Upcoming Events

  • Kings Birthday – Monday 5th June – School closed
  • Ao Tawhiti Matariki Celebration & last day of timetabled classes term 2– Thursday 29th June 2023
  • IEMs – Friday 30th June 2023 – school closed for instruction
  • School Holidays – Saturday 1st July – Sunday 16th July 2023
  • IEMs – Monday 17th July 2023 – school closed for instruction
  • First day of timetabled classes term 3 – Tuesday 18th July 2023
  • Conservation Week – Monday 14th – Sunday 20th August
  • NCEA Practice Exams – Monday 11th – Friday 15th September
  • Last day of term 3 – Friday 22nd September

Message From Anita

Kia ora koutou

Welcome everyone to the second half of term two and the transition to learning in the Winter months.

Thank you all for your support over the beginning of the term with Strike Action, IEMs, Public Holidays and Staff Only Days making for a bumpy start to our term. We are looking forward to the next five weeks of great learning opportunities. This includes our preparation for Matariki, which we will celebrate on Thursday 29th of June, with shared Hangi, workshops and performances after school. Everyone is invited and please let Niki know if you would like to run a workshop.

NCEA at Ao Tawhiti. We are talking to prospective students and have been asked about our NCEA programs and this has prompted the realisation that students and whānau in our school could have similar questions about our NCEA delivery.

We offer NCEA level classes, and all students are able to gain an NCEA qualification and University Entrance. Students can access scholarships for tertiary education and sit scholarship level external examinations. The national qualifications gained at Ao Tawhiti have the exact same value as nationally recognised qualifications gained at any other school in Aotearoa. Tertiary institutions don’t differentiate between schools. If your child has a University Entrance qualification, then they can access university courses.

We have two major points of difference from other schools. The first is that we enable flexible pathways for students to achieve University Entrance and NCEA qualifications. We let students access NCEA level learning when they are ready, which can look like multi-level assessment over different years. We have students who achieve University Entrance by the end of Year Twelve, and have this wonderful gift of an extra year of learning, or work experience, or early engagement in tertiary pathways. Our flexibility means students have choice in how they gain their qualification. It also means that our school doesn’t fit into the traditional ‘league’ tables that assumes that all students are doing the same assessment at the same age.

Our second point of difference is that our school doesn’t have a sole focus on NCEA assessment programs. We give students flexibility in their timetables to explore a huge range of learning, without shortchanging their opportunity to gain NCEA or University Entrance qualifications. This flexibility gives our students a chance to follow their passions and interests – even when these don’t align with NCEA assessment.

We are doing rangatahi (young people) a disservice if the only skill set they master is the ability to pass an internal or external assessment. Our goal is for our students to leave school with NCEA or University Entrance, as well as the capabilities and competencies to be innovative, entrepreneurial, compassionate, critical, agile and resilient. These are referenced by the World Economic Forum as some of the key skills needed for young people to be successful in the future. This is what our school strives to offer our students.

Later in the newsletter you will see a notice of upcoming community consultation which will give you the opportunity to consult on our NCEA programs, in light of upcoming national changes to NCEA in Aotearoa.

Please reach out to myself, or your child’s Home Base Learning Advisor, or Community Leader if you have any questions, or queries about any of the learning programs at Ao Tawhiti. Our school works when we have our three-way ‘partnership’, with students / school / caregivers working together to support success.

Ngā mihi nui


Messages From Senior Leaders

1-6 Community

Kia ora e te whānau,

It has been a wonderful start to term 2.

Massive thanks to Jenny Ward for organising Tom and his crew from Te Ahi Ora

who brought their fire staffs to teach students across the school how to play (safely) with fire. The fire festival at the Climate Action Campus was a huge success, with kai, music and fire; a really nice celebration with our community.

Swimming has been excellent, and I think you’ll join me in being grateful it is over! Special thanks to all of the LAs who went without breaks, wrangled and soothed tired tamariki, dried togs that were left behind, didn’t lose anyone and got some effective teaching in there too. Thanks to the team at Te Pou Toetoe for being awesome with our kids, and thanks too, to you tireless parent helpers who braved the sensory overload that is the heat of the pool and the noise of the changing rooms to help students get ready and be in the right place at the right time. We truly could not have done it without you.

I hesitate to say things will get back to ‘normal’ for the second half of the term, particularly with Matariki coming up. We are hosting matariki on 29 June, the last day of term before IEMs. We always need people to be involved, whether it is helping to decorate, running a matariki-themed workshop, contributing soup/ kai for the hangi, helping prep for the hangi, supporting performances and tidying up at the end of the night. If you are keen to be involved, please complete this form.

The success of the evening relies heavily on your involvement! This year, there has been a request for more lights and decorations. If you are keen to help set up the school but can’t do it at the advertised time, let me know and we can work something out. 

The themes of matariki are – Remembrance – Celebrating the present – Looking to the future. We are keen this year for performances to reflect this kaupapa, so if any students have been working hard to learn a skill that they would like to share with us during the performances, we would love to hear about it. Here is the form for performances.

Finally from me, Rob Hyde will run a Pokémon trading session on Wednesday 31 May between 2-3pm. Bring along your cards and trade them in a safe, supportive and educational environment.

Enjoy the rest of this term, whānau, looking forward to seeing you at matariki.

Niki Stephenson

RAMs Training Term 2

Kia ora koutou

We love to have your support when taking students out on trips. RAMs training sessions run regularly for whānau members and caregivers who would like to get involved. The sessions go over the basics of what to expect when volunteering to support an activity off site.

We will be running two RAMs session in Term 2 on the following dates: – Wednesday 7 June, 2:30 – 3:00 pm – Friday 9 June, 8:30 – 9:00am

Please RSVP via email if you’re looking to attend:

Anne-Marie Hampton


Proactive Physio at Ao Tawhiti

We will have a Physio onsite for a couple of hours every Monday morning.

They offer this service free of charge for all our students and staff if it is an ACC injury. If ACC does not cover the injury, then full private charges will apply to all students/staff.

This service will be available to us at school and at their Moorehouse and Langdons clinics. 

Students/staff will also have access to their own Four Corners of Health portal™ to manage their care interactively with their Physio, access their care plans, programmes and information. 

All students under 16 will need parental consent. 

This is a really exciting offer for our Kura. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the office.


We have heard that some people are not receiving the notifications that they should be on SchoolApps. If you have been experiencing this, please try the following and subscribe to your relevant communities:

Student Podcast

Otis, Elroy, Kingi and Archie have a real passion for sport, particularly rugby, but they would be the first to admit that they don’t enjoy writing. “The Huddle” podcast was developed as a vehicle to inspire them to see that writing is valuable and achievable.

Initially, the boys were desperate to interview as many rugby players as possible, this has now expanded into a real variety of sports people…

  • Kendra Cocksedge – Black Ferns
  • Hamish Kerr – NZ Olympic Team – High Jump
  • Karin Burger – Silver Fern
  • Christian Lio-Willie – Crusaders
  • Georgia Ponsonby – Black Fern
  • Jack Sexton – Crusader
  • Max Darling – NZ Breakers
  • Tamaiti Williams – Crusaders
  • Jay Geldard – NZ Mens Netball and E Tū Tāngata founder
  • Manasa Mataele – Crusaders
  • Martha Mataele – Matatu

The main focus of each podcast is to interview Sports people about their lives and careers, their interests, what makes them tick, their challenges. The boys also investigate how E Tū Tāngata plays a role in the lives of sports people. E Tū Tāngata

is an initiative focussing on tackling Tall Poppy Syndrome in New Zealand.

The Podcast has created lots of other learning opportunities for the boys; writing grant applications, designing merchandise, seeking sponsorship, attending podcasting workshops at the Library, working together effectively, as a team, teaching other students about Podcasting, subcontracting jobs out, like logo design, to other students.

This is now more than a learning project for the boys, they are absolutely motivated by the podcast experience and how it is evolving. It drives their days and filters into their attitude about learning in general. They spend much of their time contacting and communicating new interviewees, researching each sports star, writing their scripts and questions, editing their podcasts, thinking about how to improve the audience experience. It motivates them to think differently and take risks, it heavily involves their parents and other students and staff, it has become a community based project. They now see podcasting as a future career option, something that has opened up other potential opportunities for their futures. Through the podcast the boys have been able to connect school with the real world and now clearly see that learning can be powerful, meaningful and engaging.

The boys are clear that their love for this project has been created by the amazing sports people that have given up their time to come in and talk to them. They totally appreciate the impact that these people have had on their learning and lives. They are so proud of what they are creating and this is only possible thanks to the support of their interviewees.

If you’d like to listen to their podcast you can find it on Spotify here…

If you know of anyone who would be amazing for the boys to interview we would love to hear from you, please email the boys at

Level Three Homebase Challenges

With the extended time we have in Homebase on Friday mornings, we thought it was the perfect time to engage students on our floor in some homebase challenges. The purpose is threefold. To have fun, spark creativity and ideas for potential Arotahi projects and to build and maintain whanaungatanga and a sense of community. Two weeks in and student engagement is high with activities such as “land it”, Bridge to Nowhere” and “What’s in the box”.

The Level 3 LA Team

Spotlight on Arotahi on Level Three: What to do with a Lawnmower?

Jake Bray is keen to get into the lawn mowing business at some point and he needed a project and focus for this term. So, we managed to find him an old lawn mower and it has given him a focus for his Arotahi since.. While it is mainly Jakes Arotahi project, he has recruited some other interested students to help out – each with various amounts of knowledge about motors. The main goal is to strip down the motor, clean it up, see if he can get it running again and then use it to make a cart or “something”. The chassis also offered a side project which is in its second iteration thanks to a comfy seat provided by Clint (our property manager).

It has been fun to watch Jake apply an Agile Design process to this project. He has been learning by trial and error, tweaking the brief as new ideas and materials arrive and recruiting expertise and help as he needs it. It is still a work in progress and there will be challenges to overcome (like replacing damaged gaskets and replacing lost bolts) but he is currently living out our special character, finding learning and following his interests.

If anyone in our wider community knows what they are doing around 3.5HP motors, Jake would love to hear from you and we are keen to get some more “small” motors to work on. In particular, line trimmers or lawn mowers that might be lying around unused somewhere. If you could help, please let us know here: Lawn mowers and things

Craig Perry

Term 2 @ Glub!!

Here’s what we have planned for the rest of Term 2…

Glub is safe space for students aged 14+, we meet every Tuesday and Thursday in 4C after school, 3-5pm. We have topical discussions, learn new skills, play a lot of games and spend time getting to know each other. We look forward to seeing some new faces 😀


Homebase Kōwhai Happenings

Homebase Kōwhai has made an epic and super busy start to Term 2!

We have played in the leaves by the river with HB Toetoe, completed two weeks of swimming in the afternoons, spent Nature Play days out in the sun out at the Climate Action Campus, went to Tūranga to hear a kōrero pūrākau of Te Waka o Aoraki, attended Kapa Haka on Wednesdays, and a trip to Margaret Mahy! Back at school the tamariki have been creating, researching and making books for their Arotahi goals, doing team building STEAM activities, while also using so much tiakitanga, kaha and enthusiasm in their literacy and maths learning!

Homebase Kōwhai work hard every day using their Growth Mindset, or as we call it in our HB our ‘Rainbow Brains’. We are looking forward to the rest of the term and the other adventures and learning we will get up to.

Bonnie Dalton

Ao Tawhiti Film Festival

Here is the amazing Ao Tawhiti Film Festival submission poster designed by two Year 3 students,  Finn Kivi and Caspar Walker with the help of Julie Cooley. All film submissions are due at the end of Term 3! Get creative and get your films on the big screen at Lumiere!

Jenny Ward

School Ski Trips to Mount Hutt 2023

I am really excited to let everyone know  Ao Tawhiti has managed to book 4 school ski trips to Mount Hutt for 2023:

21st July 11.00am

10th Aug 11.00am

25th Aug 11.00am

7th Sept 11.00am

The dates are all in term 3 but we are starting to sign up this term.  Spaces are limited but I will run a wait list so that we can make sure we fill up all the spaces. Sign up is on a first in basis but please only sign up if you are sure you will attend.

Ski trips do carry an extra risk to students of injury or harm so it is very important that parents and caregivers are aware of this and only sign students up if they believe that the student is capable of making good choices around risk and personal safety. Our safety rules are not negotiable and students must listen to Ao Tawhiti staff and Mount Hutt staff at all times. A parent must attend to support any student who may need extra help or if the student is younger than 10. This can be another student’s parent if agreed beforehand.

The costs have risen this year and it is estimated that the day will cost around $120. I will confirm this once I have a little more information.

Below are the digital sign up forms for each of the days. Please complete a form for each of the days you wish to attend:
Ski Trip Friday 21st July 2023 – Number 1

Ski Trip Thursday 10th August 2023- Number 2

Ski Trip Friday 25th August 2023. – Number 3

Ski Trip Thursday 7th September 2023 – Number 4

Please email if you have any questions.

Kay Hayes

Hangarau Hapori update

It has been a busy first 5 weeks of Hangarau Hapori this term. 

Our Kai group foraged the gardens at the climate action campus and made the whole hapori a delicious veggie soup and flatbread. Back at school they have been learning how to make taco mince and soft tortillas from scratch as well as explore how to create a delicious and nutritious meal on a budget. 

In soft materials, the students have been exploring jewellery making or finishing off their garment for the Junior Toi Wearable Arts competition. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have been left inspired for bigger and better ideas for next year’s competition. 

In Hard materials, the students have been working on designing and carrying out individual projects. One example is a metal detector made by Jasper McNeill using the 3D printer and Laser cutting machine to build the components.

Jess Dewhurst

Mother of all Clean-Ups

On Friday, the 12th of May a small but dedicated group of students from the Manawanui Hapori took part in the “Mother of all Clean-Ups.” This event runs every year prior to Mother’s Day to encourage Christchurch residents to clean up rubbish along the banks of the Avon and Heathcote rivers.

The Manawanui Hapori is all about embracing challenge, and on this day our group had a challenge to clean up all of the rubbish along the Avon river between Riverside Market and Hagley Park.

We had a great afternoon out, and the students enjoyed making a difference to their local environment.

Michelle Verkaaik


Rhys Lewis off-site learning on Wednesday at the booth for KiwiBots at South MACH.

Rhys has been involved with KiwiBots for at least four years now. His team made it the national VEX Robotics Championships earlier this year. His team was top of the leader board after the first day but stumbled a bit on day two. However, this was the team’s first year in the competition. Recently Rhys’s design for a robot for the Colour Carnage competition won first place! You can usually find Rhys in the tech Garage for his Arotahi work on robotics. 

Here are some pics from the recent KiwiBots Canterbury Challenge.

Richard McCance

Level 4 Community News


This term for literacy we have been looking at speech writing and debating. Students have been researching topics that interest them and arguing in the affirmative or negative. To give those students who would like to the opportunity to debate their motion we will be holding a level 4 debating tournament later in the term.

This week in week 5 we had some of Ao Tawhiti’s Senior debating team demonstrate a mini debate particularly focussing on what rebutting is. Thank you so much Cammie, Jhett and Bella for supporting our learning on level 4 and giving up your time to come and teach us.

Noticing the good stuff:

This term we have started sharing examples of our Core Values and Guiding Principles in action. Each week in our Monday morning community meeting we share some stories of students demonstrating our Special Character. Staff are really enjoying being able to focus on the good stuff and we really do have a lot to be proud of as a floor. Here are a couple of examples of this week’s stories:

Two students were noticed staying behind after class to help Evan clean up the kitchen. They stayed for 25 minutes and were then overheard saying “we can stay longer to finish the job if you want.” A lovely sweet example of Whanaungatanga and Respect for the school and its equipment.

An LA watched as a parent headed towards the kitchen door carrying a really heavy load. A student immediately rushed to open the door and held it open for them. Great Aroha.

Climate Action Campus Days

This term we will be heading to the Climate Action Campus for three of our Homebase sessions. Friday 23rd June, Monday 26th June and Tuesday 27th June between 9-11. We are looking into the cost of buses but we would also like to ask for parents to come along and support and transport students. If you can help on one or more of these days could you please complete this form.

Another way to help could be to drop students off at the Campus but we will look into this in HB’s closer to the time.

Market for Cyclone Gabriel Relief

Thanks to all the students and whānau who supported this. We raised over $800 and students had a fabulous time showcasing the items they had made. We have two schools that we will be sending this money to.


This term we will be sharing stories relating to Matariki. We will be using various resources created by the Ministry of Education and others but we would love to include whanau stories as well. If you would like to share your whanau stories around Matariki please email

Thank you from:

Level 4 team: Evan, Libby, Dean, Alex, Suze, Kay, Steve and Ian

NCEA Level 1 in 2024 – Notice of Community Consultation

Ao Tawhiti’s primary objective is to empower students to take control of their learning. Therefore, we offer a range of options for students. Whether they are pursuing academic, vocational, or creative pathways, we work with students to ensure they have a well-defined plan that aligns with their educational goals.

Currently, learning at Ao Tawhiti is assessed against NCEA Levels 1, 2, and 3. However, next year, NCEA Level 1 is changing. It has been stripped back and has lost some of its flexibility. For example, certain subjects, such as Classics and Art History, are no longer available for NCEA Level 1 assessment. Furthermore, the range of NCEA assessments within subjects has been significantly reduced. Due to these changes, some schools are opting to replace NCEA Level 1 with their own certification while retaining NCEA Levels 2 and 3.

At Ao Tawhiti, we believe in providing academically rigorous learning programmes while maintaining a high level of student choice. Such programmes equip students with the necessary skills to pursue university studies, enter the workforce, or join the creative industries. Therefore, we believe we should offer a superior alternative to the new NCEA Level 1.

We propose that we create our own Level 1 diploma, which:

1.     directly aligns with the NZ Curriculum,

2.     is equivalent to NCEA Level 1,

3.   includes NZQA’s new literacy and numeracy co-requisite qualification

4.     maintains academic rigor,

5.     preserves the variety of subject choices and assessment methods that align with our school’s unique character,

6.     better prepares students for NCEA Level 2 study and beyond.

Because students automatically receive NCEA Level 1 when they achieve Level 2, it is not necessary for them to obtain Level 1 separately. Furthermore, our new diploma will provide students with strong academic skills, preparing them for Level 2. We believe that by implementing high-quality courses of study that meet NZ curriculum requirements and are assessed by our own systems, we have an opportunity to enhance academic achievement.

Subjects that can be selected as part of our new diploma include (but are not limited to): Art History and Design, Business Studies, Education for Sustainability, English, Geography, History, Mathematics, Media Studies, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Social Studies, Visual Art. Furthermore, students will be able to design independent courses of study through our Arotahi programme, and also access courses through STAR and Gateway.

We shall soon survey the community to gain your thoughts on our proposal. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email our qualification coordinator, Brent Silby, at

Brent Silby


Some students had the opportunity to engage with some of their sporting heroes at iSPORT last week.

Megan Gould

Radian Measure at MM

On Tuesday afternoon the 8PHY class went to Margaret Mahy Playground to investigate Radian Measure. Ākonga measured out a radian on the large grass circle and then spun the large turntable with a period of 2pi seconds to visualise 1 radian per second.

Gregory O’Neill

Scholastic Bookclub – new books and more

Scholastic book club is a catalogue full of new books and crafts where 15% of every order comes back to school. Books start from as little as $3 so think birthdays, own library, read together at bedtime, even save for that special occasion. There are books suitable for preschoolers all the way through to teenagers so a wonderful range.

A very special school event is coming after July holidays Emoji so consider buying a book or two and leave at reception??

Issue 4 is just out, where you will find inside: Matariki, microscope sets, solar & salt robots, baking kit for kids inc measuring cups, Manga, Spy kits, Lego, Pokemon, heaps of Minecraft, football heroes, basic politics, phonic sets, Marvel, Dog Man, David Walliams, Roblox, spelling, history, Egyptians, Ella & Olivia, Babysitters Club set I can go on and on so instead have a look at the link below or download the app LOOP to place your order.

Claire Cameron (usually found in various HBs on the ground floor)

Other Notices