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Level 6 visual arts achievement objectives

The four strands work in combination. Together they provide the basis for a rich programme of visual arts teaching and learning that weaves together research, analysis, development, production, viewing, and interpreting art works.

A particular sequence of learning may prioritise one or two strands, but it is likely that objectives from other strands will also be met through this learning.

The strands are separated here simply as a way of helping you to unpack the language of the stands and their objectives at this level.

Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

For any terminology used in the achievement objectives, or the indicators, check (and download) the Arts Online – Visual Arts Glossary.

Understanding the visual arts in context (UC)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • investigate and analyse the relationship between the production of art works and the contexts in which they were made, viewed, and valued
  • consider and reflect on contexts underlying their own and others' work.


  • Identifies particular examples within art works that show the impact of a time, place, or culture on how and why they were made.
  • Describes how personal, social, historical, and technological factors influenced or informed elements of the art work, such as how they were made, perceived, and appreciated by the audiences and critics.
  • Discusses the way in which meaning is made from an art work.
  • Identifies influencing factors on their own work and how these shaped decisions about the production and presentation of the work.

Developing practical knowledge in the visual arts (PK)

Achievement objective

Students will:

  • apply knowledge of a range of conventions from established practice, using appropriate processes and procedures.


  • Makes art works that use conventions learned from the study of established practice.
  • Makes art works that use formal elements (line, shape, space, colour, tone, point, texture, form, mass) and principles (balance, harmony, rhythm, tension, contrast, and so on) in a way that is consistent with established practice.
  • Uses a variety of media to produce a range of visual effects.

Developing ideas in the visual arts (DI)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • generate, develop, and clarify ideas, showing some understanding of established practice
  • sequence and link ideas systematically as they solve problems in a body of work, using observation and invention with an appropriate selection of materials.


  • Uses a process of invention and development to progress ideas visually.
  • Links ideas through exploration of pictorial concerns (investigation of particular forms, motifs, and so on).
  • Observes and reflects on the successes and failures of previous works in order to improve the technical, pictorial, and conceptual aspects of subsequent works.
  • Uses media that contribute to the development of the ideas (for example, clay to explore ideas of mass and solidity and string to explore ideas of line in a sculptural work).

Communicating and interpreting in the visual arts (CI)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • identify and analyse processes and procedures from established practice that influence ways of communicating meaning
  • investigate, analyse, and evaluate ideas and interpret artists’ intentions in art works.


  • Examines art works from established practice to identify how particular processes and procedures influence the meaning made from them (for example, what, in the size and colours of Anne Noble’s Ruby’s Room photographs, makes them seem strange or unnerving).
  • Identifies particular elements of art works from established practice that communicate certain ideas or emotions (for example: What ideas are communicated through the processes and materials used in Ralph Hotere’s Black Phoenix installation [1984–1988])? 
  • Compares the difference between seeing an image of an art work in a book or on the Internet and seeing the art work in the ‘real’. Discuss what makes these experiences of the art work different in these contexts.
  • Interprets the ideas artists intend to communicate through their art works (for example, What ideas is Joanna Braithwaite communicating through her Wild Things series of paintings?).
  • Interprets the meanings that art works communicate, and discusses how these are similar to or different from the intentions attributed to them in artists’ statements or reviewers’ interpretations.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with a suggestion of how they might be used with the focus achievement objective.

The listed context elaborations are examples only. Teachers can select and use entirely different contexts in response to local situation, community relevance, and students’ interests and needs.

Learn more:

Assessment for qualifications

At the time of publication, achievement standards were in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

The NZQA subject-specific resources pages are very helpful. From there, you can find all the achievement standards and links to assessment resources, both internal and external.

Learn more:

Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 for use in 2012; level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

It is important to remember that not all learning Visual Arts needs to be assessed.

Last updated February 14, 2024