate, Educate

Presidents Award

In 2015 the Drama New Zealand National Executive instigated a new initiative; The Drama New Zealand Presidents Award.

The Drama New Zealand Presidents Award is to be given to a person who has had:

** This person may not be eligible for a Life Membership to the Association.

The 2017 Drama New Zealand President's Award recipient

Evelyn Mann presented by Drama New Zealand President Emma Bishop at 'All Aboard' - 2017 National Conference Opening, Otago Boys High School, DUNEDIN

Evelyn is an incredibly insightful, passionate and dynamic woman. Her vibrancy and positivity are infectious and she inspires all those with whom she works, to strive for, and deliver, their very best. Evelyn empowers others to go forward through her generosity of spirit and the giving of her gifts. She is a “hands on” practitioner who is not afraid to explore new pathways and take people on a gentle journey of discovery. Evelyn is a treasure and her skills and talents have enriched the lives of many, no matter their age or ability. Her company is aptly named “Dramaworkz” and, in Evelyn’s expert hands, it does! Her interest in drama came from her work in Early Years education and developed through years with Playcentre then in formal study.  She has worked with researchers, teachers, students, in advisory roles to champion the arts and continues to this day.


One local teacher in Evelyn's drama workshops stated she was always impressed with how she was able to help people who were nervous about drama in education comfortable with it and receptive. She is skilled at connecting with people in a way that makes drama accessible. Within her work with Dramaworx she has continued this work with individual schools. Her work with ATCO and Sexwise has taken her into creating social justice and improving children's health, relationships and wellbeing through applied drama. She has gained accolades within Applied Theatre circles and also within the sexual health sphere.

Evelyn spent many years delivering the “Everyday Theatre” programme for Applied Theatre Consultants Ltd under the ownership of Peter and Briar O’Connor.  She was instrumental in the development of this programme which has received international acclaim and talked about in many a research article. Peter O’Connor was thrilled when she joined the Everyday Theatre team, who toured the length of the country working on the issues of family violence and child abuse.  He says,

Evelyn is a wonderful teacher.  If you want to see an expert in teacher in role, Evelyn is a star. And she is a pretty good boogie board surfer too after a few summers working in the Far North.  She is a passionate advocate for drama education and  even more importantly for young people.   I am so delighted that her life long devotion to our art form has been recognised.

Kia kaha, kia manawanui, nga mihi aroha a koe Southern Mann.

Another Everyday theatre colleague, Stephen Dallow, described her as one of the hardest working practioners he has ever had the pleasure of working with. Evelyn, he says, lived and breathed applied theatre and was always refining and evaluating her practice.  But his fondest memories are outside of the classroom, on tour for months on end in the motels and B&b’s in the most beautiful parts of New Zealand, sharing a glass of wine at the end of the day, re capping on the school of the day and laughing at the characters they had met on their journey.  Stephen is delighted to hear of this award today and sends a huge “Terminator Tane” hug to her!

Gareth McMillan worked extensively with Evelyn on Sexwise, a health promotion programme for rangatahi/youth throughout Aotearoa.  Evelyn became the Artistic Director of Sexwise in 2011, and was responsible for transforming the programme in accordance with the pedagogy she mastered while working for the Applied Theatre Consultants Ltd (ATCo), and her own company Dramaworkz. McMillan explains:

The transformation was stark; Evelyn's Sexwise is recognised by the health promotion sector, and the hundreds of education providers that have hosted the programme, as a catalyst supporting young people to experience healthier sexuality.  'Infotainment' and any message based methods of previous Sexwise programmes were replaced with a narrative designed to enable student lead discussion of the sexuality issues they face. Evelyn is a passionate advocate for a wellbeing approach and avoids the deficit model sometimes presented to students.

Through her work with Sexwise she has not only made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young people but enabled Teachers, student whānau, and school communities to experience the transformative possibilities of applied theatre.   Following professional external review, cultural advisory groups and extensive networking, Sexwise under Evelyn has become a pivotal cog in the field of sexual health promotion in New Zealand and highly regarded by the Ministry of Health. She is a cutting edge leader not just in the field of applied theatre but also in the health sector, working for the Southern DHB and serving on professional bodies including Promoters Advocating Sexual Health Aotearoa New Zealand (PASHANZ), and The New Zealand Sexual Health Society (NZSHS).

Evelyn has also contributed greatly to drama in the South Otago community as a director, actor, writer and committee member for South Otago Theatrical Society and Taieri Dramatic Society. A strong advocate for NZ theatre in small community theatres, she also contributed to community events, such as organising a street parade in Balclutha with up to 1000 school children on the road moving large artworks/masks etc celebrating the history of the region in order to commemorate the 150th (I think) of Otago.  She also created, directed and championed wearable arts shows for Rural Women's Week in South Otago.   Evelyn took drama to local schools as a private contractor with “Millie“ which was a Teacher In Role to explore bullying and other social development needs for schools.

The 2016 Drama New Zealand President's Award recipient

chrsitineChristine Morgan presented by Drama New Zealand President Emma Bishop at 'Meet me at the River' - 2016 National Conference, St Patrick's College, Silverstream, WELLINGTON

This years receipent has been a part of the Arts community of New Zealand for a number of years and is a well-known face and contributor to both Drama NZ and Dance New Zealand.

She began as a teacher in Northland and went on to be an Arts Advisor in the region until these roles were disestablished.  However, since this time she has continued as an advisor in an informally capacity both within her own region and through NZ.

She is a guru when it comes to NCEA – having been a huge part of the writing of standards, creation of resources and the realignments.  Even though she is no longer an advisor we on DramaNet always know that her advice is all knowing and to be listened too…..

I first meet this person when I was a second year teacher with first contract for Dance with NZQA.  At this time she was working in both the dance and drama area.  She often used to arrive at meetings with her own printer….always helpful and thinking further than what was the obvious.   Her contributions to discussions are always well considered and look at multiple perspectives and challenge our thinking.

She is very loyal to DNZ and worked very hard in many capacities over the years to support the organisation and the people in it. She has served the association for a number of years as an exec member, regional rep, publications officer and from 2012-2013 was our National President.  She has also represented the association at overseas conferences including Hong Kong in 2012.

So this is a much deserved award recognising the years of service to drama in education in NZ. I would like you to put your hands together for the 2016 Presidents award recipient Christine Morgan.

The 2015 Drama New Zealand President's Award recipient

KathrynKathryn Whillans presented by Drama New Zealand President Emma Bishop at 'Invigorate' - 2015 National Conference, Saint Kentigern College, AUCKLAND

This evenings award recipient left school and learnt shorthand so she could try out a few ‘normal’ jobs – accountant’s clerk was one- but she decided there had to be more.

She travelled to England and had the pleasure of working with Dorothy Heathcote for a year before returning to NZ to teach taking up an HOD’s position in Drama at a local Secondary school.

She became part one of the first curriculum working group that was established in New Zealand which was later to become the New Zealand Association for Drama in Education or commonly known as NZADIE. She was a Drama NZ executive member and acted as Treasurer for 10years

This person was a significant contributor to the Drama course development during the 1980’s which first focused 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. She was one of the advisory writers of 6th certificate and then went onto be a leader within the process of creating unit standards then onto NCEA.

From the onset the person’s influence was in the background as a contractor to NZQA where for years she acted in a number of roles.

As an amazing mentor to many with many of her own students now being Drama teachers themselves, Glenfield College wrote on her retirement last year after 35years of service

“The Legend, that is Kathryn Whillans is retiring at the end of this year after over 35 years of dedicated service to Glenfield College and Drama education nationally. Former students also remembered their involvement with the drama department and the effect Kathryn had on their lives. “

I remember first meeting this person in my first year of teaching at a Kohia course, where she shared her ideas freely. I always found this person to be willing to mentor and guide and on a personal note I thank her for her on-going encouragement support and guidance and belief in me.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I present the 2015 Inaugural Presidents Award to Kathryn Whillans.