Ao Tawhiti Newsletter June 2024

Upcoming Events

  • King’s Birthday – Monday 3rd June – School Closed
  • Matariki Celebration at Kura – Thursday 27th June – 3pm – 7pm
  • Matariki – Friday 28th June – School Closed
  • Last day of timetabled classes term 2 – Thursday 4th July
  • IEMs – Friday 5th July
  • 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
  • Last day of timetabled classes term 3 – Thursday 26th September
  • IEMs – Friday 27th September
  • School Holidays – Saturday 28th September – Sunday 13th October

Message From Anita

Kia ora koutou

Welcome to our mid-term pānui 2024

We are in the midst of enrolments for 2025, so we have been thinking about the choice that families make to travel beyond their local school to join our community. The founding Director, Steven Mustor wrote:

‘My challenge to you as a prospective student, is to think about what you want from your schooling. How much of that future are you willing to hand over to a school? How much of that future are you willing to lead?’

Our school is unique in that we hand autonomy over learning to our students, which is exciting and empowering, but, like any high trust and personalised environment, it can also be messy and chaotic. The students who thrive in our school are the learners, with support of families and learning advisors, who want to build their own learning programs around their passions and interests. We appreciate the choice you have made in joining our community. We aren’t a mainstream school and we acknowledge that this isn’t the right school for all children. I don’t think that there is a ‘one size fits all’ school that suits every child. In practice, leading their own learning means that we trust our students with access to a range of opportunities and a level of autonomy over their time. For example, Trust Licence trips, Arotahi time, Home Base time, off-site learning experiences etc.

Thank you all for supporting staff when we have to work with our students to remind them of the guidelines put in place to keep them safe, the wider student body safe and to support everybody to maximise learning opportunities.

I am proud to be a part of this community and I am proud of our special character. Thank you all for your contribution to our school.

Ngā mihi nui


Messages from Senior Leaders

Y1-6 Happenings

One of our most beloved Learning Advisors, Bonnie Dalton, 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. Bonnie will be leaving at the end of this term. 

We are delighted to welcome the lovely Daisy-May, who will teach Bonnie’s students from the beginning of Term 3.  

Bonnie’s departure leaves an opening for a permanent position at Ao Tawhiti. We have had three internal applicants for this role. One of our awesome traditions at Ao Tawhiti is that prospective appointments do a presentation in front of students, staff and whānau. Presentations will be on Wednesday 5th of June. Nicole will present at 3:15, Lindsay will present at 3:40, and Mary at 4:10. We invite you all to come along and would love to see many of you there. It’s been a long time since we’ve had anyone present as these roles come up so infrequently and we’d love to reintegrate this as a valued part of our appointment process. Hope to see lots of you there. 

Water Safety lessons at Te Pou Toetoe have started really well! It is truly great to see that the tamariki have grown in confidence since last year, and they are rightly proud of themselves! Here is some information about the rest of the lessons next week in case you missed my notice on SchoolApps.

Another thing I have been enjoying this term are Student-Led Workshops. It is awesome to see that the tamariki have embraced the concept of, ‘We are learning to..’ and consider the learning that is going to take place in their workshops. Also super cool to see some of the students new to Ao Tawhiti this year running workshops. We would love some more whānau running workshops.

Niki Stephenson

Vapefree Message from Quitline

“From Monday 6th May, we have updated our eligibility criteria to include tamariki below the age of 18 years of age onto our Quit Vaping programme. This will allow tamariki to gain access to a personalised support programme designed to help them beat the addiction. They will also be able to access the full programme support via phone calls, txt and emails.”

Anita Yarwood

Matariki Celebration

It’s that time of year again! The tradition of celebrating matariki at Ao Tawhiti began many years ago as a way for our awesome community to come together. It is a time to welcome in the Māori new year with kai, waiata and performances, and for parents/ caregivers to run and take part in workshops, make food, decorate our school and really get involved.
Matariki 2024 will be held on Thursday 27 June, 3-7pm All students will need to be supervised by their caregivers. If you can’t be there but your child wants to be, please organise for them to be ‘adopted’ by a family as there is no active supervision organised by Ao Tawhiti.

Many thanks to the Luckman whānau, who are sponsoring our matariki event this year.This is strictly an Ao Tawhiti whānau event. We welcome the whole family to come & enjoy this special evening, and reserve the right of entry.

Order of events
2-3pm Set up/ decorate the school 3:15  Gather on the stairs to open the event with a karakia and waiata
3:30-4:45 Workshops and afternoon tea (soup donations)
4:45 Tidy up workshops
5:00 Performances
5:50 Lantern parade
6:00 Hangi and shared kai
7:00 Tidy up and home!
We are looking for lots of help and involvement from whānau, as we do every year.If you are keen to help, please complete this form and I will be in touch.

Niki Stephenson

Meal Train for an Ao Tawhiti whānau

Kia ora e te whānua,

One of our our Ao Tahwiti whānau had a difficult birth with their baby DJ a couple of weeks ago. She is also right in the middle of moving house! Two big life events in a very short space of time. In order to support the whānau, I have set up a meal train. Many thanks to those of you who have signed up to provide a meal for the whānau. There are a few spaces available. If you would like to provide a meal for this whānau (one adult, two children, not fussy), please sign up here

Niki Stephenson

‘Phone away for a day’ community consultation

The Ao Tawhiti Board has written an initial cellphone policy based on consultation with students and staff. We have opened up this policy for community consultation. Thank you to the 90 respondents who have completed the consultation so far. The next board meeting is July 2nd, so we will close this consultation on June 25th, to give us time to collate the feedback. If you would like to complete the consultation document than please use this link

You are also welcome to write directly to the Board. Email the Board secretary at

Anita Yarwood


Sibling Enrolments for 2025

We have started our 2025 enrolment process. We have a number of tours underway and there is a significant amount of interest for enrolments in 2025. 

If you have a sibling of a current student who is wanting to enrol with us, they must also be a part of the enrolment process we are currently running. If you have previously indicated you would like a sibling enrolled you will need to register and be a part of this enrolment process to be considered for the 2025 ballot, as information does not get carried over from year to year. 

Please complete this link to be a part of the 2025 enrolment process. 

Jonelle Matthews

Student Initiative – Baby Basket Donations

Any time from Monday 27 of May till Friday the 21 of June we will be accepting donations for our Baby Baskets. There will be a box just outside reception to pop your donations in.

We would greatly appreciate any donations, we are looking for baby clothes, blankets, baby books ,toys, basically anything for a baby that is in good condition! 

These donations, along with other items, will be separated into boxes which in turn will be given to teen mum support groups in Christchurch.

We thank you in advance

Luisa, Harper, Mila, Bella, Sam & Kora

Ao Tawhiti at the Movies with Hoyts EntX

Despicable Me 4

Date: Thursday 20 June
Time: 3:30pm

Cost: $10 each  Snacks additional and can be pre purchased

Where: Hoyts EntX across the road from school

“Gru welcomes a new member to the family, Gru Jr., who’s intent on tormenting his dad. However, their peaceful existence soon comes crashing down when criminal mastermind Maxime Le Mal escapes from prison and vows revenge against Gru.”

We have our own exclusive cinema on the day of release so we can enjoy this movie with friends.

Open to ALL students and whanau

It’s not a fundraiser, just an opportunity to have some fun together

$10/ ticket. The form to book tickets is below.

Look forward to having your company.

Claire Cameron

Junior Netball

Our Junior Girls Netball Team excited for their first game!

Megan Gould

Careers Expo

This term two groups of senior students visited Careers Expo at Wolfbrook Stadium, checking out options beyond school.

We visited stands including Camp America (work placements in summer camps in the US), Universities, Polytechs, Employers, Defence Force, and Careers Booths.

Kirsty McMillan

My Project Class

This term in Yellow block, the “My Project” class has continued to be a popular course. The aim of the course is to support students through a project of their choosing with the knowledge that a whole lot of learning can fall out of having a project.

Some of the things that are happening this term include:

Woodworking by Mika. Last term he made a dog bowl holder for his dog and currently he is making some steps for his home.

Sam has a number of ideas on the go but he found a short term project recently to resurrect a chocolate wheel that he made three years ago. This project was time critical as it was needed for the youth market in week 4. New learnings that came out of this were, learning how to use onshape to design a new arrow, figure out how to use the laser cutter and use trial and error to problem solve until he was happy with the outcome.

We also have a number of students writing scripts. These range from a Comedy about aliens travelling through space, to High school dramas. We are not sure yet if any of these scripts will make it to the performance stage but there is a load of learning to be had, from character design to storytelling and art.

Gryff is working on a recipe book. This includes his own creamy mushroom pasta with garlic butter recipe – homemade pasta of course, and will feature a range of Italian cuisine. Gryff is using a bit of experimentation as he learns about how flavours go together and online tools like which helps generate meals out of what is in your fridge. Once the recipes are finalised, Gryffs next steps are to explore how to self publish and create his own book.

Tristan is working on a slideshow about some super cars, some trucks and some modified cars. He’s finding images and information, like speed, horsepower, price etc,  to share with his audience. Next steps are to try and use the Slideshow as a quiz for the audience. 

Jaxon is currently working on model making. He is constructing a Lancaster Bomber. At the moment Jaxon is working on the painting of many of the parts. He is predicting that he’ll have the Lancaster finished by the end of Term 2.

There are also students working on clothing design and drop shipping businesses, Dungeon and Dragons Campaign developers, Game designers and on Thursdays with the help of Andrew in the garage, there is a group of students who are helping the eco store by dismantling a range of E-waste computers and photocopiers for recycling.

Craig Perry

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

My Kitchen Rules

This term in hospitality we have been preparing to hold our own pop up restaurants at school. We have studied flavours profiles from around the world and worked in groups to make a starter, main and dessert. Next we are holding a Pink Ribbon morning tea.

This group has some very talented students and our goal is to hold two pop up restaurants. We will be practicing our skills and then throwing ourselves into the fire by experiencing what it is like to operate as a restaurant for the day. 

We hope to invite whanau in to try out our restaurant! Here are a couple of photos of our mahi so far.

Japanese Dumplings

Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti

French Profiteroles

Kay Hayes

Calling for Volunteers

Kia Ora.

We are looking for senior students and parents to help support independent numeracy and literacy learning on Level 4. Students will be working on their own literacy and numeracy tasks but they often need support and help. 

We have a space set up for this where students will be coming in and out as they need to, to access help, and are hoping to set up a roster of helpers. Floor 4 needs this support in HB and green slots, Monday to Friday.

You don’t need to be an expert in numeracy or literacy to support this age group, we are just looking for people who are wanting to help with positivity and encouragement. 

We are also investigating Student Volunteer Army awards which could be a way for students to gain an award by volunteering. 

If you are able to help or would like to know more, get in touch with Kay in 4.3 or email her

Libby Boyd

Pokemon trade day yr 1-6

I’ll be doing a Pokemon trade day for years 1-6 in the kitchenette on Wednesday June 12th at 2pm. Bring along any cards you’d like to trade in a safe and monitored environment. There will be free cards for those without them and some give aways too! 

Rob Hyde

Student Achievement – Dragon Boating

Congratulations to TJ and her Dragon Boat team for winning medals at the South Island Dragon Boat championships on march 10th. Ōtautahi Paddling Club – OPC. They won a gold, a silver and a bronze medal.

Miriam Denney

Kairos Food Bank

12 students helped to organise food delivered from local grocery stores

Rob Miceli

Emergency Food for Students

We hold a supply of food for students who have no lunch with them. Donations to this supply are always greatly appreciated and we thank you.

The food we now aim to stock is as follows: tins of spaghetti, baked beans, instant porridge, packet or tinned soups, rice crackers and muesli bars.

Scholastic bookclub issue 4 is out now

The catalogues have been put into the year 1-6 bags.  There are books for teenagers and preschoolers as well.  Every order, no matter how small, gets 20% back to school in resources – yay!!!!

Not just books are available; puzzles, books with squishies, Matariki, diaries, Taylor Swift, books from $3.50, paint books, times tables, a microscope set, The Hunger Games Collection and much, much more.

The link to have a look through the catalogue is below.

Order via the LOOP app and get a $5 credit for the next issue.

Claire Cameron

Pink Ribbon Fundraiser

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Pink Ribbon Fundraiser. The MKR class did a fabulous job of making some very special treats for your donations.

We made just over $300.

Kay Hayes

Ski Trips 2024

Once again we are offering Ski Trips to Mount Hutt in 2024. We have 5 days in term 3 pencilled in at this stage. Trips will only go ahead if we have enough students to make them financially viable. This means spaces are limited to 40 students and their parents on each trip.

As with most things at the moment the costs have risen and Mount Hutt has increased the price of the student package in 2024. The bus company has also increased their price. This means each day trip will need to be charged at $150 per participant. This breaks down to $100 for the Mount Hutt package and $50 for Travel and expenses. 

This notice is to notify the community of the days available as well as the terms and conditions of signing up. 

  • To sign up, parents and whanau must complete the google form for the specific date their child wishes to attend. Links to the forms are embedded in each date.
  • Places will only be secured once a $50 deposit (per person travelling) has been paid.
  • Trips will be limited to 40 participants. 
  • Trips need to be paid in full two weeks beforehand so that we can commit to Mount Hutt and Ritchies.
  • Charges will be refunded if Ao Tahiti or Mount Hutt need to cancel. This will be done at least 2 days before the trip is scheduled. 
  • Students and support persons $50 deposits are NON REFUNDABLE. This is due to the school being charged a cancellation fee by Mount Hutt and the bus company. This is new this year so please be aware.
  • The package includes, travel, ski pass, 1-2hr lesson, boots and skis / board. It does not include clothing. Mount Hutt does rent clothing at an extra charge.
  • The ski package is an all or nothing deal. This means we get no reduction if students have their own gear or don’t want a lesson for example. 
  • Students or parents can pay just the Travel cost ($50) if they have everything they need for the day. They need both gear and a pass. They will not be able to have a lesson though. 
  • Students in years 1-6 will need a parent helper on the day. Parents can help more than one student and they can take other people’s children. 
  • Parents can just travel and support their child without skiing. They will still need to pay the travel cost of $50.

Students can now be signed up for the following dates: 

Ski Trip Friday August 2nd

Ski Trip Friday August 16th

Ski Trip Friday August 30th

Ski Trip Friday September 13th

Ski Trip Wednesday September 25th

Kay Hayes

 4SCI – Forensics

In 4SCI, Forensic Science, we have been exploring a range of biology related evidence that forensic scientists can use to help solve crimes. Most recently we have been looking at the Human Digestive system and what better way to learn about it than to mimic the process of digestion in the lab. Safe to say the kids found this interesting but memorable. 

Jess Dewhurst

HB Moa at CAC

HB Moa has been visiting the CAC every week this term. We are working on our Climate Champion Passports and enjoying time in nature doing gardening, working with the chickens and other fun things like building huts, blowing giant bubbles and climbing trees. It’s been so much fun and we look forward to getting back there once swimming is done.

Suze Keys

Matāuranga ngahere update

Anne-Marie Hampton

eSport Competition

Fiolixto Tiarso, Ben Lillig, Dylan Frost, Roland de Schot and James Swaney, with reserves Hussain Syed and Filio Tarso recently competed in the Tech Week highschool eSport competition at Tūranga. Unfortunately they lost out to a more experienced team, but are keen to develop their strategy and team play to compete against other local schools on a more regular basis. They are also keen to continue their training at Tūranga every monday morning during HB time. Anyone interested in joining should contact

Matt Parkes

Youth Market

How amazing was the Youth Market. The atmosphere was awesome!

A huge ka pai to all students who got involved. We had stalls selling hand made pottery, food items, 3D printing, home made fragrances, plants, laser cutting, slime, candles, macrame…and many more!

Court Theatre Tickets Offer

Please support our Court Theatre Ambassador

Emma Kneller

HB Ruru Celebration of Learning

Last week HB Ruru held a celebration of learning, presenting the projects they’ve been working on this term to whānau.

They created a class cookbook and showed us their Arotahi learning journals. A shared afternoon tea was enjoyed showcasing recipes from the cookbook.

The Homebase worked hard to make these projects happen. The aim was to provide the children with examples of Arotahi and to create whanaungatanga. They developed kaha, explored visual design, different genres of writing, set goals, met deadlines, developed confidence and created an authentic learning experience.

Jennifer Ward

Visions Unveiled: A Fusion of Wearable Art, Fashion, and Cosplay August 1st 6pm – 7.30 @ Tūranga


Please complete the following form ASAP:

This does not have to be the design brief as that is due at the end of the term.

Wearable Art Theme: Elemental – Fire, Water, Earth and Air

Fashion Theme: Daylight / Midnight

Cosplay Themes: Anime and Manga, Original, Closet and Casual, Genderbends and Crossplays and Group

The submitted outfits may be constructed at home as a whānau project but must mostly be crafted or handmade.

Jennifer Ward


We are desperately seeking forks. With all the noodles at lunchtime we think they may have escaped to your house. If you have any unexpected forks, or ones you no longer like, we would love to have them arrive in the first floor kitchen. Also if you see any lurking in the wild and would like to gift them to the kitchen we would love that too. 

Melva Gill

Other Notices