Upcoming Events

  • Athletics Day – Thursday 9th March 2023
  • Proposed Strike Day for NZEI & PPTA members – Thursday 16th March 2023 – we will confirm this as soon as possible
  • Last day of term 1 – Thursday 6th April 2023
  • Staff only day – Monday 24th April 2023 – school closed for instruction
  • ANZAC Day – Tuesday 25th April 2023
  • IEMs – Wednesday 26th April 2023
  • IEMs – Thursday 27th April 2023
  • First day of term 2 – Friday 28th April 2023
  • Last day of term 2 – Friday 30th June 2023

Message From Anita

Kia ora e te whānau

It has been a fabulous start to our school year. Thank you all for your contributions to our IEMs. This hui is fundamental in setting up your child for success. Thank you for making the time to meet with Home Base Learning Advisors to develop your child’s goals for 2023.

The Mihi Whakatau was a celebratory welcome to our new community (manuhiri). I was proud to be part of this. I would like to thank Matua Sonny and Whaea Tui, our Kapa Haka tutors, for their contribution to the Mihi Whakatau. Matua Sonny spoke beautifully on behalf of our kura and tangata whenua. I would also like to thank Steve Ingram who led the haka, and Clint Williams for his support of Steve. Our Kapa Haka rangatahi were brilliant, as was Marlene Te’evale-Hunt. Thank you to all the whānau who contributed to this occasion.

Our school-wide focus this year is to enable students to be successful with their Arotahi program (self-directed learning). Our school has a unique Special Character which states that the child is central in directing their learning so that the enthusiasm and love of learning is retained. A fundamental aspect of this is the development of students’ unique learning programs, which we call Arotahi. Arotahi is really about opportunity. Students have the opportunity to explore learning that they are passionate about and that sets them up to achieve their individual goals, as well as supporting the development of skills that are increasingly valued in the 21st century. The World Economic Forum identified the following as the top in-demand skills across all sectors; critical thinking, problem-solving, active learning, creativity, initiative, technology use in a controlled manner, technology programming, resilience, flexibility and reasoning. These are the skills that students need to be successful in their Arotahi programs. Successful Arotahi programs are unique to each student. They aren’t exclusive of traditional academic success. We have older students who want to gain University Entrance and they use their Arotahi programs to support their NCEA study. We also have older students who are entrepreneurs or philanthropists and use Arotahi to set up business and/or charity events. We have five- and six-year-old children who use Arotahi to set up sports’ activities, or learn more about Pokemon, or how to make stop motion films. There is no ‘right or wrong’ when it comes to Arotahi.

Our Home Base Learning Advisors are working together in Professional Learning Groups, exploring best practice to support students in effective self-directed learning. Our job is to facilitate our students’ learning so they achieve success in whatever endeavors they undertake.

Highlights from the last five weeks have also included our impromptu fundraiser to support people struggling after Cyclone Gabrielle. We sold the food that had been ordered for Sports’ Day and raised $650. This money went to Omahau, as our school has links to this community and to the KidsCan Cyclone appeal. Thank you all for your generosity.

Other highlights have included the community picnics at the Climate Action Campus, Botanic Gardens and South New Brighton. Hapori has begun for the year and there are fantastic opportunities available for students including Hospitality, Art, Technology, Communication, Gaming, Outdoor Education and NCEA support. The Years 1 – 6 communities have been doing some incredible student or parent or staff-led workshops.

Our school is a place of opportunity. We provide opportunities, but we also encourage students and whānau to create their own opportunities. If your child wishes to try something new, then tell their Home Base Learning Advisor and we will work with you to see what we can provide.

Finally, I would like to thank all the caregivers and whānau, who have been on-site supervising workshops, supporting children, supporting trips and enabling our school to enact our Special Character. Your time and expertise are valued and appreciated. If you would like to become more involved in our school, but are unsure how, then please visit this link on our website Getting Involved It will explain how whānau can become involved in our school. Enjoy the rest of the term.

Ngā mihi nui

Anita Yarwood

Messages From Senior Leaders

Earthquake Preparedness 2023

All Home Base classes have talked through the earthquake preparedness plan for 2023. This plan told students what to do if there is an earthquake during the school day. Home Base Learning Advisors talked through the plan with their students, and will do so on a regular basis. We have attached the plan to this article so you can also see what was discussed with your child. We are fortunate as we are in a building that was built post-earthquake, and it was built to high safety specifications.

If we have to evacuate then we will head to Hagley Park (opposite Hagley College), and you will be able to pick your child up from there. The complicating factor for our older students is Trust License Trips within the four avenues. If it is safe to do so then we encourage students to come straight back to Ao Tawhiti, and if we have evacuated then they can follow us down St Asaph Street to Hagley Park. However, please do talk to your child (if they have a trust license) and make a plan with them. If we evacuate we will aim to communicate with all students on trust license trips – but this will be dependent on communication channels staying open. If you have any questions about this then please contact the school at

Anita Yarwood

Skateboarding and Scooter Safety

Older students have trust licenses that have meant that they have gone to Washington Park to skate, or scooter during breaks. We are concerned about the safety of students at Washington Park, due to reports of people (not our students) behaving badly at the park, as well as the potential for injury. When students head to Washington Park on a trust license trip they aren’t supervised by a staff member telling students to wear helmets, or intervening if something happens. Washington Park also sits just outside the Four Avenues (which is what our Trust License covers). We don’t want to stop students from being able to go to Washington Park during the school day, however we need to make sure that caregivers give permission for their child to go to Washington Park, using their Trust License. We also need caregivers to be aware that there is no adult supervision at the park. If your child wishes to go to Washington Park, and you give permission for this, then can you please complete the form at this link: View Form This will be shared with your child’s Home Base Learning Advisor.

We are also asking that students who are scootering and skateboarding immediately outside the school, during the school day, wear a helmet. This improves student safety and role models safe practice for our years 1- 6 students (who do have to wear a helmet) when skating, or scootering outside. Thank you for your support with this.

Anita Yarwood

Potential Strike Action

There is a potential Strike Day on Thursday March 16th. PPTA (secondary teachers’ union) and NZEI (primary teachers’ union) are voting and the results of this vote will be confirmed on Friday 10th March. We will contact whānau as soon as we know the results of the vote. If the strike does go ahead we will not have enough non-union staff to safely open the school on the 16th of March. We will be able to offer limited supervision for a small number of students, under 14 years, and will send out more detail closer to the date.

Anita Yarwood

Y1-6 pānui

What a quick few weeks it has been! Half of the term has already gone. So much has happened, and there is still so much to come.

A gentle request to engage with the fortnightly Y1-6 newsletter. As there is lots happening in Y1-6 we send out fortnightly pānui to keep everyone up to date. If you are not receiving these, please contact

These days have been hot, and we see many tamariki playing outside without pōtai. The weather looks to be good for the next wee while, and we do not want the tamariki burning in our hot NZ sun. Please send in a named sunhat so we can keep our tamariki safe.

One of our parents talked to me recently about the forms and documents we request whānau to complete, commenting that each HB has a different system, which might be tricky if you have tamariki in different HBs. We know it is a pain, and we are looking into how to streamline the process for LAs having the info they need to make trips, such an integral part of being at AT, manageable and safe. If anyone has any brilliant ideas, please get in touch with me.

There is an ambitious project on the go this year, to create a play space for tamariki where the deck currently is. We are working with Emma Woods of Woodland Escape Link to website and beginning to consult the tamariki. HBLAs will be asking questions about how children play, who they play with and their favourite spaces rather than what they’d like in a playground. With such limited space it is unlikely that we can fit in a giant slide or a football pitch! Look out for more info in the near future.

Friday hapori workshops are rocking at the moment! Between 11.20-12.20 we run student-led workshops and 1-2.30 adult led workshops. The atmosphere on the floor is wonderful. If you have an idea for a workshop but no idea how to run one, or you can’t do one on a Friday, please contact

There is a lot of lost property on level 1, please come and have a look and take some of it away! We’d love some help sorting through and tidying up this area if you have some time whānau.

Finally from me, a huge thanks to our Y1-6 Learning Advisors, Learning Support Staff and volunteers who help make our kura the awesome place it is.

Niki Stephenson

Climate Action campus update

Lots of exciting things happening at the CAC this term. Home Bases are visiting the campus for a whole day every week/ fortnight. There, they are working on a range of climate-action-related things and some tamariki are working towards reaching some of their Arotahi goals. I spend some time in the afternoons doing some cool experiments using House of Science kits and Sandi is often around offering a horticulture workshop. We are keen for the ākonga to run some climate action related workshops on their day, it would be great if you could talk to them about some ideas and support them to run them.

The demolition on the hall, drama space, music space and gym is well under way. We hear it will be completed by August. Possible plans for the area left are a natives forest and/or solar panels.

The MOE have awarded us some extra funding to hire Learning Advisors for the campus. We are in the process of shortlisting and interviewing candidates. There was a huge amount of interest in these positions, which shows that climate change and a different way of teaching/learning are desirable. I am looking forward to working with a bigger team at the CAC, while maintaining my Y1-6 Deputy Director role.

We love seeing everyone out there – thanks heaps for transporting, hanging around, helping students with their mahi. If you haven’t been, come along and check it out!

Niki Stephenson

NCEA information evening

Caregivers of NCEA students are warmly invited to a hui on Monday March 20th, at 5:30pm. Brent and I will cover the basics of NCEA and offer some tips for navigating the NCEA journey here at Ao Tawhiti. We expect the meeting will be particularly useful for whānau new to the school or those with students just beginning to work towards NCEA.

Megan Taylor


Friday Hapori workshops for year 1-6 tamariki – here is the opportunity for adult whānau to run workshops

Thank you to all the wonderful adults that came in last week and ran so many workshops for our tamariki in the afternoon from 1.15 pm – 2.30 pm on Fridays. They had an absolute blast! 

We have a gaggle of whānau getting the ball rolling for this week which is great to see and we are looking forward to seeing more added through the week and for the following week. It’s also a really good chance to meet other adults and for parents to make those connections that become so valuable in supporting the tamariki. 

Your workshop is a chance to share a passion or an interest you have.  Your workshop could be for groups as small as two ākonga or much larger – whatever you feel comfortable with. It can be a one-off opportunity for the tamariki or you could run a workshop over several Fridays. This is a great way for you to share your enthusiasm for almost absolutely anything and can encompass everything from lego, art creations, microwave baking, rock painting, drawing, film, stop animation, photography, sports, sewing, geology, Pokémon Go, coding, drama, play-based learning, city walks, craft, science and the list goes on…

The workshops can take place at Ao Tawhiti or if you are school Police vetted and EOTC trained, anywhere in the 4 Aves/the Climate Action Campus if you give LA’s or myself an opportunity to do the paperwork for you a week in advance. If you need resources we can possibly support you with them from school, email your LA or myself, ( and we can see what we can find for you.

If you are a year 1-6 whānau member please add yourself to this document Hapori form that is attached here if you want to run a workshop. If you are a keen Ao Tawhiti whānau member of ākonga in the year 7-13 community and you would like to run a workshop for our year 1-6 tamariki on Fridays, please email me ( and I’ll support you in teeing up a space and gaggle of keen learners.

We are looking forward to seeing what we can co-create together on these Fridays and how we can fuel our tamariki’s passions for new learning.

Melva gill

Whānau led Workshop

Thank you to Matthew Walker, a parent of one of our students, for leading this fantastic terrarium workshop last week. The tamariki had a total blast!

Melva Gill

Student led workshops

Hapori Fridays are in full swing with not only whānau led workshops but student led ones too! Each of these activities was planned out and executed by our tamariki for their peers to enjoy.

Floor 4  – Year 7, 8 and 9 students – Update

Trips out and about in the city

Across the last few weeks we have taken Floor 4 students out and about in the city to explore some of the many learning opportunities on our doorstep. Most notably, we have visited the Space exhibition at Turanga and the Shift exhibition at the Museum.


We are now well underway with our Arotahi time in Homebases. This is a time when students can work on their own goals and it’s great to see how students are stepping up and managing themselves during this time. Please have a conversation with your child about what they are working on – there’s lots of good stuff happening.

Trust Licences

This week we were really excited to have awarded about 20 Trust Licences to students who have displayed a strong sense of responsibility inside the building. These students have had a Trust Licence last year and have continued to display a good understanding of the values of the school and what is needed to go out into the city unsupervised. 

We are hoping to continue the process for students who have not had a Trust Licence yet but have shown the same level of responsibility, respect and trust inside the building over the last few weeks. Hopefully we will be awarding a few more Trust Licences in the coming weeks.

Student Market for the Cyclone Gabriel Relief

Kay’s HB are planning a student market to raise money for a couple of schools in Gisbourne. The plan is to send them the money to purchase new equipment like sports gear and musical instruments. The funds may also go towards supporting some students to replace their uniforms lost in the floods.

A number of schools around New Zealand did the same for Discovery1  after the Christchurch earthquakes so we felt it would be nice to pass it on.

Details of when the market is and how students can have a stall will be out soon. Stalls will be available for students and HB’s that have things to sell that they have created as part of their Arotahi and personal pathways. All the money collected will go directly to the cause so students will need to be prepared to donate all their takings. 

Look out for the posters and QR code sign up!!!

Kay Hayes

After/Before School Guitar Lessons

Hello everyone! This term Lucas and Ness are offering music lessons after or before school. They can teach any skill level, and offer guitar, drums, bass and piano lessons. If you are interested, text the phone number on the poster.

Reader/Writers Needed

This year we have had an increase in students needing reader/writers. A significant portion of our seniors use special assessment conditions. Unfortunately we don’t receive any funding for this. If you are able to help out it would be greatly appreciated. It involves reading the questions/information out to students and writing down their oral answers. Assessments can happen anytime Monday to Thursday and there is usually a weeks notice. If you can help or have any queries please email me on Thanks in advance.

Paula Green

Glub…glub 🐟

Roller Derby Fundraising

The NZ Junior Roller Derby League is currently looking for grants, sponsorship, donations and any support to help send Ink Spill and the first time world level team to France.
If you know of a business /person who could be interested in supporting the team in this way please get in touch for details about sponsorship packages.

Keep an eye out for some delicious fundraisers coming this way soon.



Louise and Inky (aka Ink Spill)

Counsellors Corner / Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

The beginning of the school year is a challenging time for many of us. New school, new people, new classes and new demands can lead to some (or a lot of) anxiety. This is a normal response to new challenges.

Anxiety happens to everyone. It is an important response that helps keep us sage from threats. Anxiety can also be a response to the anticipation of a threat. It is the name for a way of feeling and behaving, not a diagnosis of mental illness.

For some people, anxiety can start to affect them so badly that it dominates their life and gets in the way of them going to school or doing other activities.

It is important that we support young people to learn strategies to cope with anxious feelings. Having coping strategies helps us to be the boss of anxiety and not the other way around. Coping strategies are most effective when kids/young people practise the strategies at home and at school. If your young person is experiencing anxiety, building a partnership between home and school is very important.

Maintaining a connection with routines and coming into school regularly is an important part of supporting young people to manage their anxiety. The counselling team here at Ao Tawhiti are available to support young people as they navigate challenges and develop coping strategies.

Signs of Anxiety

  • Clinginess and problems with separation
  • Constantly seeking reassurance
  • Irritability, lashing out, or screaming when asked to do something
  • Being tearful or worried
  • Difficulty going to school, being late for school
  • Reluctance to speak, withdrawal because of fear, running away, freezing
  • Ongoing sore stomach, nausea, headaches (where there is no medical cause)
  • Increased toileting, sweaty hands, feeling out of breath, racing heart
  • Poor sleep

Helping your child with anxiety

  • Headphones with soothing music
  • Going outside/fun movement/activity
  • Belly breathing, 478 breathing, 54321 grounding activity
  • Use positive self-talk, e.g., “Feelings pass. I am going to be OK”
  • Make a plan
  • Talk to your child’s Home Base learning advisor, School Counsellor or Mental Health Nurse
  • Celebrate moments of success when your child stands up to anxiety

Some helpful links:

Helping my child with anxiety

A tool that supports tamariki to feel settled and calm

The Grounding 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Method

If you would like to discuss concerns about your young person’s anxiety you can contact one of our team for more information or support.

  • Bridget Scott, Counsellor, MNZAC Level 2: phone/text 027 829 4485
  • Miriam Denney, Counsellor, MNZAC Level 4: phone/text 021 795 309
  • Susan Ayson, Registered Nurse, Mental Health Advisor: phone/text 021 916 067

Bridget Scott

Floor 3 maker space

Students from Matt P and Craigs’ homebases and Matt’s 45 tec class have been developing the floor three balcony as a workshop/ makerspace. The space is starting to take shape, and students are starting to work on construction projects.

Matt Parkes

Ao Tawhiti Merch

We have some Ao Tawhiti Merch available for purchase. Please place your order through this form before the 6th April. Order form

All orders will be disbursed to your student accounts for payment before pickup. 

Jonelle Matthews

Entertainment is all about having fun

Heaps of savings to be had – eg. I’ve just saved myself $68 going to The Court Theatre. Who knew!!! as for those coffees and hot chocolates … and I do like a good movie. Bungy jump? Flight to Australia? Take a look at the link or come talk to me

Claire Cameron

Scholastic Book club

Brand new books for sale for preschoolers through to early teens from as little as $3. Not just books but crafts, diaries, jigsaw puzzles, flashcards. EVERY order gives 20% back to school for resources. Look out for the newspapers on level 1 and details on the parent FB page

Claire Cameron

Climbing Class 2022

Here are some photos from our 4.2 climbing class last year. Each week we visited both the YMCA Adventure Centre to do top-rope climbing and Uprising to do bouldering. Students are eager to keep progressing this year, and hopefully we’ll even have a climbing team to take part in secondary school competitions!

Zack Williams

Fundraising for Cyclone Gabrielle

Having our athletics day be postponed last week allowed us the opportunity as a kura to fundraise for those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. It was so great to see our ākonga come to school in their community colours and join together in putting on a great sausage sizzle and pizza lunch.

We raised a $648 in support of this cause and we send aroha and kaha to those impacted by the Cyclone in the North Island.

Ao Tawhiti Choir

Choir rehearsals are in full swing for the newly established Year 7 to 13 choir. We are currently learning Ka poipoia ahau, a waiata and the pop song, I wish I was a punkrocker. 

We rehearse on a Wednesday 2:15 – 3:00 pm in the Drama room, 3.8 New members are always welcomed. See Abby or Jess if you have any questions 🙂 

Jess Dewhurst

Any parents about to offer a work placement with a Professional Photographer?

A student is interested in the business side rather than the conventions etc.

Please reply if you can help

Kind regards

Kirsty McMillan

Breakfast Club

Welcome to Breakfast Club on Wednesday mornings! Students and parents provide cereal and pancakes for students to enjoy, for free, at Level 4 Cafe area from 8.30 till 9am. We also welcome help setting up from around 8.15am, and washing up as we go along, but often extending a bit after 9am. Thanks go to our existing helpers, including our shopper. We would love extra help, especially this term as sickness affects us, and ‘He rau ringa e oti ai!’ (many hands make light work). Contact Miriam for more information, email or chat at Breakfast Club.

Miriam Denney

Gateway News

There are two new means of communication for the Gateway Work Experience Programme this year:

First: Ngā Pae Tawhiti – Pathways Gateway and Careers at Ao Tawhiti website

This is a new website developed for ākonga, whānau and kaiako to communicate what Gateway and Careers are all about, what some of the main options are and the main opportunities coming up. 

Here is the link: Gateway & Careers

Please promote this to your families. This is a work in progress and any suggestions/questions welcome.

Second: When ākonga start out on new Gateway work experiences and unit standards I will be entering this into a blog in Arotahi. This way LAs and parents/caregivers can keep up with what is going on. The students will also be able to use this as an ongoing reflection of what they are achieving through Gateway.

John Schischka

Important Reminder!

We have multiple students in our kura with serious allergies to peanuts. Please keep peanuts at home and out of lunches.

Surfing at Sumner

Friday’s in terms 1 and 4 are special days. Kirsty M and myself organise a group of up to 30 students to head over to Scarborough beach in Sumner for surf lessons. On wonderful summer days it’s just fabulous to be out in the water. Rain or shine the lessons still happen. Currently we have a range of complete beginners to those who turn up before the lesson to get their own waves, with ages ranging from 8yrs upto 15+yrs. After the first lesson every beginner has been able to get to their knees or stand on their surfboard which is a wonderful achievement. There is so much learning happening on our Friday mornings. It’s also great to have parents join us and see them get on a board as well. Thanks to Aaron and Learn to Surf

Claire Cameron

Special Assessment Conditions

We are currently applying for Special Assessment Conditions for students who are sitting NCEA for the first time in 2023. If you have a relevant report and have not yet forwarded it to the school, it would be appreciated if you could do so.

Paula Green

Other Notices

Local Business

At Bean Sprout, we use only the finest quality merino wool, hand knitted by our handful of Grandmothers who specialise in the unique style of hats we offer.

Our team of experienced, highly skilled sewers with a superb eye for detail love to create our summer hats and book bags.

Our durable cotton fabrics are hand-picked each season ensuring these are tailored to both the latest and upcoming trends.

We believe in the value of local, hand-made and through this commitment we can ensure our customers are receiving the best quality products.

We love dressing littlies in all things colourful and modern so if this sounds like you too … Welcome to Bean Sprout.

NEW MANA AKE RESOURCES – Listening to Families

There is a new locally grown video resource available, called Listening to Families. Click here Short videos answering whānau’s common questions about mental health topics. The beauty of these are that they are short and deliver practical help using common language aimed for parents and caregivers to easily understand. More of these videos are planned for this year on gender identity, sleep, eating disorders and toileting.


Does your child require further support, over and above what can be offered at school? 

Would your child benefit from bespoke and nurturing learning sessions from a highly experienced teacher designed to accelerate learning and boost confidence? We would love to help. We are a team of dedicated teachers, specialising in English and Maths support, for primary, intermediate and college students. Visit for more information or contact Jenny 021 223 3349 to book a free consultation.

The Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts are growing rapidly, and we’ll need to do things a bit differently if we’re going to look after our environment and maintain our quality of life.

By 2050 more than 700,000 people are projected to be living in the Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts – 30% more people than there are today. Our population could double to 1 million people within the next 60 years, if not earlier.

Where will people live and work? How will people get around without increasing congestion and travel times? How do we protect our environment and ensure this remains a great place to live?

The Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch has some suggestions about ways we could help address these challenges, and they’d love to hear what you think. Feedback will be incorporated into a Spatial Plan and a Mass Rapid Transport business case, both of which will go out for formal consultation later this year.It’s time to come together to plan our future – please tell us what you think at The final day to have your say is March 26 2023.