Toiroa Williams

Toiroa Williams

Trainee, Native American and Indigenous Film Programme, Sundance Institute, Los Angeles
Master of Arts in Māori Development
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Television and Screen Production

Te Whakatōhea, Ngai Tai and Te Whānau-a-Apanui

You can’t underestimate the importance of education, says Māori development alumnus Toiroa Williams.

“Education is key. I encourage students – especially Māori – to further their education. My studies, for example, have helped me develop the skills to enter the media industry and tell Māori stories that matter to my whānau and myself.

“Growing up in Ōpōtiki, a small town of 4000 people, university wasn’t something that was spoken about every day. I’m the youngest of four in my whānau and the first to continue on to university. That for me is an amazing feat!”

A passion for telling Māori stories
Passionate about media and film, Toiroa came to AUT to enrol in the Bachelor of Communication Studies and then embarked on postgraduate study to learn more about documentary and kaupapa Māori.

“Postgraduate study is a great way to build on my background in communications and television, and explore research related to rangatahi Māori like me from Ōpōtiki. My favourite part of my master’s degree was the personal journey it took me on. I wasn’t only learning about my subject, but also about my culture and self-identity.”

Toiroa says that the lecturers and support staff at AUT have played a pivotal role in his success.

“I credit that not only to the late nights but also to the university’s support network for students, especially Māori students. AUT has a fantastic Māori student support service and an active Māori students’ association, Titahi Ki Tua.”

Behind the scenes at the Sundance Institute
After graduating at the end of last year, Toi is now interning at the Sundance Institute in Los Angeles.

“I was privileged enough to be the first recipient of the AUT Internz International Scholarship to intern at the Sundance Institute in Los Angeles. These prestigious scholarships align AUT students with their relevant industries and professions, both in New Zealand and internationally.”

As a trainee within the Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Film Program, Toi is involved in anything from administration through to script reading and strategic planning.

“I enjoy reading emerging artists’ scripts and understanding how they continued through the Native American and Indigenous Film Program to successfully develop their films. One of the main goals of the programme is to develop the visibility of Native American and Indigenous artists, and supporting indigenous storytelling. This has huge relevance for me and what I want to achieve as an aspiring indigenous filmmaker.”

Last updated: 10-Jan-2018 8.36am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.