Upcoming Events

  • Paid Union Meeting 1-3pm – Thursday 21st March – no classes for years 1-6, supervision available
  • Cycle Safety year 6 – Monday 25th & Tuesday 26th March
  • Good Friday – Friday 29th March – School Closed
  • Easter Monday – Monday 1st April – School Closed
  • Easter Tuesday – Tuesday 2nd April – School Closed
  • Last day of timetabled classes term 1 – Thursday 11th April
  • IEMs – Friday 12th April – School Closed for Instruction
  • School Holidays – 13th April – 28th April
  • IEMs – Monday 29th April – School Closed for Instruction
  • First day of timetabled classes term 2 – Tuesday 30th April
  • Staff only day – Friday 31st May – School Closed for Instruction
  • King’s Birthday – Monday 3rd June – School Closed

Message From Niki

Kia ora e te whānau,

Wishing you all a warm welcome to this mid-term newsletter.

Firstly from me, a huge thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome as I sit in Anita’s chair while she has a break. She has spent some time in Europe and will shortly visit friends in Australia. It is great to see her making the most of her time away, much as we miss her!

Our year started off really well with our mihi whakatau at Majestic Church and transition morning for new students. Huge thanks to our kapa haka tutors, Matua Sonny and Whaea Tūī for their support in making everyone feel welcome. In my mihi I use a whakataukī that I believe embodies what our kura is all about – ko te ahurei o te tamaiti aruhuia ō tātou mahi – let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.

As I wander around our kura I see this whakataukī and our special character being lived. Some of the student-centred activities I have seen this week alone:

  • student-led rehearsals being held for the student run production which will premier on September 19 & 20 September, save the dates!
  • students building and painting planter boxes
  • playing board games
  • using the scaling wall
  • HBs offsite at the basketball court, visiting Tūranga and Kairos Food Rescue, on a city walk, going to the Art Gallery
  • Visits to the Climate Action Campus
  • working individually, in pairs or groups
  • running a tumbling group
  • working with parents or mentors
  • learning instruments
  • using the recording studio
  • working on learning dispositions

There is always a lovely feel in the school, a gentle hum of people in a state of flow – students and LAs immersed in their mahi. It is a privilege to come here every day and be part of an educational institute that places students at the centre.


As you will all be aware, we are mandated to have a phone use policy in place by the beginning of term 2. I am in the process of gathering student and staff voice about phones and how we can best create a ‘Positive Device Use Policy’ at Ao Tawhiti. Strong themes coming through are that phones are useful and they can also be distracting. Most people are in favour of students managing their phone use, and of course we need them to use phones when they sign out for Trust licence trips. I will collate the information and draft a policy that will be sent to whānau before going to the Board of Trustees to be ratified.

Whānau space 

Many thanks to Suki for working on creating a space for whānau to hang out on level 4. Next to Evan’s HB, check out some comfy couches and pot plants creating a welcoming space for caregivers to relax/ work/ hang out until workshop time while soaking up the Ao Tawhiti vibe. 

Breakfast Club

Massive thanks to all whānau members who have signed up to help on Wednesday mornings at Breakfast Club. This is a longstanding event at Ao Tawhiti, organised by one of our amazing counsellors Miriam. Not only is it an opportunity to feed hungry students so they are ready for learning, it is an opportunity for students to develop skills in organising, cooking and cleaning up. We have heaps of volunteers on the sign up sheet, and Miriam told me how wonderful it was to have lots of help and see caregivers making connections on Wednesday. While we have lots of volunteers for this term, I will publish another sign up sheet for T2. Please do feel free to come along and help/ eat/ hang out on level 4 in the new whānau space that Suki has created. 

Ngā mihi,


Messages from Senior Leaders

Congratulations to our NCEA students

We want to congratulate all our NCEA students who met their goals last year. We particularly want to acknowledge everyone who achieved a qualification a year, or even two, ahead of schedule.

Our flexible programmes make it easy for students to accelerate and to study at multiple NCEA levels within the same year. Last year, over 16% of our Year 11s gained NCEA Level 2, and over 17% of our Year 12s gained NCEA level 3. We also had one Year 9 and eight Year 10 students complete Level 1 NCEA.

Nationally, less than 1% of students accelerate successfully in this way, so we are thrilled to see our ākonga doing so well. It is a real testament to what students can achieve when they are able to take charge of their own learning journeys.

Tino pai rawa atu!

Megan Taylor

Paid Union Meeting

On the afternoon of Thursday 21 March, any Learning Advisors who are members of NZEI Te Tiu Roa are invited to a Paid Union Meeting (PUM).

As most of our Y1-6 LAs are members of this union, we are rostering students home from lunchtime and offering light supervision only from 12.20-3. Please be aware that we have limited numbers of non-union staff. The senior school (years 7-13) will remain open as usual.

If your child requires supervision on the afternoon of Thursday 21 March, please complete this form by Friday 15 March. If your child can be collected, you do not need to do anything!

Niki Stephenson


Blue CAC Hapori

See the students in action learning how to make compost this week with Chris from the CCC, at the CAC.  Each week, they try out a different activity to learn to live more lightly on the planet.  So far, they have tried gardening, composting, cooking from the garden, and biking.  Watch this space for their next moves. 

Kate Armour

Scholastic book club

Every term, twice a term, Scholastic produce a catalogue of books students can order.  You may remember this from your school days??

It’s not just books these days … spy kits, crochet, finger knitting kits, clay, gems and rocks, robotics, educational flash cards, bath bomb make your own sets, colouring in books – the list is endless.

Books and items range from pre-schoolers upto early teens with the likes of the  Hunger Games series and classics including Little Women, Black Beauty and sets from Shakespeare (modern English – each story can be read in @1hr), Dog Man, Wings of Fire, Ninja Kid.

To order please download the app LOOP and follow the directions.  If you can’t find your students LA listed please get in touch, I am usually found Level 4 til morning tea, then level 1 til lunch.  Most people know me by now so just ask.

Check out:

For EVERY ORDER, no matter whether $3 or $300, 15% of that order comes back to school for resources which is fabulous – your student gets a brand new book and school gets points to turn into prizes.

Stock up through the year so you have birthday presents on hand or Christmas gifts.  With Easter coming up there are sure to be loads of Easter themed books in the next issue out soon.


Claire Cameron


Last Wednesday, we picked up rubbish for the CAC community so then it wouldn’t have heaps of trash around. We had to be wary about all the little bits of rubbish. We got two bags full of plastic and a wooden structure with foam on it. Now all the animals can’t eat any of the small bits of plastic and get it in their digestive system… and unalive. We wanted it to be tidy for the market on Saturday. 

Riley R

Introducing Callum Watt – Physio Therapist

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 too.

To make an appointment please talk to reception. Appointment are on a Monday.

Ngā mihi nui,

Anne-Marie Hampton

Soft Sculptures at the Art Gallery

The junior school have enjoyed trips to the art gallery this past couple of weeks; taking part in a workshop where they created soft sculptures after learning about the artwork that the workshop was inspired from.

Let’s Get Golfitt!

In “Let’s Get Golffit” we’re learning about fitness, healthy eating, and to play golf!

Rob Miceli

HB Kākāpō

These past weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement as our feathered friends have been fluttering from one art exhibition to another, spreading their wings in preparation for our end of Term 1 COL as an exhibition.

But what makes this journey truly special? It’s the incredible support and talent within our very own whānau! We are beyond blessed to count among us a flock of talented artists whose passion knows no bounds. From the captivating work displayed proudly at the CoCA Art Gallery to the awe-inspiring works adorning other renowned Christchurch art gallery and Jonathan Smart Gallery, our community’s creativity knows no limits.

At Ao Tawhiti, we believe in the power of unity and collaboration. Our whānau’s involvement and support are the beating heart of everything we do, propelling us to reach new heights of artistic excellence together.

Mary Lee

Mātauranga ngahere: Forest of Knowledge

Mātauranga ngahere weaves nature-based education, hands-on ​experiences, and community collaboration to provide a holistic and immersive learning ​journey for young ākonga. Rooted in the principles of kaitiakitanga and community ​engagement, this transformative program aims to nurture well-being, academic ​engagement, and personal growth while fostering a deep connection with the environment.

Anne-Marie Hampton

Electric Vehicle Competition

eVolocity is a national competition where high school students build and race electric vehicles, competing in several different categories. In 2015 an Ao Tawhiti team won the most efficient vehicle category. This year Jake Bray is keen to see if he can compete successfully, but first we need to gather a team of students to work with him. If you are interested in joining the team, please see Jake or Matt P.

Matt Parkes

Board Student

Boarding situation wanted for 17-year-old female Hagley College student.  Very independent and capable.  Please contact Ao Tawhiti/ Hagley social worker Alana on 0220461096 to discuss further.

Susan Ayson

Debating 2024

Ao Tawhiti has two debating teams this year: a junior and a senior.  The junior team had their first debate at St Margarets against Burnside High 2 last week.  The moot was “This house believes contact sports should be banned from schools.”  It was a close debate but Ao Tawhiti took it.  Well done to Izzy Staiger, Stephen Godwin and Alex Isdale.  The seniors have their first debate next week at St Andrews.  

Kate Armour


At our Kura we have a high number of students who require Reader/Writers to enable them to express their understanding. It is very helpful for the students to get the support that they need. We don’t receive any specific money to provide reader/writers but rely on the goodwill of parents and our TA staff. As a reader you are basically the eyes of the student and as a writer you are the hands for the student and you write the answers for the student.  If you are able to help out it would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Paula on

Paula Green

Visitor/Whānau Lanyards

We’re delighted to have you in our building, playing a crucial role in everything we do. 

Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone is a top priority for us. With a bustling community of staff, students, and whānau on-site daily, we must easily identify individuals who may have unintentionally entered our Kura.

We appreciate your cooperation in our safety initiatives that aim to create a secure environment for everyone. Kindly assist us by adhering to our straightforward sign-in process.

Upon entering the building, please take a moment to sign in on the iPads at reception, and don’t forget to sign out when you leave. Conveniently, visitor and whānau lanyards are available beside the iPads, which we kindly ask you to wear while in the building.

There’s a small exception to this process—during the quick drop-off between 8.45 am and 9.15 am, as well as pick-up in the afternoon between 2.45 pm and 3.15 pm, signing in won’t be necessary.

Junior Summer Sport

Students in our junior school have really enjoyed taking part in summer sport this term. We have two futsal teams and one ultimate frisbee team.

Megan Gould

Celebrating Success in our Community

We love hearing about the achievements of your children and celebrating them as a community. If your child takes part in anything that you and they are proud of, and you are happy for it to be publicised for celebration, please let us know at

Athletics Day 2024

We had an absolutely fantastic time as a kura on the 16th of February at our Athletics Day for 2024.

Ākonga came out dressed in their community colours and competed in events for the prize of LAs cooking their lunch.

Help with School Transport – from a community parent

I was wondering whether another parent, learning advisor or a senior student would be interested in helping out with school drop offs and picks ups. I’m happy to do either a paid ‘child care’ or as a car pool/ride share arrangement.
We are located in Strowan, just near Merivale/Papanui.

Please contact if you are keen to help out this parent.

It’s Bread Week!

Over the past week, students have been guided through a variety of bread recipes by our awesome hospitality teacher in our 4th floor learning kitchen. They have made foccacia, fry bread and rēwana bug; a type of sourdough created by Māori using a starter made from fermented potato.

These classes have not only taught ākonga cooking skills but are interwoven with cultural learning and history.


We are always doing our best to get the word out about the awesome things that happen at Ao Tawhiti. We have so much incredible achievement here and want to spread the word to the wider community. If you have any contacts within journalism/publications, please let us know at

HB Pīwakawaka

HB Pīwakawaka took a trip to Willowbank last week!

Charis Huhta

Breakfast Club

I just want to thank the fabulous parents who have helped with Breakfast Club for the last couple of weeks – it has been so much easier and more fun with you there! Also thanks to Julie and Kate who are the long term helpers for their support and expertise, especially on the steriliser!

We now have a WhatsApp group to organise ourselves, so please get in touch if you would like to join in.  Its good to know who can’t be there and then someone can step in if needed. With parents helping, more students can get involved as we have more time to support them.

Big thanks,

Miriam Denney

Other Notices