Upcoming Events

  • 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

Welcome to our end-of-year newsletter.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate our fabulous whānau and hapori (families and wider community). The success of our special character is dependent on your contributions to our kura. Thank you to all our parents, caregivers and friends of the school who contributed time and energy to come along on school trips, organize tutorials and workshops, fundraise, support learning programs, deep clean the building, create teaching resources and all the other activities that you have generously contributed to. This school wouldn’t exist without your active and ongoing support and it is appreciated by all our staff and the students.

I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of our staff and students. This year was unprecedented in terms of staff and student absence with mandatory isolation for Covid 19. Thank you for your willingness to keep your children at home if they were unwell and follow public health advice. Thank you to our kaimahi (staff) for covering classes during their release and non-contact time.

Thank you also to our Board, both old members and new members for your support and hard work over the year.

Sadly, we have to farewell some staff who are moving on in 2023. We thank them all for their hard work and contribution to our kura.
• Teresa Allpress worked in the Years 7 – 13 communities teaching Science, Textiles, Art and PE. She was also a Home Base Learning Advisor. Teresa has a permanent senior Science job at Hagley College next year.
• Shaun Malloch is an ex-Unlimited student who came back to work as a Music Learning Advisor for 2022. He is leaving us to play music and explore full time teaching opportunities in 2023.
• Jess Finnigan was a Home Base Learning Advisor in 2022 in the year 4 – 6 community. Fortunately, we will still see her around as her sons go to Ao Tawhiti.
• Stephanie Marsic has been with us since August 2020 in a range of teaching rolls, including English, Literacy, Dance, History, Hospitality, Skating, Taskmaster and Home Base. Steph is heading back to Canada.
• Kat Bauer and Michael Hayes became Home Base Learning Advisors in the year 4 -6 community in 2022. Michael is returning to his permanent role at Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School for 2023 and Kat will be joining him as a new teacher.
• Sam Warland worked in Mel’s Home Base every morning as a Learning Advisor.
• We also farewell Kate Bird and Marysa Chee who worked as Teacher Aides.

In 2023 we welcome Lindsay Greene, Nicole Cunningham and Alex Clarke who will be working as Learning Advisors in the year 1 – 6 communities. We also welcome Steve Ingram who will be work as a Music Learning Advisor for 2023.

Sarah Marshall will be on leave for terms 1 – 2 and Marlene Te’evale-Hunt continues her leave for 2023. Megan Taylor is on study leave for terms 2 – 4 to complete her PHD.

I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas break filled with family, friends, good food and sunshine. We look forward to seeing everyone back in 2023.


Messages from Senior Leaders

What a year!

Ngā mihi nui ki a tātou katoa for such a wonderful year. It has had its ups and downs, but – tamariki have been taught, have had their passions and interests looked after, have been out and about in the CBD and wider. They’ve attended and run workshops, had some wild times at nature play at the CAC and grown. It is a privilege to play a part in the lives of your awesome tamariki, and we are already looking forward to 2023 – and a nice long rest before that! Thank you to all of you parents who have been involved in our kura in any way, shape and form over the past year. Your involvement means we can do the things we say we do, and we value you taking the time to be an active part of our special school. Thank you to all of the LAs, Learning Support Staff and Admin team for your incredible mahi this year. Enjoy a wonderful break! And thank you to you kids. You all rock, and make our lives richer.

On the horizon for Y1-6 next year are heaps of exciting ideas. LAs will be collaborating in pairs for some or even all of the time. Each teaching pair has committed to spending a day a week at the CAC in term 1, engaging in projects that align with the kaupapa of the campus, as well as enjoying some nature play. Each LA has taken on responsibility for the leadership of a curriculum area, and there will be the usual teaching and learning with foci on literacy, numeracy, te reo and the new NZ histories curriculum, as well as all of the other cool stuff we do. We have a solid team on board for 2023 and we are all really excited about the year. One project I am particularly excited about is Project Playground. This week a group of passionate parents and myself got together with ex-parent and playground designer Emma Woods. We plan to run a consultation process with the students early next term to see what kind of playground they would like. The plan is to use the deck space at the front of the school and transform it into a space where students can play safely and have their sensory needs met. I’d like to set you some homework for over the holidays. Talk to your tamariki about how they like to play, what they like to do, how many people they like to play with. These and similar questions will form the basis of our consultation next year so we can find the best design to suit their needs. Emma has recommended following this line of questioning rather than ‘What would you like in a playground?’ because tamariki can feel they haven’t been heard when the roller coaster they desperately want doesn’t eventuate!

Finally from me, a sad farewell to many kaiako who have been with us for some or part of the year. Thank you for everything you have brought to our kura this year. You have enriched the lives of the tamariki, staff and parents you have worked with, and we wish you all the very best for your next adventures. Have a great summer break e te whānau!

Niki Stephenson

Pokémon Trading

Huge thanks to Rob Hyde for another successful Pokémon trading session in week 7. We really appreciate Rob’s time and expertise. These sessions mean trading can occur in a safe, controlled environment, and we are lucky to have Rob volunteer to host them. Look out for next term’s trading event!

Niki Stephenson

Message from the Board

Meri Kirihimete!

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the wonderful staff of Ao Tawhiti for 2022! 

As we approach the end of the year, we want to acknowledge the outstanding Mahi and the continuous effort to support each learner. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s passion and actions that shape our special character. 

A special thank you to Anita for successfully navigating us forward with her amazing leadership. We also thank the incredible admin team, support staff, and all learning advisors. And we also thank our fabulous community!

Best wishes to you, your whanau, and your friends as we look toward a new year.

Danette Wereta 

Ao Tawhiti Board Chair. 

News / Notices

MASH tough kids

More than 80 youngsters attended the MASH Tough Kids event on December 9 at New Brighton Domain. All of the students who came loved it a lot.

Megan Gould

Student Game Designer

As part of the school Kaupapa of moving from being consumers to being creators and my aspiration of being a game designer, during this year I have created a tabletop game which I plan to self-publish in the future.

With some funding from the student initiative fund and other sponsorship I attended Wellycon – New Zealand’s biggest, fun, friendly board game convention over labour weekend.

I met with a lot of designers, retailers and also talked with a publisher.

The highlights from the convention were meeting the designer for Ovation, Kirsten Lunde. I thoroughly enjoyed playing her game which is coming to kickstarter next year.

I also met one of the publishers from Arkus Games, a New Zealand based business and played their prototype called Dreadful Meadows. I am looking forward to seeing if they make the change we suggested when it is published next year. 

At the prototype event there was a 14 year old and his mum with his game called Christmas Chaos. This game was in the very early design stage, this showed me that no matter where you are in your game development, you can still participate in this event.

I will be returning to Wellycon next year as an exhibitor, hopefully with more than just the one game.

Next year I will be looking for families to take home copies of my games to playtest and give feedback, more information will be in next year’s newsletters. 

Nate Cooley

Stop Motion with Ōtākaro

During this term I’ve had the pleasure of working with some passionate students from the homebase Ōtākaro creating stop motion films for the Ao Tawhiti Short Film Festival.

I have learnt a lot from the students as I supported them bringing their stories from their imagination to the screen.

From our first workshops with characters including a lion, horse and talking poo, dinosaurs that have babies and any reason that could be found to play with their favourite classroom toys, we found more focus and the talking poo was replaced with a mouse and four groups found their different storytelling voices.

We worked on plot, storyboards, made props and learnt how to create a scene before we started filming.

The finished short films will be debuted on the 12th of December at the Ao Tawhiti Short Film Festival, and can be viewed here after Click here

Julie Wallace-Cooley

Cooking with Fire

Masterchef 2.0

After a successful Masterchef competition in Term 3, there was an outcry of requests for Masterchef round 2. So we decided to give the akōnga what they wanted, Masterchef 2.0 Desserts!

We had 7 Student teams and 1 staff team battle it out to see who could create the most delicious dessert in just over an hour using only the ingredients provided. 

The results were: 

1st: The most amazing three with an outstanding brownie 

2nd: Team 2 with a scrumptious Lemon cake

3rd: Bad Educators with a delicious plum sponge pudding  

Honorary award for Never before seen was Gorton Ramc with a brownie and ice cream combo. 

Jess Dewhurst

Tech Challenges

A group of students have been working together to build and optimise a trebuchet in the 4.2 tech class. Be sure to check the class descriptors next year for more opportunities like this.

Matt Parkes

Years 4-6 Fun Day

On the final Tuesday of the term the Year 4-6 Community went to Spencer Park for a Fun Day. We spent the Monday organising a burger lunch with great help from whānau and students. A special mention to Paige and Esther who were a huge help in preparing the kai and helping with organising the BBQ on the day.

We had an incredible turn out of whānau at the park with lots of fun spent chatting, making connections, playing in park and at mini golf and splashing in the pool. 

The burgers were delicious and we finished the day with Rollickin Gelato as a special treat.

Thank you so much to all the whānau, LAs and student helpers that made this day possible. It was a really fabulous way to end the year!

Have an amazing summer break and holiday season.

Gina Harrison

CLUE – Who Killed Your Favourite LA? 

For 4.2, I had a crazy idea… what if students had the space to make an Ao Tawhiti Themed Cluedo board game? What kinds of havoc could they wreck, creativity could they show, bits could they build? My class definitely did not disappoint. Classes saw students frantically taking pictures of rooms, suspicious-looking LAs, and deciding which everyday school supplies could be used for nefarious purposes. One group decided I was the victim of their game (no offence taken), and some LAs were even trying to have an ‘evil-off’, to see who could look more wicked in their photoshoots. I look forward to seeing the end results and watching the games come to life when they’re finally playable. Thanks for all your hard mahi, e te whānau!

Abby Robertson

Dance Club

During Wednesday lunchtimes this term a group of students have been coming together to share their passion for dance and have fun!

Surfing on Fridays

Over the last 6wks Kirsty McMillan and I have taken 25 students to Sumner each Friday for a Learn to Surf course; learning to surf and/ or honing their skills. It was a fabulous time with varying weather & surf conditions from hardly any surf to quite big, strong waves – a variety for every level of surfer. We have students who have come since we have been organising the trip and students who are both new to surfing and to Ao Tawhiti. It is great for the students’ confidence in and around water, great getting to know each other and just being outside. We finished the course with a fish and chip lunch. It has also been a family affair with a few parents joining in and getting out in the water as well – ka pai!!! We’re hoping to run another session at the start of the year so keep an eye out on School App.

Claire Cameron

Student-made programme

Thomas Booker has created a new programme for our devices to be issued and returned through. It’s so impressive, functional and easy to use. Thank you, Thomas!

Omaka Camp Year 7 and 8 Camp

Firstly I like to say a huge thank you to Lynne Cooker and her family for all the coaching and then practical help with camp and the food. It is fabulous to have parent coaches working with students, but you took this to the next level by involving grandparents with spreadsheets and daughters with brownie baking at home. Your support was amazing.

Also, a huge thank you to the students whose project this was, Arwyn and Gabrille. I know you had moments in the year where you felt completely overwhelmed, and I imagine your parents wondered what we were doing, but you ploughed on through and made it all happen.

Lastly, a massive thanks to Suze, who got the amazing treat of supporting the planning of a camp in her first year of teaching. Talk about it at the deep end.

Last week we took 60 students and 15 parents to the Omaka Scout Camp near Lake Rua. We spent a lovely three days playing in the river, swimming in the lake and feeding eels, amongst other things. Two birthdays, a game of spotlight and a talent show included.

The site was beautiful, and the community atmosphere made it perfect. It is always great to spend time getting to know each other as well as trying new things and challenging ourselves.


Over the last term, some students on floor 4 have been using a colour block for SDL. I wanted to highlight one group as I think they are a fabulous example of our Special Character in action. They have a shared passion for rugby and a shared interest in improving their literacy skills. As a HBLA I encouraged them to use Podcasts as a way to integrate these two areas. Using their passion for rugby they began by writing different scripts and players lists.  They then went on to make their first podcast where they discussed who they believed should be in the All Blacks and why. They also needed to go and learn how to use and set up the recording studio.

With the support of parents and whanau they have gone further and reached out to a couple of current rugby players and invited them into school to make a podcast. They were supported at home to write the questions, research the players and to send the invitations. This was then supported at school in HB and SDL. 

Their SDL has involved HBLA, other specialist staff in the school, parents and whanau and three amazing members of the wider community, Martha Mataele, Manasa Mataele , Jay Geldard founder of E Tu Tangata. This has led to the lofty goal of interviewing their  favourite player at school and recording a podcast. So if anyone has a connection with Ritchie Mo’unga  PLEASE let us know. 

Amazingly they have worked out how to upload these to spotify which I think means I can share it with you. So here goes……introducing Otis, Elroy and Archie better known as The Huddle:

New Signage at the Cafe

Check out the fantastic new Signage at our student run cafe Te Kawhe Koiora. Thanks cafe team, Finn, Eli & Kahlo for your mahi on this!

Student Art Work

Year 7 student Kahlo designed and sprayed this awesome art work. The piece includes themes that are central to Ao Tawhiti and can be viewed up on the 4th floor

Scholastic Bookclub

Thank you heaps to everyone who has supported and ordered brand new books and other items from Scholastic throughout the year. Each and every order has raised over $400 for the school and I know brand new, exciting items have already been purchased!!! For those that don’t know, Scholastic is the book club you may have had when you were at school. Each catalogue features brand new books, puzzles, crafts and much more for preschoolers right up to teenagers. Books start from @$3 upwards and every order earns 20% back to the school. Enjoy the books over the holidays and keep an eye out in February for Issue 1 (usually on the coffee table by reception)

Claire Cameron


NZQA offers free workshops to help families better understand NCEA.

  •  NCEA me te Whānau workshops are offered outside school hours for whānau to learn about NCEA.
  • NCE A-Z workshops are offered during school hours to help Year 10 and 11 ākonga navigate to success.

You are now able to book workshops for Term 1 2023 via this link: Click here

Brent Silby

Behind the Screens

How whānau can help their young people navigate the adolescent years in a rapidly changing world. If you are concerned with the impact of technology, social media, gaming and their safety online then this presentation will give you the tools and insights you need to confidently raise happy and resilient children. Thursday 16th Febuary. 5.30pm

Sarah Marshall

Other Notices