Why Toi Ora?
He oranga ngākau, he pikinga waioras. Positive feelings in the heart lift wellbeing.
Toi Ora is an award-winning community arts trust providing a creative practice and learning opportunities for people experiencing mental distress, addiction, or brain injury. We provide participatory arts programmes. We are dedicated to empowering individuals to create works that hold personal significance for them and foster exploration, development, and the continual expansion of their skills. Our gallery space hosts exhibitions for the public to appreciate our artists’ work.
Toi Ora applies the science-backed steps to building wellbeing through the creative process. Te Whare Tapa Whā and the Five Ways of Wellbeing provide the foundation of our philosophy. Toi Ora was founded by people with the lived experience of mental health challenges and we continue to value the importance of being able to empathise whether it is through lived experience, or experience supporting a loved one or skills gained in other ways.
Artists come to Toi Ora because they want to be here. Most light up when they walk through the door. Our tutors facilitate the creative process to foster self-determination and encourage artists to sets their artistic and wellbeing goals. The creative and wellbeing process is a deeply personal one and each artist sets the tone and the pace that is comfortable for them. This process is reflected in the variety of art created at Toi Ora.
Registration enables people to access our classes and workshops free of charge. Toi Ora staff and tutors are trained in emotional first aid. They create a supportive environment and offer suggestions while imparting professional skills with words of encouragement.
Free arts classes
Years of Toi Ora
– artists find inspiration and meaning in their work and set their own pace & goals
– we learn from each other in supportive environment with dignity & respect for the self and others.
Safety with an open heart
– compassion and safety supports our decision making
– of arts practices, people, cultures and their expression
– adapting to opportunities and challenges
– is non judgemental, reflective and making best use of resources
What our artists are saying
“In my job and my family, it was all about being the best, having to stand out, make money, be beautiful, fit or whatever. At Toi Ora I am not battling to be accepted, I can just be myself. My paintings don’t need to be perfect to be good and I have been able to incorporate this concept into the rest of my life.”
– Marcia, Freemans Bay
“Not working means I am limited socially. It has really helped with my mental health to realise I am a part of something. Years ago I felt I was not a part of society and society hated me. I don’t feel that way anymore.”
– Ben, Grey Lynn
our Free classes
Once you walk through the front door here, you become a Toi Ora Artist. Our experienced tutors guide, inspire, suggest, and encourage Toi Ora Artists to express their own creative vision. It’s a safe and supportive environment to be yourself, where you are at today.