Upcoming Events

  • Walkathon – 24th November 2022
  • PPTA Accord Day – 25th November 2022 – school closed for instruction years 7-10 (supervision available)
  • PPTA Accord Day – 29th November 2022 – school closed for instruction years 7 -10 (supervision available)
  • Years 7-8 camp – 5th – 7th December 2022
  • Annual Picnic – 15th December 2022
  • Last day of School – 15th December 2022
  • IEMs – 31st January 2023
  • IEMs – 1st February 2023
  • Staff Only Day – 2nd February 2023
  • Staff Only Day – 3rd February 2023
  • Waitangi Day – 6th February 2023
  • First Day of Term 1– 7th February 2023
  • Last Day of Term 1 – 6th April 2023
  • Good Friday – 7th April 2023

Message From Anita

Kia ora koutou

We are heading into the final weeks of term four and I want to acknowledge our students who are sitting their NCEA exams. They have worked hard and this is one of the biggest opportunities they have to showcase what they learnt. I would also like to acknowledge our graduating students who were celebrated at the graduation ceremony earlier this month. It is a special evening seeing every graduating student have the opportunity to stand on stage to be celebrated for who they are and what they have achieved. They will all be missed, but I am confident that they will be making incredible contributions to our wider world in the future.

You have probably seen the media reports highlighting Aotearoa New Zealand’s increasing levels of students disengaging from school, as evidenced by decreasing levels of attendance. The Ministry of Education has identified chronic non-attendance as below 70% attendance. The Education Review Office recently released its research into the impact of low attendance on student achievement. This report can be read here Missing Out This report highlights some interesting and important findings.

“Attendance at school is critical for achievement, wellbeing, and other lifelong outcomes. The more days of school a learner misses, the greater the impact on their learning.”

“Learners who miss a week each term will have missed out on a year of schooling by the time they are 16.”

“More days of non-attendance are associated with worse wellbeing outcomes, including schoolwork-related anxiety, decreased sense of belonging, fewer friendships with peers, exposure to bullying, and feeling like your teachers are being unfair.”

At Ao Tawhiti we recognise that consistent school attendance (including attendance in off-site educational programs) is a partnership between home, school and community. We all want the best outcomes for students’ learning and wellbeing, so it is important that we continue to work together to find solutions that enable students to engage and attend school consistently. We have a strong pastoral focus with our weekly 1:1s and termly IEMs. In 2023 attendance will be a regular part of the kōrero in those hui, including kōrero around our students who are on-site, but not attending classes or completing Self-Directed Learning.

Our kura is also fortunate to have a great guidance team who work to support students and whānau who are struggling with attendance. This support can be practical and financial, as well as counselling and mentoring. Our team is listed below and they can work together or with external agencies to best support rangatahi and tamariki.

Kaitiaki Anne-Marie Hampton

Counsellor Miriam Denny

Counsellor Bridget Scott

Mental Health Nurse Susan Ayson

SENCO Paula Green

Please do be in touch with one of the staff above, or myself if you have concerns about your child. Our kaupapa is to work alongside whānau to support students to feel safe and happy about coming to school. We want to enable every child to reach their potential through educational success.

Enjoy the remainder of the term. Thank you to all who are contributing to 4.2 classes, as well as camps, nature play, off-site learning and the other opportunities that are available for our students for the last four weeks of term four. I am looking forward to seeing as many of our whānau as possible at our community picnic at the Botanic Gardens on Thursday December 15th.

Ngā manaakitanga


Messages from Senior Leaders

Dungeons & Dragons

Huge thanks to one of our AWESOME parents, Rochelle Devlin, who has been coming in every Wednesday this year from 2.00 to run a DnD session with willing rangatahi. It was delightful to see Rochelle turn up on Wednesdays with her suitcase of tricks, and hear the fun and laughter that was enjoyed by participating students. We are very grateful to you, Rochelle and LJ, and we hope you guys continue with this awesome mahi next year. If you are keen to make the most of our special character and come along and run something that aligns with your passions, or those of your own rangatahi and tamariki, please get in touch.

Niki Stephenson

Happenings at the Climate Action Campus

Fridays this term started off with a hiss and a roar, and our first Friday at the CAC ended up with a few stressed out LAs. They found the freedom of having the whole site to monitor a little too much to manage, and so they decided that the Y1-3 and Y4-6 communities would go on alternate Fridays.

I popped in when the Y4-6 crew were there. They based themselves on the Cowlishaw St side of the campus and it was like the Nature Play days of yore. There were tamariki up to their eyes in sand and having heaps of fun collaborating and communicating in the sandpit; there were tamariki up trees and quite the conflict resolution happening over hut-making. Some tamariki helped Sandi weed, harvest and plant; others were happy doing their own thing, reading in the sun, hanging out together and exploring. The campus is such an amazing resource. Vicki and I will be visiting our contributing schools this term to make sure they know of the incredible opportunities available at the campus, and we hope to see increasing use and vibrancy there.

One of our counsellors, Bridget, and our Mental Health Advisor, Susan, have been working there with a group of students who find school tricky. They spent a whole week at the campus at the beginning of term, and have been going every Monday. The students have made new friendships, taken part in some gardening and art, and one has fallen in love with our bees! As I said, an awesome resource, and I am excited to see the reach and possibilities of the campus in the future. We’re always looking for people to work with us there – again, if you’re keen, please do get in touch.

Niki Stephenson

Ao Tawhiti Annual Picnic

On the last day of term, Thursday the 15th of December, we are having our annual picnic at the playground/paddling pool in the Botanic Gardens. This is a great time for students, parents and staff to get together to celebrate the year and we would love to see as many of you there as possible…everyone is welcome!

The picnic will begin at 9am and finish at 1pm. Please can you arrange to have your child picked up by 1pm from the park. Map

Please remember – lunch, sun screen, togs and towel if you want a paddle.

We will have a staff member walking from the School at 9am to the park and then returning to the School by 1pm. 
Your child will need to sign in and sign out with their LA at the park. 

If the weather is looking shaky, we will make a final call at 7.30am about whether the day at the Park is on or not. 
If we do cancel the picnic we will email out, put it on the school website and put it on Facebook etc. This means school will be open as usual. 

Ian Hayes

News / Notices

Year 1-3 Camp at Blue Skies, November 8 & 9

One terrific day I went to camp. It was really fun. I will tell you two fun things. First I went with Max to the Spider Web Challenge. Do you know the Spiderweb challenge? It has elastic on it but we didn’t know that and it just went down. We tried and tried and tried but it just went down and down and down until we got so tangled it choked Max but I got him out. Then we got Heliodore and we all got tangled together, it was really fun. The second thing I did was the flying fox. The line was really long but I went on it anyway and two minutes later I got a harness on, ten minutes later it was my turn to get on it. I ran to the big tower made of wood. Then I climbed the stairs to the tower. A man hooked my harness to the flying fox and then he took the chain away and then I let go and sped off. The wind was blowing in my face and I loved it. Ayla age 8

On Tuesday 8 November I got picked up and I went to camp. There was a lot of people, there was a hall that everybody had to meet together and have a meeting about the place and after the talk we put our tents up. Some people were staying for a day and some for the night. We had marshmallows. Uyiosa, age 8

At camp I went on the water slide and my mum did too and it was so funny and once I went down backwards and I said YAY!!! After the water slide I had a shower with May and then we dried and then we went back to our cabins. Noelle, age 8

At camp I sprained my arm and this is how it happened. I was waiting in the line for the water slide and the hose was in between my legs and then Dimitri foot tripped me and I when I fell I landed all of my weight on my hand and sprained it so then I went to the 24 Hour Surgery and I came back to camp two hours later. The rest of the day was good. Max, age 7

At camp I pulled up the Flying Fox onto the tall wooden wall where you jump off the Flying Fox, when I jumped off I fell off but I had a harness on and it felt like I was flying. Floyd age 7

Mel Fisk

New York Christmas Quiz Night

Join the festivities with Christmas in New York, a quiz night at Robbies Riccarton, in Christchurch on December 12th. Arrive by 6:30. The quiz begins at 7PM.

Prizes will be awarded for the top three teams, and raffle tickets will be sold, with some awesome prizes up for grabs.

Entry cost is $90 per team, for up to six players ($15 p/p). This event WILL likely sell out, so get in fast to secure your table!

Funds raised will support Ao Tawhiti student, Sonia Woods, to complete her pre professional training with the American Ballet Theatre in New York.

Click here to learn more about what Sonia is up to in NY: Link

Monday 12 December, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM, Robbies Riccarton, 87 Riccarton Road, Riccarton, Christchurch. Purchase tickets here: Link

Megan Woods

Glub…glub 🐟

Thanks for another awesome year glubbers!! We’ve had a wonderful year expanding and growing our glub community. We have learnt new crafts, discovered new games and rustled up lots of tasty grub. We are sad to say goodbye for the year and to those who’ve graduated but are excited to welcome back new and familiar faces for an exciting 2023!!

We hope to see you at the end of year school picnic at the Botanics. We’ll have a blanket down for glubbers so bring yourselves, some shared kai if you can, and come say hi.

*Glub is a safe space for students (14+). We meet in 4.C every Tuesday & Thursday, 3-5pm

Glub…glub 🐟

School Photos – Order online by Wednesday 23rd for Free delivery to School

For the Upper School here is the link to photos Upper school

The User id is: 22UL

Password: Totara

Year 1-8 have individual passwords, if you have lost yours email

2022 Ao Tawhiti Short Film Festival Submissions Wanted

Kia ora e te whānau o Ao Tawhiti,

Are you passionate about film and/or stop motion animation? Do you want to see your film on the BIG screen? Are you a creative storyteller? If your answer is ‘YES’  to any of these questions please read the following message…..

The 2022 Ao Tawhiti Short Film Festival will take place at Lumiere Theatre on December 12th at 12pm. 12th.12 @ 12

We are encouraging children, siblings and families to submit a short film for possible selection for our film festival that will then be screened at Lumiere Theatre. Submissions are due by Monday December 5th! 

Remember to keep it simple. There will be a meeting/workshop at lunch time with Jenny next Wednesday 23rd for those interested and wanting tips!
Please contact Jenny Ward for any details or questions!

Jenny Ward

Special Effects Make-up Workshop

In week one of this term we had Laura a professional stage make-up artist come in and take a workshop with us around Sugar Skull make-up. It was great fun! I modelled for some of the student to practice their work.

Sarah Marshall

Ao Tawhiti Facebook and Instagram pages

Keep informed of school news and in the loop of all the outings, activities and achievements that are ever-present across our kura. Facebook Instagram


SCAPE Artist in Resident – He toki maitai

Our students are very fortunate to have a practicing artist among our staff.

Jon Jeet currently has a sculpture on display at the Christchurch Arts Centre as a part of this season of SCAPE art. Jon’s creation is a monumental Corten steel toki form, which reflects his practice as a recognised pounamu carver.

While Jon was installing his sculpture, Jess D, Teresa and Richard M took a group of students down to observe him in action and lend a hand to weave the rope around the toki.

Jess Dewhurst

Breakfast Club

Breakfast club is still open during exams, from 8.15 till 9am on Wednesdays. Washing up takes a bit longer but we can be quiet by that time! Our parent supports have been wonderful this year and I thank them for their flexibility and patience as eggs and bowls disappear and smoke alarms go off! If any parents are around on a Wednesday morning for the last few weeks of term we would appreciate a bit more help, as our regulars are busy/overseas at the moment. Students do much of the preparation and cooking but mostly have to go to class before cleanup is finished. Just come along or get in touch for more information.

Walkathon Fundraiser for Student Sports Equipment

The walkathon will be held on Thursday, November 24, 2022 and will be divided into two sessions, with years 7-10 attending from 1:00 to 1:45 pm and years 1-6 attending from 2:00 to 2:45 pm. Families are welcome to participate and walk with their students or just to show their support.

The 45-minute walkathon’s goal is for kids to circle the school as many times as they can while dropping lollipop sticks into buckets marked with their community colours each time they cross the finish line. To ensure that all students are safe and on course, we will utilise LAs stationed at various spots throughout the track.

Each student will be able to setup their very own fundraising page on the website and we have lots of great spot prizes.

As part of creating their fundraising page they will choose their community as their fundraising team. The website includes leader boards allowing us to create a little bit of healthy competition between teams. You can view the leader boards and links to information about fundraising prizes on our Fundraising hub page: Fundraising Hub Link to Donate

Megan Gould

Senior Health 2022

This year we re-introduced senior health to our programme, students had a great time integrating 5 Way to Well-being into our NCEA programmes. Our last session together we took part in mini golf and and ice-cream eating.

Sarah Marshall

Small Worlds HB Tūrangawaewae

In HB Tūrangawaewae on Level 1, (Melva’s HB) the tamariki have been working with parent Kelly Odering to create small worlds in our gardens out the front of the school. Our tamariki have been exploring ways to play and how we can create opportunities for other children to enjoy play. This group of keen tamariki have been extensively planning and drawing small worlds with lots of brainstorming and chatting in their groups. Over the last few weeks in terms 3 and 4 the tamariki have created these wonderful little worlds that are filled with buildings, hobbit homes and bridges designed in Onshape and laser cut in the garage with Andrew. They have created sculptures out of clay and built small fences for their livestock. There are trees, plants, paths, and ponds made from pebbles, shells and gems for everyone to play with and even little road cones for environmental dangers. As their learning has grown they have incorporated swan plants for monarch butterflies to use as well. This week Kelly Odering and Youngmin Kim took carloads of keen world builders to Oderings to select and return with plants to add to this growing project. Our HB has been so lucky to have parents who have given their time and expertise to help our tamariki throughout this project to realise their plans for their own learning journey and make this all possible. The tamariki are so immensely proud and the small worlds are amazing, stop by to have a look as you pop in and out of school. 

Melva Gill

Junk Box Wars

One of the courses on offer in 4.2 is Junk Box Wars. Each week students are assigned an engineering challenge that they have to solve using only the “junk” they are provided with. So far students have had to create a super structure that can hold the most weight in a cup and construct a bridge that can support the most weight.

Jess Dewhurst

Code Club

Niki and Leon Maritz have been running Code Club for our tamariki in the 1-6 community for many years and this year Dimitri Souleliac joined them. Every week Niki, Leon and Dimitri work with a group of tamariki to explore how coding can be fun and exciting as they learn to code and program. The last two terms have been focused on programming robotics and enjoying one of the fun ways code can be used in the real world. In the voices of some of the tamariki, Elijah, “it’s wonderful because we have so many teachers to help us when we get stuck.”  Ben, “it’s an amazing environment and you learn lots of new stuff and you might learn a new passion.” Riley, “code club is amazing because there are people to help you and you can code and do Scratch. Orlando, “you can choose what you want to do and do that for the session.”   Ollie, ” you can challenge yourself and try new things.” We are very lucky that we can work with adults who have such a wealth of skills and give so much time and energy to support all the tamariki in our kura and the tamariki love it so much!  

Melva Gill

Robotics Team

Ao Tawhiti students Rhys Lewis, Pietro Moses, and James Hole have been working hard to design and develop their own remote-controlled robot for this season’s VEX VRC Spin Up competition. VEX VRC is an international robotics competition for high school aged students that requires and encourages creative problem solving, flexible thinking, and technical building skills. 

Since starting in July, Rhys, Pietro, and James have spent weeks upon weeks revising and improving their design with key focuses on speed, reliability, and light weight rigidity. In this time they have also competed against other Canterbury schools in local points based games called scrimmages which has motivated them to improve their designs even further.

The team, Ao Tawhiti Mavericks, have their eyes set on the national competition in Auckland early next year and have already proven their competitive design at local scrimmages. 

Hannah Harrison

Skating in 4.2

5kate is an awesome opportunity for students to learn and show their ice staking, scooter, roller blading and skateboarding skills. 

We are offsite for all three lessons, at which time we head to skateparks and Alpine Ice. It is amazing to see our students learning, having fun and spending time in the community. 

Alex & Steph

9 -10 Communities – Homebase Time

Now that the Seniors have left for Exam Leave, we have entered 4.2 which is an opportunity to invest all of our energy into our junior students. The result is a vibrant collection of courses that students have selected and also some more opportunities during Homebase.

In short, homebase represents 6 hours of time per week for students to have their 1:1’s with their Homebase Learning Advisor and to engage in a learning plan or experience of their own. To support and nudge students towards purposeful use of this time, we are running a number of LA led workshops each day with the goal of students celebrating their learning and acknowledging their efforts at a Celebration of Learning on Monday in the last week of school from 9-10am . We are asking students to either reflect upon the workshops that they have joined in on or to document their progress if they are working on an extended focus or project.

So far, some of the workshops available have been: an introduction to 3D Printing, coding for beginners, arts and crafts, Crochet and embroidery, social deduction board games, Flight simulator and more. Some learners are continuing to develop the skills required for self-directed learning during homebase time. This can be an ongoing process for all of us. We encourage you as parents and caregivers to ask your students about how they are using their time with either workshops or an extended focus project.

Craig, Sarah & Jess

Aerial Success for Hazel

Hazel has been training at Aerial 3 studios for around 4 years, and is now and coach and mentor to several students there as well as having great success in her own training and performances. A few weeks ago she competed in Aotearoa Young Aerialist Competition and won the senior youth category. She produced a great piece that made great awareness of mental health and picked her up 12 Level 3 NCEA credits.

Sarah Marshall

New books from as little as $3.50

Scholastic bookclub issue 8 is out now!!! It’s the last of for the year so grab a copy from level 1 kitchen by the lifts or the coffee table by reception. Books are for preschoolers upto and including teenagers so plenty for everyone – not just books – jigsaw puzzles, gemstones, baking kits, diaries. With Christmas coming up it’s a great way to give a brand new book for the community Christmas tree, secret Santa, stocking filler or just because you like reading.

Every order means 20% comes back to school. Order here

Claire Cameron

Other Notices

Brain Play Online

Brain Play teaches online after-school science & technology classes to Kiwi kids aged 5 – 13, from right across the country! Online topics this term include 3D printing, coding, animation, STEM experiments, LEGO & more. Free trials available for new students. Check out our timetable on our website and use the form to get in touch –

Sign up to Whānau Āwhina Plunket’s online Babysitting Course

This course with updated material is designed to give teens from 14 the knowledge and skills to babysit children of all ages. It’s written for first time babysitters, so you don’t need to have previous experience to enrol.  

It uses fun and informative videos, quizzes and activities divided into nine modules. The course takes around 2-3 hours to complete over three weeks. 

In the course you’ll learn:

  • the role of the babysitter, including the expectations of the families they are working for
  • child safety, including emergency situations, and basic first aid
  • ages and stages of children from birth to school age, their basic needs and their care
  • professional behaviour including presentation
  • how to engage with children of different ages, including activities for each age group and
  • behavioural information
  • how to get a babysitting job.

Upon completion of the course and the final quiz, you will be emailed a certificate certified by Whānau Āwhina Plunket to show employers that you have completed this course and are ready to babysit. Plus, we will email you a Babysitter’s Manual that supports all the information you have learned in the online course.

Everyone completing the course from November 2022 – 31 January 2023 will be invited to join one of three free online Q&A sessions with our babysitting educators.

The course costs $50 per student.  Students can sign up directly through our website here.