Upcoming Events

  • School Ski Trip – Friday 25th August
  • School Ski Trip – Thursday 7th September
  • Practice Exam Week – Monday 11th – Friday 15th September
  • Last day of instruction for Term 3 – Thursday 21st September
  • IEMs – Friday 22nd September (bookings will open Monday 4th September)
  • School Holidays – 23rd September – 8th October
  • IEMs – Monday 9th October
  • First day of instruction for Term 4 – Tuesday 10th October
  • Labour Day – Monday 23rd October – School closed for instruction
  • Graduation 2023 – Thursday 2nd November
  • NCEA Study leave begins – Thursday 2nd November
  • NCEA Exams begin – Monday 6th November
  • Canterbury Anniversary – Friday 17th November – School closed for instruction
  • Ao Tawhiti Film Festival – Monday 27th November
  • Last day of School 2023 – Thursday 14th December

Message From Anita

Kia ora koutou ki te whānau

Dame Whina Cooper said, ‘Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they see, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa’. I love this quote and try hard to keep it at the center of my work in education, and in my relationships with my own children. I have seen the care of our children prioritized over the half-term, particularly in the opportunities afforded our students, which have been supported by staff and whānau. 

This term we have had a parent-led clothing swap which was a huge success. We are increasing our numbers of parent-led workshops with learning opportunities ranging from robotics to hair braiding to fitness and football skills and many more. We have also had student led workshops, with students teaching their peers and developing skills and confidence that will hold them in great stead in life. We have had whole school ski trips, and other Education Outside the Classroom opportunities through Hapori and Nature Play. The students are running a fabulous school café with great lunches available, and Suki Hickling, a parent is setting up a parent space near the café for parents to meet. The Years 7 – 8 have been working with the Life Education Truck, and the Years 9 – 10 have been working in Hauora programs. Jess Dewhurst has started a homework club on Wednesday at 2pm, and Jess and Abby are running a senior choir. Jenny Ward is running a junior choir. Our Kapa Haka numbers are increasing and the Jazz Band did really well in Jazz Quest. We have Art students exhibiting their work at Eastside Gallery. We also have parents working hard to raise funds for the children in our school. These are just a few representations of the opportunities available to our students and I am grateful to everyone who is working to make these opportunities possible and ‘supporting us to take care of our children’.

Taking care of our children has also been the rationale behind the development of two new school policies that I would like to share with the community. 

The first is an allergy policy to help us support our students with serious allergies. This policy was developed using the Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines for School and Kura by Allergy New Zealand and the Ministry of Education’s guide for inclusive education. This policy means that we will work an individual basis to provide the level of care needed for each student. 

Here is a link to this policy 5.27 Serious Allergies Policy Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery

The second is a policy to enable our counsellors to be able to work most effectively with struggling students, and sadly the number of students struggling is increasing. Our wonderful counsellors work really hard to support our students, but the reality is that we have limited time and resources. We are only open 25 hours a week, for forty weeks of the year. Our counsellors are able to offer short term support for students, however we are unable to offer ongoing, long-term support for students. What we are able to do is support families and students to engage with external counselling support that is specific to students’ long-term needs. If you have any questions about getting counselling support than please contact

Here is a link to this policy 5.28 Counselling Policy

Finally, thank you to everyone who contributed to our consultation process around our delivery of NCEA Level One moving forward. After careful consideration of the community, staff and student voice we have decided that we will offer the new Level One NCEA qualification in 2024. This decision doesn’t negate our ability to be flexible and individualized in our programs. 

Enjoy the second half of the term with the increased warmer weather heading into the Spring holiday break. 



Noho Marae at Waihao 1st – 3rd August

In week 3, Māori students and students studying te reo Māori across the junior and senior school headed down to Waihao Marae just outside Waimate for a two night noho marae experience. We had a blast learning more about te ao Māori, weaving with an experienced kairaranga, learning about the taiao, visiting the Raptor Trust, Timaru’s Māori Rock Art Centre, and cooking our own kai. Ngā mihi nui to the whānau helpers, organisers, and staff who came to support – thanks so much for all your tautoko!

Abby Robertson

Ara Jazz Quest

Ness Arps, Flynn Gunther, Lucas O’Hallaran and Jo Matsuda competed in the Ara Jazz Quest Combo Competition. As a group they achieved a silver award, and Ness was awarded most outstanding guitarist. 

Gregory O’Neill

Health services available at Ao Tawhiti

Susan Ayson, Mental Health Advisor.

Susan is our mental health nurse. She is based at Hagley College and travels between there and Ao Tawhiti on a regular basis. Susan has previously worked for Te Whatu Ora. She is available to discuss concerns about a student’s mental health, and if requested can assist students to connect with supports outside school.  Whānau are welcome to contact Susan directly  021 916067.

Alana Whitcombe, Social Worker:

Alana is our social worker . She is based at Hagley College and travels between there and Ao Tawhiti on a regular basis.  Alana can provide information and advice to whānau when they are struggling with a variety of situations.  She can refer to free counselling services for whānau, organise food parcels, and can refer to other agencies for extra support as needed, including Government agencies.  Whānau are welcome to contact Alana directly 022 0461096. 

The return to Wellycon

This June I returned to Wellycon, NZ’s biggest, fun, friendly boardgaming convention, one of the first events held at Tākina Wellington’s brand new Convention & Exhibition Centre.

This year I returned as an exhibitor, having a dedicated table in the game designer space where the public could come and play test my game all weekend long.

The weekend was a rollercoaster of many ups and downs including being trapped in the hotel elevator requiring the fire services to be called, thankfully I was only trapped for 20 minutes and was not alone.

Day one of Wellycon was a bit of a blur, due to a lack of sleep thanks to the adrenaline generated by the faulty elevator. We played game after game after game, which I have to admit can be rather draining, but when the people enjoying playing your game are successful published game designers this can be incredibly energizing.

We got to catch up with Kirsten from Looking Glass Workshop, Nicola from Arkus Games, Rhiannon from MKE Games, Amy and Llewe from NZ Lego Masters and their two cute kids, several New Zealand table top game YouTubers and other people from the community who remembered me from last year.

Day two of the convention started with a prototype event.  My Mum looked after our table at this event playing game after game with new people who hadn’t had a chance to play the previous day. This allowed me the time to go meet with other designers and play their prototypes in the same event.

Once the prototype event wrapped up I had achieved our goal of testing my game with my direct market. I got valuable feedback and have a few tweaks to make to some cards and text, and a few rule changes to test.

We packed up our stand and became regular members of the public, getting to play games with new friends and hang out with more New Zealand designers. I can’t wait to return next year. 

Nate Cooley


Home Base Kea and Home Base Melva went to the Christ College to listen to some writers and authors. They gave out rewards for the best suggestions and questions. I said to the author of Red Rocks, Rachael King, “Will you write a book of axolotls?” I won a book, a little pamphlet and a bag. My Dad, Rob got me a book of Red Rocks and it got signed by the author! “Thanks for the axolotl book suggestion.” … and that’s basically it.

Charlie Hyde

Creativity with a side of pins and needles at the CAC

All it takes is one child’s arotahi goal, one parent asking if we could have a sewing machine at the climate action campus and one LA with the drive and motivation to make things happen and before you can blink, we have a dedicated space for students to design and create.

A huge thank you to Lindsay Greene for making this space a reality. This room has already seen the creation of dresses, doll outfits, a dress form, and many sparks of designs and plans for a fashion show.

We are well stocked with small pieces of fabric but are in need of donations of larger pieces of fabric.  Ideally at least 1 meter or longer, cleaned used unwanted bed sheets are also appreciated.
Please drop off at reception or email

Julie Cooley

Homebase Tarata happenings

Cat Cafe

Throughout Term 3 Tarata have been focussing on Arotahi and showing whanaungatanga to help individuals achieve their goals and follow their interests and passions. We started our term with a focus on Annika’s Arotahi to learn about cats. We created clay models and other produce including baking to sell. Our aim was to raise funds for a group of students to attend the Catnap cafe. The tamariki opened their own Kitty Company Cafe with menus and craft items to sell. This was authentic learning within a real context and enabled the tamariki to use money and develop an understanding of the skills and resilience required for running a cafe! The tamariki had a blast at the Catnap Cafe and shared their wonderful experience with the class. Our tamariki and their whānau made our kura proud at the Catnap Cafe.

Trip to Spain

The following week we took a trip to Spain in our fake aeroplane. This was Eloy’s Arotahi to share his culture with us. We made passports, had stamps and announced boarding times and flights over the intercom. Eloy did amazing mahi with his mother to present a slideshow about Spain including subheadings such as food, animals, music, and costumes. He also taught the tamariki to make castanets and we got to try some delicious kai from Spain. Eloy’s Arotahi clearly demonstrates the links between home and kura learning. Idoia mentioned that Eloy’s Arotahi developed a deeper interest and understanding of Spain and his cultural background. She also informed me that rich learning discussions resulted. Often it is hard to get into kura so we really appreciate all the mahi you do at home to support your child’s Arotahi.

Jenny Ward

Game design

Nate Cooley is passionate about tabletop gaming. This passion has not only inspired him to start his own independent publishing company, but also to share what he has learnt and mentor other students with a similar passion.

This term Nate started a weekly game design group for the year 7 and 8 community. Every Tuesday morning this group meets to work on their individual games, talking through the concepts, different mechanics and game play and moving onto creating their first prototypes.

This group has be increased to twice a week this term and open to other students who may wish to join, just email or speak to your HBLA

Nate Cooley

Kaitiakitanga – Harakeke Weaving

In 78 Science, we have been exploring Mātauranga Māori specifically the concept of Kaitiakitanga which is the guardianship and protection of te taiao (the environment). 

Last week, we looked at the act of kaitiakitanga and tikanga in the context of Harakeke Harvesting and Weaving. We were very lucky to have a local Harakeke Weaver, Lisa, from the Kahu Collective in New Brighton, run a workshop for us out at the Climate Action Campus. 

The students enjoyed learning how to weave bracelets, stars, and flowers, as well as how to follow tikanga when harvesting and preparing Harakeke Leaves. Next steps are students planning to run a harakeke weaving workshop for some of the younger students in the coming weeks as part of their assessment on Kaitiakitanga.

Jess Dewhurst

School Ski Trips

We have managed to get up Mount Hutt twice so far this year with two more trips planned. The last trip was perfect conditions with plenty of fresh snow and clear sunny skies. Both trips have been full with 30 – 40  students and several parents and staff. Who knows, maybe next year we will get two full buses each time!!

The next two trips are currently full and so we are running a waitlist. If you want to add your child to the waitlist for Friday August 25th or Thursday September 7th please email kay,

Kay Hayes

Playground FundraiserHydroslides

Join us for some hydroslide fun at Taiora QEII whilst raising funds for the new playground.  

Sausage sizzle will also be there 

****Friday 1 September, evening****

• Two hours exclusive use.

• Unlimited hydroslide use during the session.

• Use of spa and sauna (must be over 16yrs).

• Changing rooms access and showers after the session

  • .Hydroslides are for adults and children aged over 5 years old.
  • Children between the ages of five and seven (inclusive) must be actively supervised by a responsible caregiver over the age of 16 years who is to be within the pool area at all times and able to provide immediate assistance.
  • To use the hydroslide at Taiora QEII, children must be at least 107cm tall.

More details to follow but for now – save the date

Claire Cameron

Variety KiwiKids sponsorship and grants

Sponsorship is around $450 per year towards school trips and camps, basic essentials and other activities outside school.  If your child is aged 4 – 18 and you have a community services card, you can apply directly on the website or with help from Miriam as the school KKS contact.  It can take a while for the sponsorship to be accepted, up to 6 months, but its really worth it and renewal each year is easy. 

For more information contact Miriam

Miriam Denney

Half Everywhere

Since the start of the year, HB Kororā have been reading a novel called The Wild Folk.

The intention was to use the story as inspiration for literacy, but it has evolved over time into an entire world, called Half Everywhere.

In term 1, everyone in HB Kororā developed a character which we then created in Hero Forge. We decided their attributes and characteristics, including their name, diet and habitat. We’re turning this into a Half Everywhere Top Trumps game.

The characters’ habitats naturally sorted the HB into groups with similar settings or regions. This led to planning and creating an entire world, with each group responsible for a different region in the world. There’s Frosty Land (icy and frozen), Second Land (hovering above the rest), Land of the Unknown Death (including a sacrificial pit in the forest), Snickerdoodle City (complete with McDonalds!), the Coral Sea (with Truffula Beach), Lake Concussion (with the Shrek swamp), Forgotten Land (has a ravine in the jungle), King Jimmy’s Nest (has the Great Wall of Jimmy) and the Wish of Death Village (all dead, barren and wasted). We spent some time planning and then we made a diorama. The diorama covers two tables in our HB.

We learned about scale and proportion so our trees and buildings were as realistically sized as possible, and we used the map of the world to learn about coordinates, mapping and navigation. We learned about model making and how hot the glue guns are!

Then we extended everything into a giant Minecraft build, which ended up having to take place at Turanga due to network issues at school. Using the library computer suite was a great experience and, though not quite finished, our Half Everywhere Minecraft world is pretty spectacular! Here is a link to a fly-through video posted on YouTube.

We have decided on laws for each region and established systems of government. We’ve created flags and money and considered the natural resources in each region. We’ve written fairy tales and creation myths – and we’re working towards creating a book of Half Everywhere stories. 

Suze’s teacher code plus Lindsay’s teacher code became the name for the “Overlord Suzkling”, supreme leader (God) of Half Everywhere. Overlord Suzkling lives in the Whimsy Watchtower on the Isle of Whimsy. Recently, evil Overlord Suzkling happened upon a nest of strange eggs in a cavern on Mount Everywhere and stole all the eggs. The parents of the eggs are unknown, and what will hatch from those eggs is a mystery… Everyone in HB Kororā was given an egg to care for, in the hope that at least one will hatch so we can see what’s inside. Caring for eggs has resulted in babysitting fees needing to be exchanged on Banqer, building of nests, houses, prams, apartments and hotel rooms up for purchase… (Ultimately, we hope improved empathy will be the end result of the egg project.)

Unfortunately, lots of the eggs haven’t survived due to breakages. We also lost one to murder! This resulted in a spontaneous trial to prosecute the perpetrator and then a funeral for the unfortunate egg Bobarina. There’s been lots of learning and there’s still more to come…

Half Everywhere has taken on a life of its own and we’ve just finished the novel that started it all. Now for the sequel! (Wild Folk Rising.) 

The whole thing is a big adventure, but we’re all having heaps of fun.

Many thanks to Andrew in the Garage for all his help, bringing the project to life.

Suze Keys

Student Sporting Achievement

Congratulations to Flynn Gunther on being selected to represent New Zealand at the 30th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Birmingham, 16-19 November!

Breakfast Club

Please help with Breakfast Club from 8.15 to 9.15 on Wednesday mornings in the L4 Cafe.  See Miriam or come along next Wednesday to join us



Miriam Denney

Other Notices