It’s no wonder that New Zealand has earned a reputation for creativity. This is the nation that brought to life the film fantasy worlds of Narnia, Middle Earth, and Avatar’s Pandora. Students from around the globe are flocking south to this little country with a hugely successful design and arts sector, and learning how to launch their own creative careers.
Design programmes in New Zealand cover a lot of different areas. Qualifications are available in the fields of graphic design, interior design, fashion design, product design, animation, video game development, video production and post-production, make-up design, creative advertising and many others. Every level from certificates through to doctorates are offered, and the courses include lots of practical experience to build that all important portfolio.
The Adschool at Auckland’s Media Design School has recently been named the world’s fourth best advertising school by the prestigious YoungGuns Awards in the U.S., which recognise the world’s hottest creative talent under the age of thirty. The school also offers New Zealand’s only qualification in game development.
Interactive Gaming senior tutor Steffan Hooper says, “We work them hard while they’re here, but at the end of the day, we believe that the skills, knowledge and work ethic that they gain at Media Design School is what makes our graduates so well-respected in the industry.”
Matthias Reiche from Germany studied 3D Animation at the school, and he agrees that the challenging work was worthwhile.
“We would often work late into the night to get a project finished, bouncing ideas off each other. I think that’s something I appreciate more now that I am working and realise how important a co-operative, supportive environment is,” Matthias says. “My studies enabled me to get my first job in animation. Now I can call myself a 3D Animator and can work pretty much anywhere in the world.”
Shakira Tseng of Taiwan says she was “up for a big adventure” when she decided to study for a Diploma of Multimedia at Natcoll Design Technology.
“I chose Natcoll because it offered a great study environment and the tutors were really friendly and nice,” Shakira says. She also appreciated the industry focus and how the tutors covered such topics as creating a CV and preparing a portfolio. “Before we graduated, Natcoll ran a ‘job seeker’ seminar for us. It was great, a really positive thing to do.”
Shakira returned home to Taiwan and is now a product marketing specialist at Taipei Science Park.
Thi Huong Tong first arrived in New Zealand from Vietnam to attend high school, but ended up staying on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design at Otago Polytechnic.
“I didn’t intend to study in NZ. I thought I’d go to England for my fashion studies, but my homestay mom told me about the course at Otago Polytechnic. We came and took a look and I felt really good because there were lots of practical things happening in the class and that’s what I wanted,” Thi says.
“We learned everything – theory and practical. And they offered us very good experience related to the fashion industry, like helping with fashion shows and working experience in a real workplace. Last term I went up to Auckland and I worked for (top NZ designer) Trelise Cooper. So it was really useful. Everything I dreamed of!”
Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago have collaborated to create the Otago Institute of Design. This facility in the city of Dunedin brings together design students from both institutions to share facilities and benefit from a truly creative atmosphere.
Over in Christchurch Wendy Kim studied Fashion Design at Design & Arts College (D&A) and also appreciated the practical knowledge she gained along with her creative training.
“D&A gave me the advantage of a realistic education. After three years I had a solid base of knowledge that I could take into the industry. I am now working as a Fashion Supplier for Crystal Rivers Collection. We design and prepare apparel and present it to retail stores, while constantly building new relationships and ideas,” Wendy says. She is now working in Sydney, Australia.
There may have been a time in the past when studying in a creative field didn’t lead to much of a career, but these days creativity is very much in demand. From advertising to film to interior design, there are excellent jobs to be found for those with the right skills. Design courses in New Zealand lead to rewarding work offers all over the world. For people with the urge to create and explore, the career opportunities are better than ever. And New Zealand’s practical and reputable courses, along with its amazing landscapes and inspiring surroundings, provide plenty of motivation for every student to excel.
Useful Websites for studying in New Zealand
- General NZ study information: Learn More, Stress Less www.learnmorestressless.com
- Schools & Courses: New Zealand Educated www.newzealandeducated.com
- Visas & Immigration: Immigration New Zealand www.immigration.govt.nz
- Qualifications: NZ Qualifications Authority www.nzqa.govt.nz
Michelle Waitzman, Education New Zealand