Upcoming Events

  • School Holidays – 23rd September – 8th October
  • IEMs – Monday 9th October
  • First day of instruction for Term 4 – Tuesday 10th October
  • Labour Day – Monday 23rd October – School closed
  • Last day for students in years 11, 12 & 13 (study leave begins) – Tuesday 31st October
  • NCEA Exams Begin – Wednesday 1st November
  • Graduation 2023 – Thursday 2nd November
  • NCEA Exams begin – Monday 6th November
  • Canterbury Anniversary – Friday 17th November – School closed
  • Staff only day – Monday 20th November – School closed for instruction
  • Ao Tawhiti Film Festival – Monday 27th November
  • Transition day for students new to Ao Tawhiti – Wednesday 29th November 10am-2pm
  • Last day of School 2023 – Thursday 14th December
  • Summer Holidays – Friday 15th December – Sunday 28th January
  • Teacher Only Day – Monday 29th January – School closed for instruction
  • Teacher Only Day – Tuesday 30th January – School closed for instruction
  • IEMs – Wednesday 31st January – School closed for instruction
  • IEMs – Thursday 1st February – School closed for instruction
  • Teacher Only Day – Friday 2nd February – School closed for instruction
  • Mihi Whakatau – Monday 5th February
  • Waitangi Day – Tuesday 6th February – School closed
  • First day of regular timetable – Wednesday 7th February

Message From Anita

Welcome to the end of term three. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the term, the kaimahi (staff), tauira (students), whānau and hapori (community). It has been a great term.

Alexandra K. Trenfor wrote, ‘The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see’. I don’t know who Alexandra K. Trenfor is, but I love the resonance that this statement has with our school’s special character. Our Learning Advisors work hard to equip our tamariki and rangatahi with the skills, knowledge and competencies to successfully navigate their own path in the world. Our aim is to provide scaffolded support so our students can explore their own passions and interests, as opposed to predetermining what our students should be focusing on.

Scaffolded support does include the teaching and learning of foundational knowledge, and I want to acknowledge the work done by our Learning Advisors in Years 1- 10, as they upskill themselves to effectively teach numeracy and literacy through professional development. I also want to take this opportunity to wish our senior students well as they finish school early in term four, and begin study leave. Thank you to our graduating students and whānau for the fabulous contributions you have made to our school over the years. We are looking forward to celebrating your achievements at our graduation ceremony on Thursday 2 November.

I hope everyone has a great holiday break – and the weather cooperates with us. I look forward to seeing everyone back and energized for a busy final term of the year.


Messages from Senior Leaders

Programming Māori Potential Success

Programming Māori Potential is a digital start-up accelerator using hackathon and design thinking methodologies to help students to focus on solving a wicked problem, using digital technology as a solution. This year we had a great group of our Māori ākonga work with their mentors Josh Robles-McGill and Chante Botica from Pariheretia Trust to develop an app that helps people to learn te reo Māori. The students Flynn, Pippa, Whatuariki, Benjamin and Nevaeh did a great job and won the People’s Choice Award for their idea. The feedback from the trust was, ‘the rangatahi were amazing to work with and full of life. Their idea was awesome and they put a lot of work into it, they also walked away with the People’s Choice Award! Well done!


CAC Update

Lots has been happening this term at the Climate Action Campus.

We are now up to 15 schools, and it has been truly wonderful to see collaboration between Burnside and 2 Ao Tawhiti HBs as Bianca Woyak has been supporting us to build a habitat for the NZ native Boulder Copper butterfly.

Rachel and I spent a couple of days at the Innovation Expo at Te Pae. Lots of people came to visit our stall and ask all about us and it was wonderful to have so much interest in the Climate Action Campus. I love all of the connections it engenders.

We farewelled Jon this term, and welcomed Simon as our ‘man who can’! We are lucky to have some great people who want to work with us, and Simon has made the structure for our pizza oven before Kerry from Gapfiller and the boys got stuck into building the oven itself.

Many thanks to several volunteers who have come to work at the campus including a group from AECOM, the workplace of an Ao Tawhiti parent. Thank you for your 2 mornings and generous donation. If your place of work has volunteer hours/ donations to use up, we can put them to use and give them lots of value! Get in touch.

Sadly there have been a lot of break-ins at the campus, resulting in vandalism to both the CAC site and Te Aratai. We are hopeful that once the demolition is completed and the site looks tidier that this will occur less. Watch this space for a working bee next term to tidy up the campus.

Finally, masses of luck to the team as the campus hosts the inaugural Spring Fair this coming Sunday 24 September, 10-2, 180 Avonside Drive. There will be stalls, food trucks, an incredible raffle and much, much more – bring the whole whānau. 

Niki Stephenson

Code Club

Every Tuesday afternoon a few committed parents come to Ao Tawhiti and run a Junior (Y3–6) Code Club in the level 1 kitchen. This is a hugely popular activity, and students have the opportunity to work on their passion for coding for an hour. Our fabulous parent volunteers – Leon, Justine and Dimitri – have asked me to put a request for support in this newsletter. Please see what Dimitri says;

Essentially, we are seeking other parents. The only requirement is availability on Tuesday afternoons. There’s no need for a background in IT or coding. Code Club Aotearoa has requested that all volunteer parents be vetted through their own process prior to participating in the in-school sessions. It’s best to anticipate this step!

Remember we say that your child may not want you at school? Well, this could be your opportunity to come and help out some other students if you have an hour spare on a Tuesday between 1.30 – 2.30. Feel free to ask Niki for further info.

Niki Stephenson

Visitors to our school

We had a visit from a group of Singaporean educators, led by Dr Hanin Binte Hussain. She is an ex-parent, the mum of Deen Coulson who attended Discovery 1 and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti. It was great to be able to share our special character, our curriculum, our learning programs and our educational experience with overseas educators. Thank you to the wonderful rangatahi who toured them around the school.


Community Consultation

There are a couple of initiatives we are interested in gathering your opinions on. Please read on and complete the forms if you have something you would like us to know.
Cohort Entry

We are considering introducing cohort entry for our new entrants and are interested in your views on this initiative. Please complete this form

by Sunday 15 October.Cohort entry means one start date for a group of tamariki at the beginning of the term after they turn 5. Currently, we encourage this but do not mandate it. Ao Tawhiti being the school it is, we will continue to support families to start their new entrants on a date that suits their child and whānau, however, we want to explore the idea of cohort entry because it has many benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Cohorts of new entrants begin building relationships with the group from the first day
  • Cohorts can be more settled and less disruptive
  • Routines can be quickly established 
  • The 10 week literacy teaching blocks allow students continuity of learning through the whole block
  • The unsettling nature of having students start throughout the term as they turn 5 can be avoided

In order to present a balanced argument, there are points against cohort entry:

  • Students who may be school-ready having to remain at preschool
  • A potential added cost for whānau who are paying for preschool, although the child qualifies for 20 hours free ECE until they start school
  • Impact on early childhood services as more children stay for longer, and leave in groups

HB at the CAC

There is some interest in having a permanent/ semi permanent Home Base at the Climate Action Campus. This form is for you to have your say about this. There are many ideas about what this could look like. It could be a HB across Y1-6, Y1-8 or beyond. There could be multiple opportunities for multiple students to go on a termly basis, or any other way of organising it that we haven’t yet thought of!
Benefits of having a permanent HB at the CAC include, but are not limited to:

  • Students who are passionate about taking action against climate change can have multiple opportunities to engage in activities there
  • Students who find being indoors for most of the time will have space to explore
  • The special character of our kura can be lived in a different setting

Potential drawbacks:

  • Isolation from other LAs and peers
  • Limited access to the resources in the CBD

If you are keen to give us your opinion on this, please complete this form.

Niki Stephenson


Kapa Haka Performance

“Yesterday the homebases from the year 1-3 community went to the library to do a Kapa Haka performance. Together we walked for at least 20 minutes to Turanga. When we got there we waited and waited. I felt shy, bored and tired. 

Then we practised. We all wore black clothes. 

Next we walked upstairs, we had to wait some more, so we had stories. 

At last we went to the Green Room. We waited some more and we took our shoes and socks off. Finally we went on stage and sang. I felt proud of myself because I overcame my fear. 

Then we walked back to school. I was hungry and thirsty. At last we had an ice-block, the ice block was cold, I was happy because I was super hot. I’m glad we did the Kapa Haka performance because I overcame my fear of performing.” 

by Cypress Shipp, year 3

Uncover the Unity of Childhood Expression Across Cultures

Recently,  with the support of AoTawhiti parent Carolina Nery, HB Kākāpōa a year 4-6 community was able to be part of this exciting international art and culture project. Our responses to this art project are on exhibition along with the artful letters from Brazil at the Christchurch South Library until the end of September.  

Artful Letters Exhibition

Project by Andreza Teixeira the Art Educator

Carolina Nery: Artist and Facilitator of Creative Expression

The “Artful Letters Exhibition” began in 2015 during a journey through Southeast Asia. While interacting with children in Cambodia, a profound realization dawned – the universality of these expressive artworks transcended cultural boundaries. Beyond the distinctions of cultural references, shapes, and colours that define societies, childhood’s innate communicative and artistic potential shone brilliantly. This belief in the unique power of art and its universal language became the driving force to foster exchanges and share experiences.

Since then, from India to the indigenous communities of the Amazon, our encounters have only deepened this initial insight. Art is one of the most formidable instruments through which, alongside the rich tapestry of individual identities crucial to a diverse world, we can create a society united by respect and sensitivity.

From Brazil to New Zealand, letters have traversed great distances, each adorned with drawings by Brazilian children envisioning the lives of their peers in New Zealand. In reciprocation, young New Zealanders have crafted their artwork, offering a glimpse into the world of Brazilian kids. Andreza Teixeira 

This captivating exhibition stands as a celebration of learning and cultural exchange. If you’re eager to join this current of love and creativity, please connect with Andreza. She awaits your contact enthusiastically, ready to share in this remarkable journey! Andreza Teixeira and Caroline Neary at

Melva Gill


The 2023 NCEA Externals Exams start on Monday 6th November. All year 11, 12, and 13 students will be on study leave from this date, and should only come to school for their exam sessions. Year 9s and 10s who are sitting exams are allowed 2 days study leave prior to each of their exam sessions.

All exams will be held on Level 4. Exam sessions are three hours long. Students must remain in the exam room for at least the first 45 minutes. After that time, students may leave as soon as they are finished.

The full exam calendar can be viewed online here:

During the first few weeks of Term 4, we will hand out Exam Admission sheets to all students with exam entries. Please keep it safe and bring it to each exam. The sheet includes a code (e.g A123) which tells students where to sit so that they are provided with the correct papers.

We will provide students with printed information about exams the week before exams start. In the meantime, students should start organizing a study plan so that they can be best prepared for their exams. Study guides available at bookstores. These can be very useful.

Any questions, please contact your HBLA or me (Brent), your friendly qualifications coordinator.

Brent Silby

Listening to families

Here is a link to a wonderful resource called Listening to families. It is a series of free video resources that answer real, everyday questions about health and wellbeing challenges facing our community, particularly our children, young people and their whānau.

Resources are being added to it all the time.

Bridget Scott

Model EU

Congratulations to our Model European Union delegates who represented Ao Tawhiti at the recent University of Canterbury conference on “Winds of Change: The EU, Climate Change and the Green Transition.” Archie Hayes, Pippa Marshall, Juliette Miller and Ruby Grace Miller all participated in the two day seminar representing various European Union member states and developing their skills in negotiation, deliberation and policy making. A very special mention to Ruby Grace who was voted best student, best delegate and won a full scholarship to University of Canterbury’s Euro 101 Global Europe Studies Course. 

Mahi tika ana!

Richard McCance

Donation of Food Items

Kia ora whānau, 

We hold a small food supply at school for students when they need it. 

If you are able to add something extra to your groceries and donate it to our supply, we would be really appreciative. 

Any of the following items would be super handy.  No nuts please.

Muesli bars

2 min noodles

Up and Gos

If you can help out, please drop the food off at reception. 

Jonelle Matthews

Violin Lessons at Ao Tawhiti

Lorenz Weston-Salzer is a Suzuki trained and registered teacher and CAD improvisation facilitator. He is open for teaching students from the age of 4* and older. There are a few options. Suzuki (for ages starting 4-12) is an aural based approach, focusing on learning to play the instrument before learning to read (just like how you speak before you read!) Parents attend lessons in person or on Zoom. If parents are unable to attend lessons or are older students I like to use Fiddle Quest. In both methods I like to incorporate and encourage improvisation and creativity. I am committed to continually developing and furthering my teaching ability and endeavour to foster an enjoyment and love of music. I currently perform in a 5-7 piece band called Yurt Party playing what we call ‘street party music’.

Feel free to contact me at or on 027 567 3696

Lorenz Weston-Salzer

World Rivers Day

We would love you to attend our World Rivers Day Event on Saturday 23rd of September 10am-2pm in the North Frame by the Edmonds Band Rotunda.

We are running a family friendly event to educate and encourage the general public to then go home and take action at their homes or along a waterway near them.

We will have entertainment in the Rotunda, our waterways groups with activities and displays, the stormwater super hero trailer, food trucks and loads more fun activities dotted along the North Frame part of the River.

I hope you are available to attend this is a perfect opportunity for students who might be keen to take action or get the public to take action.

Hayley Guglietta

Hangarau Hapori – Term 3 

In Hangarau Hapori this term we have been finishing off our rotations on the different areas of technology: Hard Materials, Soft Materials, Food Technology, and Digital Technology. 

Students have worked with felt to create softies and Felt flowers in soft materials. In Hard Materials, students created Foam Masks. In Food technology, Students created carmel popcorn and in Digital technology, students finished off creating their stop animation films. 

Next term Students are tasked with managing their own self-directed project within one of the four technologies areas. Their learning and creations will then be shared at a celebration of learning/market in Week 3 of Term 4. Watch this space to see what they create!

Jess Dewhurst

University of Canterbury Open Day

On Friday 8 September senior students from around NZ gathered for The University of Canterbury Open Day. It was a lovely Spring day – perfect to tour the university.

Our students attended course information sessions, visited the University Bookshop, ate loads of free food, won prizes at the stalls, toured a new accommodation Hall of Residence, and enjoyed the sunshine and entertainment. 

We wish them all the best for the future.

Kirsty McMillan

Kairos Food Rescue

A couple of weeks ago, Rob and I took 16 students to Kairos food rescue. We packed 50 banana boxes with food and essentials for people in isolation, and several boxes of produce. Many hands made light work!

Zack Williams

Sparklers Poetry Competition

Aria’s entry into this competition won first prize! “The poet judges were touched by Aria’s perspective on explaining sadness. We also loved the word “tingling” and used that as the title of the Sparklers team’s surprise poem to Kaiako.” Congratulations, Aria!

Nicole Cunningham

Science Camp

Science Camp this year was off to a Windy start with interesting weather conditions on our way down to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. We arrived at Unwin Lodge in moody conditions but students quickly settled in and got onto making nachos for everyone to enjoy. Special shout out to Benji for his mahi in sharing some of his culture with us and creating Æbleskiver (Apple Slices) for dessert! 

On Monday morning we all wrapped up warm and braved the elements to head down to the braided Tasman river, where Matt, one of the local Doc Rangers at Aoraki spoke to us about what native species of Manu (bird) can be found there. Adriana from Te Manahuna Aoraki, then spoke to the students about her role as a dog handler to locate and remove Hedgehogs from Aoraki National Park. The most exciting part was meeting Professor Zachariah Q Wigglebottom, the only certified hedgehog sniffing dog in New Zealand. After a lunch break back at the lodge, we headed to the Doc visitor centre in the Mount Cook village, where Matt spoke about how Doc manages pest control within the park. 

On Tuesday, we had a break in the weather where the wind was only intermittent and the sun was shining therefore we decided to complete the short walk up to the Tasman Glacier Lookout point which gave us a great view of Tasman Lake, Glacier, and Aoraki/Mt Cook as well as some of the surrounding peaks. After this we headed up to the Search and Rescue base where we heard from Ray the St John ambulance first responder and one of the Search and Rescue workers who help people when they get stuck up in the mountains. 

We then unfortunately had to cut our trip short as the weather forecast was looking extremely windy for Wednesday which would have made our drive back to School impossible. Therefore we made the tough decision to pack up early and head back before the bad weather set in. Overall, it was an amazing trip despite the weather and all the students had a great time and learnt lots!

Jess & Zack

Upcoming CCT Production

This school holidays former Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery student and current teacher aide, Michael Woods, has a new play opening. It is ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ based on the classic Lewis Carroll story of the same name. It opens Saturday September 23rd at the Malthouse, home of Canterbury Children’s Theatre. Who have been making children’s shows since 1952, notably being the first theatre company in the world to adapt ‘Mary Poppins’ onto stage in 1978. The show also stars two other former Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery alumni, Rachel O’Brien as the Knave of Hearts and Emily McGee as the Seven of Clubs. Despite the show being fully sold out, Woods looks forward to directing more show’s with Canterbury Children’s Theatre. 

Michael Woods

New NCEA requirements explained

As many of you know, NCEA is changing. The new Level 1 comes into play next year (2024).

A new page on NZQA’s website outlines what will change (and what will stay the same) with NCEA in 2024 and 2025. 

Content is intended to help ākonga and whānau, and is focused on the requirements to attain NCEA over the next two years.

Please visit this link to find out how NCEA is changing:

Brent Silby

Ao Tawhiti Robotics

The final VEX Robotics meetup for the term was held at the Te Pae Convention Centre as part of the Smart Cities Expo on Sunday 10th September . The Ao Tawhiti VEX team performed very well, and were placed  2nd at the end of the qualifying  matches. They partnered with the top placed team from Burnside High School and  won their semi-final game. However, in the final match, they lost by a narrow margin to a strong Hillmorton-CBHS alliance.
The team are looking forward to entering the national competition in Auckland early next year.

Brent Silby

Drama Mask Making

The Green Block Drama class has had lots of fun researching legends from around the world and creating a mask for a legendary being. They then performed the famous legends wearing their masks.

Emma Kneller

Harakeke Weaving

In 78 Plant Science, the students have been exploring Kaitiakitanga within Te Taiao (The environment). As part of this we looked at Harakeke harvesting and weaving, the students then had to plan and carry out an activity to do with these concepts. Thank you to Melva’s and Gina/Nicole’s Homebases for coming along and learning how to weave a flower out of flax.

Jess Dewhurst

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

Arotahi and Projects reaching out beyond the Homebases

Across the term we have seen a wider number of students working with our wider community onsite or seeking out experts off site. Thank you to all the people who have supported our students and shared their skills. This makes a huge difference to the learning and opportunities as well as supporting students to work with and to learn in lots of different ways.


This year we are focussing on supporting literacy across the floor. Our goal is to support students to grow and build on their literacy skills as well as developing a mind set to literacy that is positive. This term some students have been working on the film festival and most students have also been doing poetry. We have had fun working on some smaller pieces of work rather than large pieces of work which can be daunting for students. Hopefully this is supporting students’ confidence and growing their sense of achievement.

We have also asked families to complete a student survey on executive functioning skills and learning behaviours. We would love it if whanau would complete this survey for each student. We will use this information alongside our inquiry to help staff learn more about the students we are working with. This will help us make the most powerful changes to teaching and learning that we can. This survey is just for students who are in the year 7-9 community on Floor 4. Here is the link to the survey:

Zones of Regulation

This term we have begun to introduce Zones of Regulations as a tool for all students to foster self regulation and emotional control. We have just started on the mahi so we are still learning about the different Zones. Next we will begin to discuss how to use strategies to sensory regulation.

Pizza Oven Building

Students from our community have been working hard to build a pizza oven on our Climate Action Campus. It has been a labour of love over multiple sessions, but it’s looking great and almost ready for action! Thanks to Elroy Jorgensen, Eli Graham, Sam Catton, Will Buchanan, Jake Bray and Sam Fensom for all their hard work. 

Mount Hutt Ski Trips

This year we managed to get up the mountain three times. We had a full bus each time and often had to run a waiting list. Personally I really enjoy seeing the growth in students through the day and how they face the challenges of this outdoor education.  I also really appreciate the sense of community we build by sharing this experience with each other. 

We operate as a team and all members of the group work together to support each other and lift each other up. If you or your student has been wondering if they would enjoy trying to learn to ski or snowboard I would highly recommend coming along to a school ski trip next year. It is a great chance to face the challenge whilst being supported by others around you. So many students find that they grow a real sense of achievement and a real sense of pride in what they have achieved. Thanks to everyone who came along and took part in these trips. Everyone was a pleasure to work with and focused on whanaungatanga. 

Kay Hayes

Manawanui Hapori

Students from the Manawanui Hapori have been engaged in a wide variety of activities across term three. We look to get out into the community every Friday and embrace the challenges of new activities. Some of the highlights have been escape rooms, swimming, kayaking, Port Hills walks, bouldering, climbing, archery, air force museum visit, bowling, ski trip, ice skating as well as games in Hagley Park and at Margaret Mahy. Phew – it’s exhausting just listing them! Our students come up with the ideas for these visits and with some support, organise all aspects of these trips including bookings, transport, equipment, budgets, information emails and safety issues. It’s a highlight of our week to work alongside these students as they engage with such wide-ranging activities and experiences, and special thanks go to those parents who have supported along the way.

Steve, Michelle and Zack

Surf’s Up!!!

Come join us at Sumner for 6weeks of surf instruction next term with Learn to Surf at Scarborough Beach. 
Complete beginner or wanting to hone your skills – all welcome from age 8yrs and up.
Wetsuit, surf board and tuition included
Start date: Friday 13 October (first Friday back)
End date: Friday 24 November
Depart school: @915am for the #3 bus
Surf lesson: 10am in Sumner for 2hrs
Cost: $195.00
Please register by filling out this form.

Kirsty McMillan

Āwhina Club

A reminder about Āwhina club that runs from 2pm to 3pm every Wednesday in 2C. It is a space for students to hang out and socialise or work on self-directed work while they wait until 3pm to leave school. It is great to see lots of students starting to come along and have some fun while waiting for their younger siblings to finish school or just a space to hang before heading home 🙂 

Jess Dewhurst

Student Creations

Students have made great progress on developing seige weapons this term. They are all looking forward to testing their construction at the start of term four. 

Matt Parkes

Breakfast Club

Please help with Breakfast Club from 8.15 to 9.15 on Wednesday mornings in the L4 Cafe.  See Miriam or come along next Wednesday to join us



Miriam Denney

Variety KiwiKids sponsorship and grants

Sponsorship is around $450 per year towards school trips and camps, basic essentials and other activities outside school.  If your child is aged 4 – 18 and you have a community services card, you can apply directly on the website or with help from Miriam as the school KKS contact.  It can take a while for the sponsorship to be accepted, up to 6 months, but its really worth it and renewal each year is easy. 

For more information contact Miriam

Miriam Denney

Other Notices