Ao Tawhiti Newsletter October 2nd 2021

Upcoming Events

  • School Holidays 2nd October- 17th October
  • IEM’s 1st October- School closed for instruction
  • IEM’s 17th October- School closed for instruction
  • Labour Day 25th October – School closed for instruction
  • Canterbury Anniversary Day 12th November- School closed for instruction

Message From Anita

Welcome to the end of term three. It has been an eventful term with the lockdown in the middle of
the term. Well done to all the whānau and students who participated in online learning and other
experiences during the lockdown. It was great to see people taking advantage of the time to create
new learnings and experiences.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight four examples of learning that exemplify our Special
Character from this term. All of these examples stem from students being able to follow their
passions and interests, which is central in ensuring that our rangatahi retain their love of learning.
The first is the inclusion of te reo Māori in our elevators. This is the result of the mahi of a student,
Rangimarie Te’evale-Hunt. Two years ago, Rangimarie reached out to Schindlers (the company that
services our elevators). She started a social justice campaign, which included going on Fair Go, to get
one of our national languages spoken in our kura. This mahi has been celebrated in the Education
Gazette Education Gazette and on Television New Zealand
The second example is the school fair which was organised by Roisin Scott, Rosa Opie and Lucy
Mayers. They worked on the marketing, business model, negotiations, contract and logistical
organisation for this event. Unfortunately, we had to run it according to Alert Level Two guidelines
which meant the external stallholders couldn’t take part, however, the fair was still a huge success
and the students were able to use this learning to support their NCEA qualification for University
The third example is the Nature Plan that is happening on our Climate Action Campus. Students are
planting trees with DOC rangers, looking after plants in the Green House, cooking over a fire pit,
building tree houses and so on. They are able to engage in all eight learning areas identified in the
New Zealand curriculum and this is happening for students who are choosing to be in this
environment, as opposed to a traditional classroom. I would like to acknowledge Vicki Buck’s
support and work at driving the Climate Action initiative.
The fourth example is the senior and junior productions which are student-led from writing the
script, direction, costume design and technological support.
I would like to thank the whānau, staff, students and Board who work so hard to be able to create
these learning opportunities. These are opportunities that add more value to students’ lives than a
traditional approach. They are the opportunities that make me proud to be part of the Ao Tawhiti
Unlimited Discovery community.
I hope that you all have a relaxing holiday break, so you come back refreshed and raring to go for term 4.

Anita Yarwood

Messages from Senior Leaders

Interesting article

If you were thinking of supporting a digital detox over the break, this article provides some good evidence for taking a break from screens:

Climate Action Campus

Despite the break in the middle of the term, things at the Climate Action Campus have been going really well. Around 75 students have been going on Fridays to enjoy the space. There has been hut building, planting, climbing, rolling, digging, creating and much, much more. The greenhouses, veggie beds and fire pit have all been a huge hit, and the vibe at the campus on Fridays is a truly awesome taste of things to come. If you haven’t been, why not try to pop along during the holidays to see what we are all about, Cowlishaw St, Avonside.

Next term we will continue with Nature Playdays on Fridays. We’d love you to come along and spend the day in nature on the following dates, look out for the sign-up sheet:

22 and 29 October
5, 19 and 26 November
3 and 10 December

Niki Stephenson

News / Notices

Ao Tawhiti Spring Fair

Thanks to Roisin Scott, Rosa Opie and Lucy Mayers who hosted our Ao Tawhiti spring fair. It was a fabulous day with fun had by all, even in the very windy conditions! They raised $1600 for the school. Thanks to everyone who supported them in such a fun day for our school.

Jonelle Matthews

5Sci Trip to New Brighton for the newsletter

To the beach! This term the blue 5Sci class has looked into life processes and ecosystems.  When I asked the class what type of ecosystem they would like to investigate, I thought they said the “beach”, and so I organised a trip to New Brighton.  While at the beach, the students told me, they had actually said – the “bush.” So, I need to get my hearing sorted. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a day with the council ranger teaching us about dune ecosystems and threats to the sand dunes.  Building our own sand dunes, we got hands-on, and later we counted species and looked at environmental conditions such as wind speed and temperature. Many thanks to Justin and Jill, our parent helps.  These trips are possible because of you.

Kate Armour

Ao Tawhiti Health Education Community Consultation 2021

Sarah Marshall

The day the dinosaurs came to HB Kōwhai!.

As part of the design of learning in our Homebase, we have been exploring areas of interest chosen by the ākonga in HB discussions. The tamariki identified that they were passionate about endangered animals worldwide, but especially ones in New Zealand. As part of this learning, we have designed our own ecosystems and endangered or extinct animals. We finished this term with a visit from Willowbank Wildlife Reserve’s tuatara, Frost. We had an interesting chat about the predators who were brought to New Zealand to control the rabbit population and got up close to these hairy villains. We also touched a kiwi who had been sent back to Victorian England as a specimen, but after being stored stretched and flat in the ship hold, left Victorians with the wrong idea that kiwis were elongated, thin, outstretched birds. Lastly, we spent time with 21-year-old Frost and watched him hunt beetles and worms as he walked around his enclosure staring at us. There were a plethora of questions, squealing, exclaiming and an awesome day of following student-led learning.

Melva Gill

HB Pōhutukawa visits the gardens

As a follow-up to the Tuhura (year 4-6) Community’s Bee Awareness week, HB Pōhutukawa chanced the changeable Spring weather in week 8 to go to the Botanic Gardens to make a tally of all the bees we could find.

We stopped in the Daffodil Woodland next to the hospital en route to the Magnolia Garden. There were MANY flowers in the Woodland but, unfortunately, we didn’t find many bees. It was quite a cold day and we decided the low temperature was what was keeping the bees in their hives…

Or maybe it was the helicopter taking off from the roof of the hospital that scared them away!

We had such a great time in the Daffodil Woodland that we didn’t go on to the magnolias. It was awesome to be able to spend some time together after the lockdown in such a lovely spot; the tracks through the daffodils made the best maze ever! The mosaic chair was the perfect spot for some daisy chain making and the cherry trees were ideal for climbing with all their blossom snow. Magical.

Suze Keys

Mahi Hāpori

Planter boxes are well on their way.

Sarah Marshall

Dance at Ao Tawhiti

Our junior dance class has been lucky enough to attend Compound Studio once a week to learn different styles of dance. This is our group learning a hip hop sequence.

We also had our Dance Showcase on Thursday night. It was great to see all the beautiful dancers. They did soo well.

Sarah Marshall

Market Craft Fundraising for yr 4-6 Camp

HB Marie and Tikumu have been working hard every Monday in Term 3 to create items to sell at a stall at Riverside Market from 10 am-2 pm on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of October.

Brings some friends and come on down to peruse our wares and maybe even take home something funky, handcrafted and useful.

There will be fridge magnets, ceramic dishes, tea towels, zip-up pouches, cat toys, jewellery and other bits and bobs too!

Here are some pics of the tamariki in action. The best quote while making tea towels was “(gasp!!) Kate are you trying to sneakily teach us Maths?!” – why, yes I was!

Kate Griffiths and Debz Dunlop

Canoe Polo in term 4

School canoe polo will be running on Wednesday afternoons after school in term 4 at Lake Roto Kohatu (airport end of Sawyers Arms Rd). No prior experience or specialised equipment is needed. Any students in years 6-13 that are interested should contact Matt P

Matt Parkes

Tākarao Hapori – Permission to Play

This term, our Hapori group has continued to flourish, growing in number from previous terms. We have continued with groups coding and playing in sandbox games like Minecraft where you are free to create and collaborate, Civilisation V which is loaded with strategy and history, E-Sports where we were establishing teams with all of the characteristics of sports teams. This term we saw groups grow around Dungeons and Dragons, Jackbox (a sort of digital social game platform), and as the weather has improved, we have had groups organising and playing physical games like dodgeball or Frisbee.

It has been a journey for me being part of this Hapori as I am not a gamer per se and I often worry about the effect of digital games on young people. Having said this, however, this term we have really seen student leadership flourish from the development of amazing dungeon masters to students now running group games for others and students teaching each other how to do things in the digital domain.

For the ultimate expression of our Hapori, we asked students why they see value in our group and what they get out of being part of it. Below is a collection of some of the student’s voices.

“You can challenge yourself, develop communication skills and strategic thinking. It’s great because you can actually talk in person.”

“I’ve been working on graphic art and doing esport – which builds relationships with other kids.”

“I’ve been Terraforming a hill to make a castle that I am writing about as part of my Self Directed learning – It’s like making 3D graphics for my book.”

“It’s a chance to be creative – both spontaneous and planned. Learning and collaborating with friends. Problem solving and politics, negotiating and decision making”

“Fun, Enjoyment, playing with your Friends, Collaborating”

“Learning redstone stuff within a game, Socialising, getting exercise and fitness, You can challenge yourself to learn harder stuff within a game.”

“Enjoying it, made landscapes, doing some coding, debugging/breaking code and reassembling it”

“I get to hang out with like-minded people.”

“Socialising which I am inept at”

“Figuring out the code within applications”

“It makes school more fun”

“Dungeons and Dragons is fun, A creative outlet. Story making and storytelling, Improve acting”

“It has given me a leadership opportunity around interactive storytelling and building friendships”

Craig Perry

HB Marie and Tikumu Lockdown Learning!

Our HB’s used Seesaw as an effective tool to share learning and connect with others over Rahui. LA’s posted a weekly menu of learning activities and students completed what they liked, when they liked, then shared their finished work on Seesaw. There were some really creative original ideas which were so cool to see!

Kate Griffiths and Debz Dunlop

Do a University Philosophy at Ao Tawhiti in 2022

Ao Tawhiti offers university-level courses in Philosophy. These are taught at Ao Tawhiti in a combo lecture/tutorial format as part of Brent’s 8PHL class with course material supplied by the University of Canterbury’s Department of Philosophy. Students who pass a course earn points towards their undergraduate degree. Historically our students have achieved stunning results in these courses. This is a great way to get a head start on university-level study.

In 2022 we are offering Phil110 – Science: Good, Bad, Bogus. There is also the potential for us to offer a stage two-course, Phil235 – Cyberspace, Cyborgs, and the Meaning of Life (for students who have already completed a stage one course).

For students interested in taking any of these courses, please contact Brent Silby ( so that I can provide more information.

These courses are funded through the STAR funding programme.

Brent Silby

Tree Planting Day at the Climate Action Campus

Nga mihi mo te pukumahi! What a fantastic day at the CAC! The sun was shining this morning as the wonderful Sharon and Zane (Red Zone Ranger/Ecologists from CCC) shared their knowledge with our tamariki and helped us to plant over 300 native trees on the campus site. The trees were kindly donated by the Christchurch Foundation and Meridian Energy as part of the Tui Corridor project and are all guaranteed tui tucker. It was a beautiful thing to see our tamariki so hard at work digging holes, planting, watering, tidying up and generally mucking in. Shared kai in the form of a sausage sizzle and toasted marshmallows on our firepit rounded off the morning. Huge thanks also to Vicki and our parent helpers without whom the day would not have been possible. Many hands make light work, and what a great time we had doing it! He waka eke noa.

Katherine Bauer

Lord of the Flies

Congratulations to all of the students involved in the 2021 Senior Drama performance of Lord of the Flies which was showcased on Saturday, October 18 at Lyttelton Arts Factory. The cast, crew, designers and directors should all feel proud of their work in creating a powerful and memorable piece of theatre.

The students have shown exceptional resilience in bringing this show to the stage after it was postponed three days before opening night due to the lockdown, and we are glad that they have worked hard to remount this show during a busy time for our seniors.

The plot of William Golding’s famous play, Lord of the Flies. A plane wreck strands a group of students on a deserted island during wartime. As they slowly explore their newfound freedom, what starts out as fun and games turns into a vicious battle for power when the groups split into two opposing tribes: one that strives for civility and another that delights in savage violence. The competition escalates into a dangerous, frightening climax, as this thrilling classic looks into the darker parts of human nature where it’s civilization vs. savagery and the mob vs. morality.

The stage set looked amazing and was thanks to the collective work of the 4DRA Theatre Design class who designed and made numerous props, set pieces, and sound effects. Special mention to Georgia Wallace and Frankie McGarry-Burford for their work as costume designers for the show which was no small undertaking, creating a range of looks for the characters as they faced the ravages of surviving their time on the island. Congratulations to the tech team; Ethan Rowbotham on sound, and LJ Devlin for his debut as a lighting operator, and to stage manager Derrin Smith, and the team of Eva Orpwood and Will Atlas for their professional support crewing the show. Danny Smetanina spent weeks working on the incredible set piece of the pig which the cast fondly named Bertha. Felix Horwarth was also an invaluable contributor in his role of student director and choreographer of action sequences.

The acting in this show is demanding and our students created compelling characters and moments on stage. As the other half of the directing team, Alister Emerson is very proud of this show and the work of the cast. Their performances were mature, nuanced and sustained. The audience appreciated the skill in their storytelling and were rewarded for making the trip across to Lyttelton. There was also a special surprise appearance by LA, Richard McCance as Naval Officer, who may have channelled Richard Gere in An Officer and Gentleman.

Lyttelton Arts Factory was a fantastic venue for the show and we appreciated the support of house tech Darryl Crimp and Lyttelton Primary School. A big thank you to the LAs who helped on the nights, Jill, and everyone else involved behind the scenes.

Alister Emerson

Visual Art Update

Visual art students really want to thank everyone who supported their art-making by buying their work at the school fair. The work was made in SDL time slots and Homebase times. Students have decided to have a visual art sale in week 4 of term 4, the exact date to be confirmed.

Holly Ramsay

National Trade Academy (

Spring has sprung and the baby animals at NTA are adorable! Check out the photos! Junior Ao Tawhiti students can visit the farm park, feed and pet the animals, and book miniature pony rides. Senior students are able to study part-time for free whilst still at school. See me if you want to learn more, Kirsty

Kirsty MacMillan

Other Notices

Aerial Classes

Try something new these school holidays! Aerial classes are now available for kids and teens in Christchurch. Aerial 3 is in the heart of the city centre and now offering an exciting new school holiday program where kids can learn tricks and flips on aerial silks, aerial hoop and other circus apparatus’s!
Wednesday the 6th & 13th 1/2 day aerials workshop $45 per session Friday the 8th and 15th 1-hour intro to aerials $20 per session
More info here: or look us up on facebook/instagram @aerial_3 

Fencing Holiday Programme


Ever wanted to learn more about bees? Want the opportunity to see inside a hive? Now’s your chance!

Learn practical beekeeping skills in a safe and supportive learning environment.

Tuesdays – Phillipstown Community Hub

The holiday programme is for children aged 7-13 years

Time: 9am-3pm 

Single days  – $60 per child

For the week – $285 per child 

For enquiries and bookings, please contact Kathryn at or 027 863 8730.

All PPE provided (except footwear)

Children and adult Term 4 classes are also available, please contact Kathryn for more information.  –