Toi Ora offers over 20 visual and performing arts classes, each led by a professional arts tutor. Toi Ora tutors work to build a supportive environment where you can learn and grow at a pace that feels comfortable. Our tutors can help you gain or fine-tune skills while supporting your wellbeing through the creative process.
Get to know some of our incredible tutors.
Karlin Morrison Raju (he/him)
Karlin was born and raised in Auckland. He attended ELAM School of Fine Arts from 2015-2018 and has a background in illustration, painting, and printmaking. Highly influenced by the Cubist and Futurist movements, he has exhibited in a variety of shows with fellow artist collectives and university exhibitions.
Karlin joined Toi Ora over a year ago and loves coming in, seeing people really making an effort, and getting into it at the Grey Lynn studio. When asked what makes the magic happen in his Toi Ora printmaking class, Karlin says, “I see the class as more of a collaborative space for expression and experimentation. That is where magic can happen. Having fun with the process, chatting with our peers, and problem solving, are what bring the rush of the studio!”
Karlin doesn’t just support people in his classes to build wellbeing through creativity, he says art plays a massive role in his own life. “I need to be creating to stay healthy mentally. It’s very important to my wellbeing.”
Rangimarie McDowell (she/her)
Rangimarie McDowell (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Scottish, Welsh and Pākeha) is a graduate of a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Unitec, has worked at numerous community hubs as an arts tutor, and has attended many wānanga to evolve as an artist. Rangimarie has four tamariki, and can be found in the Taiao (out in Nature) most weekends.
With a passion for Kaupapa Māori Initiatives and contributing to the community through the Arts, Rangimarie has worked at different community centres across Auckland to tutor art to children and adults with learning difficulties. She also managed Kura Gallery in downtown Auckland for 5 years before coming to Toi Ora.
She developed her signature art class at Toi Ora named ‘Toi Hono.’ Toi Hono literally translates to Art Connectivity/Togetherness and was first offered through Toi Ora at Manawanui Marae for Tangata Whai I te ora. This embodied everything Rangimarie wanted to create for Māori and for Māori Art. Toi Hono is open to anyone who has an interest in Te Ao Māori (Māori world view).
“Art is a Rongoa (healing tool) for me, art is a way to gently allow others into the Māori world, it’s a way to create a pathway to recognise that we are not polemic, we are just as we are. If I can create a space where I can support another to be comfortable in who they are and express that, then my ngākau (heart) feels as if I am absolutely doing what I was born to do.”
James Watson (he/him)
James is a talented fine artist, printmaker, and illustrator such as is seen in his works such as the Mandalorian illustration, his tremendously detailed illustrations of Hollywood directors and actors, and in his Microscapes drypoint intaglio.
As a tutor, James is known for building fantastic photography curriculum arcs peppered with excursions and field trips throughout the term. This includes trips for guided tours of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki amongst others.
For the past few years, we had the pleasure of hosting the Toi Ora Photography Exhibition as part of the Auckland Photography Festival thanks to James’ work building partnerships. These have been particularly impressive exhibitions.
No doubt James’ passion for going above and beyond as a tutor comes from being able to share what he has learned through his journey for his own wellbeing through artistic pursuits.
Bronson Price aka Melodownz
Bronson Price aka Melodownz (Ngāpuhi, Samoan, and Pākehā) is a New Zealand MC, rapper and urban poet. He has two studio albums and four extended release albums including: Beginners Luck, 3P, Avontales, High Beams, Melo & Blues, and Lone Wolf.
He’s been a tutor at Toi Ora now for over a decade. He builds an incredible environment in his classes and inspires you to try something new, believe in yourself, and let your talents blossom. His classes create a space where people can show up authentically, connect with other people, and feel a sense of belonging.
Scientifically, we know that music heals and that creativity is a powerful tool for wellbeing. Bronson’s classes are where you can see that in action. He’s got a busy music career and family life and still goes above and beyond to create opportunities like visiting renowned recording studios or bringing the Wolves of Avondale photography exhibition to the Toi Ora Gallery.
Andre Medland-Parker (he/him)
Advanced Arts Seminar
Andre Medland-Parker is a graduate of the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) with a Bachelors of Visual Arts. During his studies, he specialised in oil painting & music/sound recording. Andre has a home studio where he works on his creative practices.
Andre has a Level 4 Mental Health Certification for Health and Wellbeing from Unitec. He is interested in exploring the relationship between wellbeing and creativity.
Andre is the Artist Liaison for Toi Ora, inducting new participants and connecting artists with opportunities in the community. He also runs Toi Ora’s gallery hand apprenticeship for artists who want to learn more.
In 2024, Andre will be running Toi Ora’s Advanced Arts Seminar, helping artists learn more about how to prepare their work for commercial sale and advancing their careers as artists.
Daniel Larsen Barr (he/him)
Poetry & Writing
Daniel Larsen-Barr (Ngāti Apakura) received a Bachelors of Art from the University of Auckland also worked in writing television subtitles for the hearing impaired and went on to perform around the country and overseas.
Daniel has been teaching creative writing at Toi Ora for over a decade in Tāmaki Makaurau. His classes explore how to be inspired by other texts while making work that is uniquely your own.
Daniel works with each person in his class on developing their work for exhibition or publication when they feel ready. This includes being able to do a public reading of the piece at an opening.
Daniel is known for providing the type of insightful feedback that helps take a writer to the next level without shaking their confidence.
Ekaterina Dimieva (she/her)
E.K. started at Toi Ora in 2021 and now teaches the Painting Now class for advanced painters on Monday mornings, the Abstract Painting class on Monday afternoons, and the Faces and Figure Drawing class on Wednesday mornings.
EK is an abstract artist based in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland. She completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at Elam in 2020 and has been exhibiting nation-wide since.
She was a finalist in the Estuary Art & Ecology Awards two years in a row, and was a finalist in the National Contemporary Art Awards 2022 and the Molly Morpeth Canaday Awards in 2021. EK is originally from Bulgaria and moved to New Zealand in 2001.
EK has a subtle and quiet warmth to every interaction in the studio that helps build towards the safe and inclusive environment in her classes. Artists who take her class consistently see growth in their artistic endeavours, as well as in their mental wellbeing.