Ao Tawhiti Newsletter July 2024

Upcoming Events

  • School Holidays – Saturday 6th July – Sunday 21st July
  • IEMs – Monday 22nd July
  • First day of timetabled classes term 3 – Tuesday 23rd July
  • Wearable Arts at Turanga – Thursday 1st August
  • RAMs Training – Thursday 8th August
  • RAMs Training – Wednesday 11th September
  • Last day of timetabled classes term 3 – Thursday 26th September
  • IEMs – Friday 27th September
  • School Holidays – Saturday 28th September – Sunday 13th October
  • Production Performance – Thursday 3rd October – Saturday 5th October
  • IEMs – Monday 14th October
  • First day of timetabled classes term 4 – Tuesday 15th October
  • Mahi Toi – The Ao Tawhiti Art Exhibition – Friday 18th October

Message From Anita

Kia ora koutou

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the term, the kaimahi (staff), tauira (students), whānau and hapori (community). It has been a great term with the students taking advantage of fantastic opportunities as evidenced in the newsletter. The term ended on a high with our fabulous Matariki celebrations on Thursday night. Thank you to everyone involved in this event. The choir and Kapa Haka group were amazing, and we had big numbers attend the celebrations and the hangi. It was a real community event, and one of those occasions that students will remember from their time at school. 

Sadly we are saying farewell to multiple staff members this term.

Bonnie Dalton, HBLA in the junior school, has made the choice to have an OE with her partner, Sam. Bonnie planned an OE just before Covid hit and while we are incredibly sad to see her go, we are excited that she finally gets to live, work and travel in Europe.

Alex McKenzie, an HBLA for years 7-9 and one of our P.E. LAs, is also heading to Europe. We are so excited for her and the adventures she will have. She plans to return to NZ after her trip and broaden her teaching experiences within other kuras. We will dearly miss her.

Our student administrator Harmony, who has been offered increased hours at the Drama school, where she works as a second job. While we will all miss her, the junior school especially will notice the absence of her special love and care. Congratulations Harmony!

Mike Latty, who is retiring from teaching. He has been a fantastic relief teacher at Ao Tawhiti over the past 20+ years, and he will be missed. 

As each of you embark on your next chapter, please know that your legacy at Ao Tawhiti will endure. We are all grateful for the time we’ve shared and the impact you’ve made.

I hope everyone has a great holiday break – and the weather cooperates with us. I look forward to seeing everyone back and energised for term 3.


Messages from Senior Leaders

EOTC and RAMs training

Huge thanks to our parent volunteers for your continued support with Education Outside the Classroom. The following RAMs training sessions will be offered this year: 8:30 – 9:00am, Thursday August 8 2:30 – 3:00pm, Wednesday September 11 8:30 – 9:00am, Tuesday October 22 2:30 – 3:00pm, Wednesday November 20 These sessions cover the basics of what whānau volunteers can expect when supporting off-site activities. Please complete the RSVP form, if you are intending to come along:

Megan Taylor


This term a group of students on Level 4 have been working each week with the Library Learning team to learn about robotics.

In the last week of the term some of them headed along to Te Hāpua, the Halswell Library, to test their new found skills against about 20 other teams from around Christchurch. The students were amazing…during the day they built their robots, they tested them and then they competed in about 5 different challenges.

Out of the teams at the event one of our teams was awarded the “Best Engineered Robot” award, well done to Lucca Ogle, Thomas Petch and Vijay Devi-Khichi for winning this award.

Ian Hayes

From Niki

What a busy term!

Thank you all for your support at kura, with trips, workshops, swimming help and for everything everyone did to make matariki another huge success. It is always such a great evening. If anyone has any feedback as to how to improve things for next year, please let me know. 

Thanks too to everyone who has contributed to the Meal Trains we have had. I know life is busy; being able to support whānau who are in need by taking off the small but sometimes incredibly tricky task of deciding what to eat, shopping and cooking makes a massive difference to the health and wellbeing of our community. I am incredibly grateful – as are the recipients of the meals – to all of you who have shown whanaungatanga to members of our Ao Tawhiti whānau.

Have a wonderful break with your children. We look forward to seeing their smiling faces next term. Keep warm and well!

Niki Stephenson



Thank You From our Coders!

A huge thank you to Dimitri, a parent who volunteers in Code Club every Tuesday. He applied for and received a grant for Ao Tawhiti to have their very own set of Sphero Coding Robots – an absolutely amazing resource for our tamariki to use in their learning. This set is worth over $3000 and we are truly blessed to have it. Thank you Dimitri!!!

Physio at Ao Tawhiti

I wanted to share with you the savings that each student/staff member saves by seeing the physio on campus with the co-pay being waived:

  • Initial assessment saves $43.00
  • Each follow up visit: $35.50

Our physiotherapist is Callum, here is a little about him:

Hi, My name is Callum. I am 29 years old, and I came over to New Zealand in November 2023. I was lucky enough to spend two months travelling both the north and the south islands with my girlfriend (Christchurch is still one of my favourites!). I spent a lot of time chasing her round in the car whilst she cycled away. The scariest part of our travelling was either the bungee jump or the sky dive for me.

I have been a physiotherapist since 2016 after getting my degree from the University of Salford in Manchester, England. To learn more about my job I went back to university and got my Masters degree in 2023. 

The best part about my job is that I get to meet lots of new people and help them get better from injuries so that they can get back to doing what they enjoy.

I like going to the gym and playing football, I support a team called Blackburn Rovers (don’t worry not many people have heard of them). 

I look forward to meeting you and helping you get to do the things you enjoy.

Anne-Marie Hampton

A Thank You

Huge thanks and appreciation to Jacinta, a wonderful AT Parent, for her efforts in tidying up the fabric and sewing area in our kura. Check out these amazing before and afters!

Disco Fundraiser Years 1-6

Tickets will be on sale at the door on the night.

Student Achievement

Arotahi provides students with the opportunity to work towards goals and study topics that they are passionate about.

Well done to Emma, who ran a Dress up as your Favourite Animal fundraiser as part of her Arotahi.

She raised a significant sum to donate to the World Wildlife Fund.

Student Achievement

Two of our Ao Tawhiti students competed in the Hip Hop Unite Dance Competition in Wellington in May, and both had resounding success with their dance crews! 

Brooklyn Rockhouse (Year 12) competed with her team Solitaire Future Champs who came 2nd, as well as competing with her Mega Crew Full House, who qualified for the World Champs in Portugal! 

Caleb White (Year 12) competed with his Adult Mega Crew A1 who came first!  And qualified for the World Champs in Portugal. His Varsity Crew called Menace also came 6th.  

Well done to both Brooklyn and Caleb on their well-deserved success!

Alana Whitcombe

Build for Change Competition

Congratulations to Elijiah Daniel and Riley Sheppard for their mahi in the Build for Change Competition held at Turanga earlier this month. These two young builders were tasked with creating a fun and exciting playground in front of our kura. This design is based on a castle theme and is entirely their own work. 

Their creation was acknowledged with a Certificate of Highly Commended! 

Ka rawe!

Richard McCance

Term 3 Fundraiser

Benjamin Sevier

A Social Crisis in NZ by Emma Sevier

Have you heard of food insecurity?

No? Well I will tell you all about food insecurity and how we can help those in need. 

Food insecurity is a major issue that affects a lot of people. Food insecurity is when people don’t have access or a limited access to nutritious food that they need to help them develop. Additionally 15-20% of the New Zealand population suffer from food insecurity 

Material hardships means being unable to afford 6 essential needs like having enough to eat, warm clothes and good shoes. 143,700 children are in material hardship in New Zealand. That means 1 in every 8 children, or 12.5% of the total number of children in New Zealand live in material hardship. This has increased by 23,400 more children or a 2-percentage point from the year before. 

In 2024 164% more people need to use food banks then previous years. The rising cost of living and the increased number of people being made redundant means more people are needed to resort to food banks. Now food banks are under lots of pressure to keep up with demand with the rising number of people who need to use them. Food banks are non-profitable organisations that get no government funding so they can only operate if they get donations. 

Delta is a food bank in Christchurch that provides food to people in need. Delta food bank is vital support for the surrounding area providing last resort and emergency food relief support to over 1200 individuals and families a year. Food bank operates Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10-10pm servicing people that live in Richmond that need their support. Customers get to choose the food they want in their food parcel from what it is on offer. 

How can we help?

Well if you are 16 and over you can volunteer at the delta foodbank. 

You can donate non-perishable foods and fruits and vegetables.  

Delta community trust is one of the partners of the Climate Action campus. Which is Ao tawhiti’s satellite school. As part of the NCEA Climate action course we are  doing a social action project for the Delta foodbank. We will be holding a can drive to help Delta foodbank. A can drive is being held in week 1 of term 3. We are going to have a box at the office where you can hand in your donations all week. On Friday 26th July there will be a Pyjama day and a kahoot.

Emma Sevier


A huge congratulations to our Showquest Team who did an amazing job performing on the 20th of June. They won the School Spirit Award, Highly Commended Lighting and Best Theme!!

Sarah Marshall

Student Volunteer Army Service Awards

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience while helping others. If you’re doing something to help other people, without expecting anything in return, that’s volunteering. Whether you’re putting out cones at a sports event, organising the school formal, caring for a sick family member, washing dogs at the SPCA, planting trees, or picking up plastic rubbish at the beach – you’re making a contribution to your community and that counts.

It can be hard to get a job without experience, but it can be hard to get experience without a job. By volunteering and logging your hours through the SVA Service Award app, you can add essential skills to your CV while building your confidence and making friends.

At Ao Tawhiti we support students working towards these Service Awards and we currently have a number of LA’s actively working with students to find volunteering options through school. Examples of service happening at school:

Literacy and Numeracy support floor 4 Mondays and Wednesday HB

Activism, Volunteering and Action Course Karaka (orange) block. RobM

Kākāriki (green) block Learning Support Level 4

Hāngi Crew

Year 1-8 Sports coordinator / coach / refereeing 

We also have a number of areas where students could volunteer within the school and gain some excellent experiences as well as the SVA Service Award.

The following are areas that students could support learning in years 1-8:

  • Coding
  • Sport
  • Coaching students on their Specific Arotahi goals 
  • Onshape (garage)
  • Maths support on mathsbuddy, supporting and teaching but not giving answers though. 
  • Coding platforms they can teach / help with? 
  • Team building games?
  • Art and craft workshops
  • Yr 1-6 Friday during Hapori 9.15-10am
  • Literacy and Numeracy Support in HB on floor 4

Any student can sign up to SVA Service Awards and any volunteering can be banked towards the different award levels, including any volunteering you do outside of school.

If you would like to know more about getting involved in volunteering at school or would like support to join SVA Service Awards please email the team at:

Congratulations to:

Elroy Jorgenson

Archie Hayes

Sam Gill Vine 

for achieving the Bronze Service Award this term.

Kay Hayes


Over King’s birthday weekend Nate, a year 12 student returned to Wellycon, New Zealand’s biggest, fun, friendly board gaming convention as an exhibitor bringing with him BamBoom, a strategic game that pits armies of pandas against each other in a race for nuclear dominance.

Nate has been preparing to self publish his debut tabletop game as part of his Arotahi goals, and is in the final stages before launching this project on kickstarter later this year.

You can follow Nate on kickstarter at

Julie Cooley

Kidsfest at the CAC

There are two Kidsfest events being held at the CAC during the school holidays, click the links to book:

Rachel Cummins

Boarding Situation Wanted for Student

Boarding situation wanted for 16-year-old male student.  Independent, well engaged in schooling and extra-curricular activities.  Please contact school social worker Alana on 0220461096 to discuss further.

Alana Whitcombe

Student Achievement

Congratulations to Miniah and Adele who achieved great results at the New Zealand Dog Agility South Island Schools Champs which were held last weekend.

Miniah won the Handler Agility competition, where competitors are given a dog they don’t know, to compete with, to show their handling ability. She also got fifth with her own dog, Echo, in the Experienced agility competition. Most importantly, she was also awarded the Most Promising Handler trophy (which is decided by a panel and awarded to only one handler from the entire competition).

Adele got a third in the Experienced Agility competition and a sixth in the Jumpers and then a fourth in the Handler Agility competition as well.

HB Kākāpō: Bottle Lake Forest

On Thursday, June 13th, we went to Bottle Lake Forest. This trip was highly anticipated by the children and was one of our students’ Arotahi goals. Many children participated in mountain biking, and we were fortunate to have many parents biking with them. They went around the two-hour course, and the parents commented that they saw so much kaha (giving it a go, not giving up, and persevering), whanaungatanga (looking out for each other, encouraging each other), aroha (sticking together and feeling the connection), and tiakitanga (trusting their own judgments in finding ways and leading others as well). Parents were very proud of every child.

Children who did not participate in mountain biking had the opportunity to visit the fairy garden and explore the forest, enjoying an amazing nature play experience. The children really loved playing in nature—just walking through the forest, finding huts, trying to build their own tunnels, looking around the fairy garden, being involved in imaginative play, simply digging, and climbing up a hill. The trip truly showed who we are as Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, with everyone working together to make the trip happen!

Mary Lee

Imagination Station – Lego T-Shirts

Students from Ao Tawhiti were invited down to Tūranga to test out a new workshop activity that the Imagination Station is starting up. This activity involved students designing a lego scene using any of the pieces available, photographing it, then getting that image printed out on vinyl adhesive before being ironed onto a shirt of their choice. 

We had students ranging from Year 3 – Year 10 all working together to create some pretty epic T-Shirts, check out the photos below! 

Jess Dewhurst

Code Club – volunteers needed

Code Club is run by 4 dedicated parents who come to Y1-6 every Tuesday afternoon to work with tamariki who are interested in coding and robotics.

The team have grand plans to extend Code Club to Y7/8, possibly 2-3 on Wednesdays, as well as continuing to keep the junior Code Club going but they need YOU!

They are looking for a group of volunteers to help run Code Club. The only requirement is that people are able to read and have a current police vet. No experience or expertise is needed in coding because here at Ao Tawhiti, Everyone is a Teacher and Everyone is a Learner! If you’d like to have a look at the programme we use in Code Club, this website is a fantastic introduction:

If you are interested in helping, please contact

Yarnachy 2024

We have been invited to partake in this year’s Yarnachy. We will meet on Thursdays at Lunchtime in 2.2 to work on our yarn installation. If your student would be interested in joining to make a group project for this then please fill in this form to express interest. 

Here is a link to last year’s installations for inspiration:

Jess Dewhurst

Entertainment Book

Claire Cameron

Discovering Art at the Gallery: A Creative Journey

We are incredibly fortunate to have an art gallery so close to our school, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the world of art and expand our creative horizons. This term, our students had the delightful opportunity to explore the works of a talented New Zealand artist, Cora-Allan, during our gallery visit.

Cora-Allan, who embarked on a voyage through Aotearoa with her father, captivated us with her unique approach to art. She creates her own natural paints from the land and uses a traditional Polynesian material called ‘hiapo’ for her paintings. The result? Magnificent, large-scale artworks adorned with vibrant natural colors that seemed to breathe life into the gallery walls.

Her paintings were a feast for the eyes, filled with intricate details of the landscapes and scenes she encountered during her journey. Standing amidst her work, we felt a sense of calm and wonder, as if we were part of her travels.

Our adventure didn’t stop there. Back in the Education Centre, we delved into the fascinating world of cyanotype art. This innovative technique involves using special paper and sunlight to create stunning images of objects. We were amazed to see how the special paint absorbed the sunlight, transforming simple shapes into beautiful, intricate designs.

This visit was not just about viewing art but also about understanding and experiencing the creative process. It was an inspiring day that left us eager to explore our own artistic talents further. We can’t wait for our next gallery adventure!

Mary Lee

Drama Classes Continuing At Ao Tawhiti in Term 3!

In Term 2, Singing Stars had the luxury of teaching some Ao Tawhiti kids drama! I’m excited to share that these classes will be continuing for NINE weeks in Term 3!

Learn about the classes available:

Musical Theatre with Jess! Learn dance choreography, singing, acting, and how to put them all together to create some magical scenes. Jess is a specialist drama and musical theatre tutor, dance teacher, and NASDA trained.

Junior Musical Theatre Classes, Ages 7-12: Tuesdays 5pm to 6pm

Senior Musical Theatre Classes, Ages 13-18: Tuesdays 6pm to 7pm

Musical Theatre not your forté, but still interested in drama? Then the drama classes on Thursdays are calling for you! Coming from The Court Theatre to Ao Tawhiti, your drama tutor; Harmony!

Last term, the kids delved their minds into new characters, fitting these quirky fellas into new worlds and learning how to work with kids who are older or younger than them. This term, I want to bring Clowning, Puppeting, Improvisation, and scripts to life for an end of year showcase that the kids will take part in! Harmony is a specialist drama tutor and a Court Theatre Jester!

Junior Drama Classes, Ages 7-12: Thursdays 5pm to 6pm

Senior Drama Classes, Ages 13-18: Thursdays 6pm to 7pm

$185 for our Term 3 Nine-week course.

To book, please apply through the website:

See more on:

Harmony Beaven

Other Notices


Now in its 33rd year, the annual event offers a plethora of free and affordable activities for young people throughout the school holidays, from 6–21 July. It takes place in Christchurch, Banks Peninsula, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

“Whether they’re musically inclined, fascinated by technology or love being outdoors, there are literally hundreds of activities on offer to stave off any winter boredom,”

“KidsFest welcomes back perpetual favourites like The Christchurch Brick Show, while also introducing a bunch of exciting new events this year. Browse the full list online at and start building your own schedule!

“It’s a great opportunity for children and young people to get out of their comfort zone and have fun experiences during the holidays. Kids can extend themselves in their areas of interest, as well as discover new hobbies and passions.”

Link to book Swimsmart Sessions

The Muse Community Music Trust

Does your child love music? Would you like to give them the best possible musical start?

Music classes for children will begin in term three at Somerfield Community Centre on Wednesdays. The classes are based in the Kodály approach, an approach that helps all learners become confident musicians who can play, sing, read, write, improvise and compose. Instead of focusing on just one instrument, the approach uses singing games within a well planned sequential programme, to develop strong aural, memory and kinesthetic skills, while developing understanding of the language of music . Children who learn through this approach become lifelong musicians, with strong agency over their musical practice.

The classes are delivered by The Muse Community Music Trust who provide scholarships for parents where finances would prevent participation. 

The first class is a free trial. Bookings are essential because each class will need a minimum of four students to proceed, and the hall is currently being renovated, so we may need a plan B!