Our school

Learn about the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī’s history, mission, research strengths, teaching staff, and alumni.

The New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī (NZSM), Victoria University of Wellington, has the breadth and depth of music study available nowhere else in New Zealand.

NZSM is situated in Wellington, the arts capital of New Zealand, and we offer the highest standards of excellence in professional music fields (including classical performance, composition, jazz, music therapy, musicology, and ethnomusicology), and bring an international standard of music education to New Zealanders.

The New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī is led by Prof Sally Jane Norman.

Our history

New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī (NZSM) is part of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. From 2006 until 2014, NZSM was a joint venture of Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington, drawing upon the long history of music education provided by the Victoria University of Wellington Music Department and Massey Conservatorium of Music.

Our Māori name—Te Kōkī

Our Māori name, Te Kōkī, is most simply translated as the 'dawn chorus'. A feature of early Aotearoa New Zealand was a vocal and melodic dawn chorus produced by an abundance of native birds that dwelt within its dense forests. To Māori, the birds are te reo o Tāne, the voice of the God of the Forest, and from whom many instruments are also fashioned.

Traditionally, Māori musicians listened daily to te kōkī, drawing inspiration from its cadences, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. The name Te Kōkī thus embodies Māori music learning in Aotearoa, and, in response to a request, was given to the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī to provide it with a distinctive 'Aotearoa New Zealand' identity.

Our mission

At the establishment of NZSM, the two shareholding universities set out our mission, to be New Zealand’s pre-eminent provider of university-level music education, research, composition, and performance.

To achieve this mission, NZSM has identified three goals:

  • To attract the elite of students in New Zealand and excellent students from overseas.
  • To achieve international recognition for the quality of its teaching, research composition, and performance.
  • To contribute significantly to the nation’s cultural life, particularly in Wellington, through providing widely inclusive music education and a strong community outreach programme, and by working cooperatively with other arts organisations.

Our research strengths

Research is a thriving part of the School and brings students, staff, academics, and visiting artists together. Projects provide the creative vehicle to experiment, reflect, and explore fundamental questions, which inform our practice as music professionals.

Our teaching staff

Our distinguished staff are professionally renowned and active in both New Zealand and abroad. They train our students to an international standard of excellence that is unparalleled in New Zealand.

Our alumni

Our alumni are highly regarded and actively contribute to the national music community both as musicians and cultural leaders.