Arts and Culture

Papanui High School offers a busy co-curricular calendar. The Arts are no exception, with active engagement across a broad range of events encouraged and supported by a skilled team of staff. 

The Arts also offer school wide opportunities for involvement, with a major school production taking place each year. Either as a Musical or Showquest, these events occur in concurrent years and each involve students working across all aspects of the shows - performing, stage management, costume, make-up, sound & lighting and production. 

The school employs a dedicated Arts Coordinator to support teaching staff in enabling a full co-curricular calendar. The Co-ordinator works alongside the school’s highly skilled Arts Teaching Team to deliver a programme of competitions, tours, shows, concerts and activities. Please view the list below for a snapshot of the range in a typical year at PHS.

Performing Arts


The Papanui Dance Department is a vibrant and dynamic department. It offers opportunities for students to flex their creative dance muscles beyond the curriculum by providing a range of co-curricular platforms. This list represents a typical sample of the performance opportunities available most years.

Showquest - At PHS we aim to enter this event bi-annually with a team of students who create, produce and perform an original theatrical production consisting of student-designed and created content. This is presented in a choreographed, themed mini-spectacular. Showquest is an exciting and popular event involving a large number of students from across all arts disciplines in the school. Showquest is open to all schools and is a regional event.


School Musical - The School presents a Musical Stage production bi-annually, all arts departments are involved including dance. The musical presents a fantastic opportunity for all our students to experience presenting a musical in all its complexities.


Infinite - This is the Dance Department’s annual premier event and typically spans three nights. It is usually held in Week 6, Term 3 in the School Hall. This is an important assessment event, as well as being an opportunity for the wider community to view the incredible work being created within the Dance Dept. at PHS.


Intermediate Tours - Performance groups represent PHS in a tour of local Intermediate Schools. This is a full-day event where the Dance & Music Departments tour 3 to 4 schools and showcase our talented pool of students.


Competitions - Competition entries vary from year to year and are dependent on their suitability in any given year. A typical year would see students entering or being invited to - NZCAF Hip Hop, Christchurch competition society, JT Dancers, CTDTA Competitions. The YMCA  - Y Factor (invitation only, PHS has been invited 3 times so far). These competitions typically have a regional then national component, the school endeavours to support competing at a national level.


The Papanui High School Music Department strives to offer as many performance opportunities as possible, across a wide range of music genres. We support a number of groups ranging from our largest, the Concert Band, through to smaller ensembles such as the Jazz Combo and Flute Ensemble and many solo performers. Listed below is a representative sample of the types of groups and activities undertaken in the department annually.

Band Camp - Band Camp is an annual event that is held at the Hanmer Springs Forest Park. It is designed to kickstart the music year by providing a weekend of intensive rehearsals and music classes

Chapel Concert - This is held in the Chapel Street Centre in Harewood Rd. A wide range of music groups perform in the chapel, presenting a smorgasbord of acts. The concert is a public event and typically attended by families of the performers, members of the congregation and residents of the Golden Age Retirement Village.

Courtyard Concert - Held 1 to 2 times a year, in the music department courtyard. This concert is designed to give students involved in a variety of music groups, both large and small, the chance to perform to a live audience. It is a relaxed event held early evening and designed to give staff, parents and the wider PHS community an opportunity to enjoy some musical entertainment.

Music Tours (National & International) - The Music Department focuses on travelling to areas in New Zealand/Aotearoa that are ‘off the beaten track’. The tours have two purposes, the first is to give our students real-life experiences in performing/gigging, as this mirrors the reality of life for most musicians. We also want to promote music to schools that may not have the resources to support the number of Bands/Acts that PHS has. Every five years we aim to include an International Tour in the school programme.

NZSSSO (National) - The New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra course is a national course held annually in Christchurch. Papanui High School typically has between 1 and 4 students accepted per annum.

Intermediate Schools Tour - Performance groups represent PHS in a tour of local Intermediate Schools. This is a full day event where the Dance & Music Departments tour 3 to 4 schools and showcase our talented pool of students.

Soiree - Soiree is the biggest concert event of the year for the Music Department. The concert provides an opportunity for the community to enjoy a representative sample of all the school’s various music groups and soloists.

ChCh Big Band Festival (Jazz) - A fun weekend of Jazz in the CBD, held annually at Labour Weekend.

Voices - Combined Ch.Ch choirs gather for workshops, combined singing and a concert.


Jazz Quest (ARA Regional Competition) - Jazz competition organised by ARA Institute of Canterbury. Both our Jazz Band & Jazz Combos regularly receive Gold placing in this annual competition.

Southern Jam (South Island Regional) - South Island Jazz competition held annually in Blenheim. This is a five-day celebration of Jazz with groups from all over the South Island attending. Students perform in local cafes, schools and clubs. It is also a competition with a Gala Concert held at the ASB Theatre Marlborough. PHS regularly receive Gold placings in this event.

Big Bang Percussion Competition (Regional) - This is an annual competition held in Christchurch for percussion ensembles.

Chamber Music Competition (Regional and National) - This is the premier chamber music event of the year and is highly competitive. In 2015 two of our students made it to the finals, held in the Wellington Town Hall as part of the combined Quartet ‘Papricca’ which featured two students from Riccarton High School. This Saxophone Quartet won the People's Choice Award.

Wind Festival (Regional Competition) - Celebrating Concert Bands in the Canterbury region.

Big Sing (Regional & National) - Annual choral competition.

Smoke-Free Rockquest - A long-running competition popular with aspiring rock musicians.


The Drama Department is always looking for new and creative ways to encourage students to flex their performance muscles. Co-curricular activities are encouraged and actively engaged in by students. 

Theatresports in Schools - Both our Senior and Junior Theatresports teams enter this competition with great success. Theatresports is a fun, lively and popular activity in the department.


School Musical - The School presents a Musical Stage production bi-annually, all arts departments. The musical presents a fantastic opportunity for all our students to experience presenting a musical in all its complexities.


Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival - Celebrating the legacy of Shakespeare through the performance of 5-15 minute scenes chosen, devised and presented by students.


Feast of Funnies Dinner Theatre - Devised and presented by students this event is run in conjunction with our Catering Department. 


Student Lead Initiatives - 'Skits and Giggles' is a student-led initiative to encourage students to perform - whether it be a standup routine, a skit they've practised, or some theatresports. 


Drama Club -  Student-run weekly lunchtime group of students keen to explore drama ideas & activities.

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department actively engages in co-curricular activities through trips to galleries, entry to national competitions, trips to tertiary institutions and a range of extra-curricular activities managed by the Visual Arts Council. The department actively engages with the local community through the creation of commissioned murals, involvement in community art projects like Polyphony and the promotion of student work through display in public spaces. 

Visual Arts Council ([email protected], @phs.visualarts) - the Visual Arts Council meets fortnightly and runs various activities and events within the Art Department.

Art Competitions/Exhibitions

Waitakere Art Awards – Trusts Art Awards (Sept/Oct each year)

Creators Room About Sept each year)

ZAFAA Awards ( Nov-March, spans new year)

Waikato Society of Arts, National Youth Art Awards ( July each year)

Canterbury Y13 Art Awards (Sept each year)

Polyphony (Varies)

Wallace Secondary School Art Awards 


Wellington Art Trip

Gallery Group

Community Projects

Murals (both underway & completed) - Aratupu, Bishopdale, Papanui Bridgestone Reserve

Design work - logo and branding for Canterbury Justices of the Peace 100th Anniv. (2017/18)

Annual Event

Snr Art Exhibition & Art Auction  resulting in artworks in community - eg WINZ

Permanent Art Collection

The department selects three Year 12 student works annually to become part of the School’s Permanent Collection. These works are framed and displayed throughout the school. This is an ongoing project and its tenth anniversary was celebrated in 2017 with the publication of a commemorative book and set of cards.



All students at Papanui High are invited to take part in the Polyfest group each year. Although the content of this is based around Pacific Island song, dance and values Papanui prides itself on the inclusiveness of all cultures joining in.  This performance opportunity is run by SPACPAC Canterbury and is usually held in the second week of March, at an outdoor venue. The day is filled with Pasifika entertainment, food and products.  Students rehearse at lunchtimes and after school as well as attend a weekend intensive. The students have the opportunity to perform at a Fia Fia night in the school hall 3 days prior to the Polyfest.