Upcoming Events

  • School Holidays – 1st July – 16th July 2023
  • IEMs – Monday 17th July 2023
  • First day of term 3 – Tuesday 18th July 2023
  • Practice Exam Week – Monday 11th – Friday 15th September
  • Last day of term 3 – Thursday 21st September
  • IEMs – Friday 22nd September
  • School Holidays – 23rd September – 8th October
  • IEMs – Monday 9th October
  • First day of Term 4 – Tuesday 10th October

Message From Anita

Kia ora koutou

Thank you everyone for your support over a tumultuous term. We have appreciated your patience as staff work through contract negotiations with the Ministry of Education. It has also 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. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to let our community know that I have tendered my resignation effective from the end of term four. I am resigning from Ao Tawhiti, and at the same time moving away from education. I have worked in education for 25 years. It has been a rewarding career, and I am proud of what I have achieved and the work I have done, however, I am at the stage in my life when I am ready to explore opportunities beyond education. I am not prepared to shortchange Ao Tawhiti by remaining as the Director if my heart isn’t fully in the job. 

I would like to thank the Board for the opportunity to work as the Director of this school. I feel privileged to have worked at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery. It is a great school with  fantastic staff, students, Board and whānau. It is the only school that I have ever worked at where the individual child is truly at the forefront of decision-making, and that is something to be proud of. Thank you to all the whānau and caregivers who involve themselves in their child’s education, who unfailingly support their children and work with the school when we have to make the tough calls.

I would also like to acknowledge the camaraderie and support that I have had from the staff at this school. The bravery and innovation shown by the staff, in the pursuit of the best possible learning opportunities for students is commendable. 

I have loved working at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, and will continue to be a proud and vocal advocate for the great work that all the staff, community and Board do to support children and young people in Canterbury. 

Have a great holiday break and we look forward to seeing everyone back in term three. 

Ngā mihi nui


Messages From Senior Leaders


Thursday’s Matariki workshops and the Hangi preparations are a great example of parents getting involved, creating the village and adding to the learning journeys of our students.

Matariki is about reflection and looking forward. With this in mind, a goal from now is to really increase the amount of adults who get involved as possible across the school.

Our school’s Special Character has guiding principles that state that “Learning is a partnership” and “Everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher”.

One of the ways over the years that we have really lived this out is through having parents, and other adults, involved in learning opportunities for our students.

Our reality is that we have a very limited amount of staff who can support student learning, about 40. However with 670 students we have the potential of a minimum of 1400 adults who could get involved in some way.

We know that some of our older students would prefer not to have their parents in the building, but we also know that working alongside adults who are sharing their experience and expertise is extremely rewarding for students of all ages. 

So with all of this in mind we would love to invite you to get involved in a Workshop programme that we are starting next term across our Year 7-13s.

The workshops will happen between 9 and 11 on Fridays. 

You might like to offer something for 1 week…8 weeks…15 minutes a week…and hour a week. You might be happy running it on your own or you might prefer to team up with someone else. It doesn’t matter, just pop along, get involved and see what happens. 

One of the other easy ways to get involved if you feel you don’t have something specific to offer is “Student Coaching”. We all have children and we all know how to sit down and talk to them about what they are doing, what they are planning and where to next. “Student Coaching” is just working alongside students and asking some key questions helps to keep them focussed, motivated and purposeful. If you’re interested in this as an option feel free to chat to Kay or Ian or simply add yourself to the document.

So, to make this all happen we have created a document that you can use to let us know what you’re keen to do, when you’re keen to do it and how many students you’re happy to work with. Please click on the link below and enter your information.

Please feel free to contact either Ian (LA) or Suki (Parent Liaison) about this… or


Ian & Suki


Thank you all so much for another wonderful matariki celebration.

It was nice to open with a karakia and then head into workshops. I really enjoyed milling around and talking to lots of you.

The performances were another highlight, it’s such a great opportunity to showcase the talent we have at Ao Tawhiti.

I was incredibly touched by your appreciation but in reality am indebted to everyone else who made the night what it was; if you donated kai, put up lights, ran a workshop, supported performances and/ or helped tidy up at the end of the night – a thousand thanks. It would not be the success it is without you all!

If anyone has any suggestions about how to improve on our matariki celebration for 2024, please get in touch with me 

Niki Stephenson

Matariki in the Red Zone

Ao Tawhiti/ The Climate Action Campus have been invited to decorate a matariki star-themed tree as part of Matariki in the Red Zone Our tree – actually 3 olive trees next to the Riverlution hub – is waitā, which represents food from the sea. In true Ao Tawhiti/ CAC style, we may be adding a few elements to our tree that have a message regarding the sustainability of kai moana… Come and check out our trees, and all of the other trees that have been decorated to represent ngā whetū o matariki from 13 July.

Niki Stephenson


Academic Rigor at Ao Tawhiti

Many students choose a strong academic pathway. This is well supported at Ao Tawhiti and often involves students undertaking university-level study while at school. Ao Tawhiti students consistently punch above their weight, often outperforming stage one uni students. We have even had students gain top grades in stage 2 Philosophy courses while still at Ao Tawhiti. This is something that generally isn’t available to students at mainstream schools. This year, we have an excellent group of academic achievers undertaking a second-semester university Philosophy course, which is taught at Ao Tawhiti in collaboration with the UC Department of Philosophy. 

Students who pass the course will gain points towards their degree, and their essays can contribute to Level 3 NCEA. This is something to keep in mind for students who are academically driven.

Brent Silby

Student achievement

Congratulations to Pepper Inkster who recently competed in Primary Sports Canterbury gymnastics competition. Pepper placed 1st on the U-Bars and 6th overall – an awesome achievement!

Hapori in the 1-6 community all of term 2

A huge thank you from all the tamariki, LAs and whānau for all the wonderful grown-ups who gave their time and energy to make every Friday afternoon a special smorgasbord of ever-changing workshops across the entire year 1-6 community. You absolutely rock!  Ngā mihi nui! From the 1-6 Crew.

Melva Gill

Reading Discovery Club at Ao Tawhiti

Reading Discovery Club is a programme designed to give a boost to beginning readers and get them underway in literacy. The programme is initiated by Reading Recovery, and is also known as ‘Early Literacy Support’. In the club, tamariki work every day in a small group with our Reading Recovery teacher, Yolanda Soryl.

Tamariki worked very hard in the intensive daily 30-minute lessons, but they loved the challenge. In the daily lessons, they learnt a nursery rhyme and a song, read a book themselves, learned to spell a word, did phonics, and wrote a story. Phew!

Testing carried out at the start and end of the programme, showed the tamariki made accelerated progress in reading and writing. All children increased their reading and spelling levels significantly.

At the end of the programme, certificates were awarded in recognition of the efforts of the students and to celebrate their learning.

Yolanda Soryl

HB Kea’s Fish Tank

Nadine donated a fish tank to our HB, so Lilian’s Mum Julie has been teaching us about how to set it up. There has been a lot of science involved such as learning about nitrates and PH levels. Here is a learning story Lilian wrote for us.

Our Fish Tank – By Lilian

HB Kea was donated a second hand fish tank.

To clean it out we started by taking out all of the rocks

Next we sprayed it with water mixed with white vinegar to help clean off the calcium off the tank.

The next day we went to the HDU room and we filled it up all the way to the top to make sure it didn’t leak.

We came back the next day and the tank did not leak, it passed our test. This meant it was safe to use in our classroom.

It was time to set up our tank. In the weekend Mum and I went to a fish shop to buy some plants. I choose the plants and when we put them in. They looked very nice. We also bought some dechlorinate and the person at the shop counter at the shop gave us some free good bacteria for the tank.

Today we finished filling the tank, now we need to cycle it before we can put in FISHES!!!

Gina Harrison

Hangarau Hapori – Celebration of Learning

For the last Friday of Hapori this term, students from Hard and Soft materials were tasked with displaying and creating a poster about their projects that they have been working on this term. The Kai group were tasked with creating a nibble/snack that could be shared with students and whānau at our celebration of learning. There was a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes with no food left behind at the end. Overall, it was a great way to end the term!

Jess, Libby, Abby and Evan

Jelly Bean Competition for Pride

George Ratcliffe set up a ‘guess how many jellybeans’ competition for Pride Week – there was a tonne of entries, especially from the junior school! Louie Maguire was the winner and he got to take the big jar of goodies home.

Proactive Physio at Ao Tawhiti

Observatory Trip

Recently the crew in HB Kākāpō  (Melva’s HB) had the opportunity to visit the observatory in the Arts Centre, The Townsend Teece Telescope for an evening of star gazing with the team from the University of Canterbury. We were lucky Bryn Currie, a HB parent was able to organise this unique experience for us to visit the recently refurbished telescope and listen to several talks about Black holes and the creation of the universe from the PhD students . It was a wonderful way to bring to life all the learning we have been doing about our Solar System in the HB this term. A big thanks to the Canterbury of University and Bryn for making this possible.

Melva Gill

Manu Ka Rere

Did you know Manu Ka Rere provide free counselling for young people aged 13-24?  Young people can refer themselves or others can refer them. Manu Ka Rere also run groups for those under their care, and groups for parents. Check out their website

Susan Ayson

Spaces available for singing lessons

Come and see Sarah-Jane at the music rooms from 9 til 11am on the first Thursday back at school. You can book a time with her then. She’d love to see some enthusiastic newcomers… Give it some thought over the holidays!

Steve Ingram

Interview with Azaria Westeneng: 1920s Fairytale Production

What inspired you to write 1920s Fairy Tale?

I have always loved history and period pieces:  The costumes, the etiquette, the romance. Everybody loves the roaring twenties, the time of parties and jazz, however life wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as it’s made out to be in film. This play shows some of the darker realities of the time, still with a touch of the twenties magic and romance. Writing this play I have really fallen in love with all of the characters and can’t wait to see them come to life in this performance. 

Tell us briefly what the play is about.

Dianne, a restless housewife with a dark secret. R.J, a notorious assassin hired to kill. Margaret, an ex-flapper trying to make a better life for her daughter. Faith, an adopted child longing to know the truth. Bill, an arrogant man who thinks only of himself. Noah, Consumed by longing, he will do everything to be close to his only love. Hugh, a heartbroken unfortunate soul caught up in the midst of it all. These seven people all wind up on the same ship to London, how many will actually survive the journey? 

How do you go about writing a play – do you start with the characters, the plot, the setting, or something else?

I start with the plot, the time period. I set the scene for the play, I assign the characters to advance the plot and they create themselves along the way. I know where it will take me and I hide clues within to foreshadow future events. 

What are the roles of a Theatre Director?

The director isn’t there to choreograph the whole play. They don’t inform every movement, every twitch of the finger. The director is there to let the actors see where the script takes them and critique from there. They have the vision, and the actors bring it to life with the guidance of the director. Every actor is different, and requires a different style of directing, some need more assistance while others thrive on freedom. It’s the director’s job to assist the actors the way that best helps them.

What have you learned from this experience?

I have learned a lot from this experience. This has been my first time directing and finding my style has been a journey. Simple to say i have much more respect for my past directors now, i never realised just how much was on the director. I have learned that being at the head of everything, while stressful, is extremely rewarding. To look at the results and think, ‘that exists because of me’ is a very surreal thing. I have learned to let others help me, I didn’t and I couldn’t have done this all on my own, letting someone else be responsible for making your vision come to life is very difficult, but necessary. Everything isn’t going to go the way you planned, and that’s ok. 

Eli’s Adventures in Café Hospitality

Hey everyone, it’s Eli here. I wanted to share my incredible experience with the Cafe Hospitality class and how it has opened up a whole new world for me. Working as a staff member in the cafe has been an absolute blast!

I’ve learned so many new things that I wouldn’t have had the chance to discover otherwise. It’s been amazing to see the ins and outs of running an actual cafe and being able to serve people. The work environment is awesome, and there’s nothing quite like witnessing someone’s smile when they enjoy the delicious food or coffee I’ve prepared.

Being part of the cafe has not only been a fantastic opportunity to explore something new but has also allowed me to meet some incredible teachers. I’ve even taken my interest in the hospitality industry a step further by researching how to make coffee in my own time.

The Cafe Hospitality class has truly sparked my curiosity and passion for the hospitality industry.


Other Notices




Who is this course for?

This course suits a wide range of people, including educators, caregivers, parents and those who work in service of youth. 

This course is suitable for both beginners and those who already have a mindfulness practice who want to dive deeper into mindfulness.

Find ease from your own stress and be a guiding example of wellbeing in your school and whānau. 

Finding Peace in a Frantic World is an 8-week mindfulness course adapted from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). It is designed for those with busy lives and limited time.


  • 8 Weeks in person or live online training (1.5 Hours per week)
  • Home practice (between 10 minutes to 30 minutes per day – whatever you can manage is ok!)
  • Free guided practices


In-person at Rāwhiti School or live online

4.30pm to 6pm Mondays


Term 3, 2023  

24th July to 11th September.


  • Week 1 Waking up to the autopilot – being present for your life.
  • Week 2 Keeping the body in mind – moving into “being mode”
  • Week 3 The mouse in the maze – mindfulness in daily life.
  • Week 4 Moving beyond the rumour mill – all about thoughts.
  • Week 5 Turning towards difficulties – stuff that sucks.
  • Week 6 Trapped in the past or living in the present.
  • Week 7 When Did You Stop Dancing?: Rebalancing Daily Life with what Nourishes You
  • Week 8 Making mindfulness a part of your wild and precious life


  • Understand the foundations and science of mindfulness
  • Learn about the nervous system and its impact on our lives
  • Learn a range of mindfulness practices and tools to be used during daily life
  • Discover ways to navigate intense emotions and negative thought patterns
  • Foster compassion, patience, connection and curiosity
  • Create a support network of like-minded educators in Ōtautahi


Full Price: $280 +gst

Assistance is happily given towards the cost of the workshop to anyone who needs it. 


Contact Erica 0276622497 or for more information.

Register by filling out this form: