Newsletter Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery 16th December 2021

Upcoming Events

  • School Holidays– 17th December-8th February
  • Teacher Only Day-31st January 2022 (school not open for instruction)
  • IEM -1st February 2022 (school not open for instruction)
  • IEM-2nd February 2022 (school not open for instruction)
  • Teacher Only Day-3rd February 2022
  • Teacher Only Day-4th February 2022
  • Waitangi Day-7th February 2022(school not open for instruction)

Messages From Anita

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Kia ora koutou
Thank you very much for the warm welcome, encouragement and support that I have received this year from our community. I feel privileged to work at this unique kura and appreciate the contribution from our wider community. Our tamariki and rangatahi thrive when kura and whanau work together to create pathways of success. This is particularly true in the year that we have faced as the COVID pandemic has meant that we have made changes to how we work together. The uncertainty that the pandemic causes will continue into 2022 and I am confident that we will continue to work together using our core values of respect and kindness to guide how we manage the upcoming uncertainty while keeping the health and wellbeing of our tamariki at the forefront of our decisions and actions.
Have a wonderful Christmas break – enjoy the sunshine and I am looking forward to seeing everyone back at Ao Tawhiti next year.

Staff Farewells

Sadly we have staff who are leaving us. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the mahi and contribution they have made to our kura and to wish them all the best for their future endeavours.

Duncan Woods began working at Unlimited Paenga in 2007 and made an incredible contribution to the nature of education at Ao Tawhiti through his work as a senior leader. Duncan is leaving a legacy that advocates for the power of individualised and flexible learning for all students. He was instrumental in developing our Special Character.

Jared Gallagher has also worked at Unlimited Paenga and Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, since 2008 and made an invaluable contribution to both schools. He is a Technology Learning Advisor who is no longer working full time at our school, however he will be working with our students to support them to get NCEA credits from their self-directed projects so it will be nice to see him on site throughout 2022.

Jill Legg works as a financial administrator and de facto Mum to a number of students. She has worked at Ao Tawhiti for seven years and we are grateful for the contribution she has made to the administration team and the wider school community.

Liam Paulsen was a student and then a staff member at Discovery, Unlimited and Ao Tawhiti. He has contributed greatly to the smooth running of the school, as he has been instrumental in developing our Information Technology systems and the Property. His work has ensured that we have a great physical environment for our students to learn in and the technological tools to support self directed learning and individualised education.

Sarah Higginson and Alister Emerson have both been at Ao Tawhiti for two years and both have made a great contribution to the Drama programs and opportunities for students. Alister has passionately advocated for the Drama students and Sarah has passionately advocated for the importance of Well-Being. They have both been valued Home Base Learning Advisors who students and staff are going to miss.

Hannah Muster is shifting to Fiordland College with Steven and Jack. The whānau has been heavily involved with our community and will be missed. I would like to thank Hannah for her work with the year 4 – 6 community over the past couple of years.

Christina Bond has been working part-time as a counsellor in our kura this year. She has worked closely with a number of students and families and we thank her for her contribution to our kura.

Gemma Symes has been working with the Art students for term four. She is working at Rolleston College in 2022 and we thank her for the amazing work she has done in our kura in the short time she has been here.

We also have the following staff who are on leave next year. We wish them all the best for 2022.

Mattias Wieland
Rob Micelli
Marlene Te’evale-Hunt
Suze Keys
Holly Ramsay

I would also like to thank our relievers who have stepped in to support classes and students, often at the last minute. Their flexibility and willingness to accommodate a whole range of requests is appreciated.

And finally, Ian and Kay Hayes have both been granted a sabbatical for term one and we wish them all the best and look forward to seeing them both back in term two 2022.

Welcome to new staff 2022

We would like to welcome the following kaimahi to Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery for 2023.

Emma Kneller will be teaching Drama

Abby Robertson will be teaching te reo Māori

Jon Jeet will be teaching Art

Jessica Dewhurst will be teaching Science

Suze Lamont will be teaching Science and Maths

Jennifer Ward will be teaching in our Year 1 – 3 community

Katherine Bauer will be teaching in our Year 4 – 6 community

Anne-Marie Hampton will be working as a kaitiaki supporting students who struggle with attendance and engagement

Bridget Scott will be working alongside Miriam Denny as a counsellor

Susan Ayson who has been working as a Mental Health Nurse will continue this role in 2022

Steve Ingram will be filling in for Kay Hayes in term one

Stephanie Marsic will be filling in for Ian Hayes in term one

Welcome to all our new staff. We are looking forward to working with you in 2022.

Anita Yarwood

Messages from Senior Leaders

The Cameron Whānau

Huge thanks to the Cameron whānau who entertained us all on the last Wednesday of school with a wee concert of carols. Ākonga Oliver and Charlotte on violin and mum Clare on cello is a huge testament to our Special Character. So lovely to see our Core Values on display!

Niki Stephenson

News / Notices

Teddy Bear Picnic

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic attracted a huge range of soft toys and their children. Many teddies are frequent visitors at  We listened to Christmas music, read a book, learnt the teddies’ names, and ate some sweet treats. Thanks to Dom, Rosa, Roisin, and Level 1 staff for making this lunch a lovely end to the year. 

Kirsty McMillan

Yearbook 2021

Ae! Yes! We have a Yearbook for 2021!!! YAY!!!!

It is a small record of our year here at Ao Tawhiti, so, ALL your children will be in it somewhere…. I hope. Apologies that EVERYTHING could not be in it, however, the newsletters have done a GREAT job this year!

Special thanks to our Yearbook team;
The Very Special Instigator & Student Editor: Lewis Meeking!!!
Semi-quality control & LA Editor: ME!!!
Student contributors & my Yearbook Red class: Arabella, Ashur, Lily and Frankie,
LAs I approached saying, “Can you check this? Now! Please! Thank you!” LOL: Kate Armour & Megan Woods.
AND of course sourcing our publishers for me: Laura Borrowdale.

A very special thanks to Canprint & Design, Bryce Biggs and Bella Nicholson for coming in the last few days!

It is available for $5 and there is a limited amount…. BE in QUICK whānau!!!

Reminder to staff & students for 2022, REMEMBER to take a Homebase photo at the beginning of the year & keep snapping events throughout the year so you are ready for next years Yearbook!

Mihi Aroha ki a koutou KATOA mo ake tonu ATU!!!!!!!

Marlene Te’evale-Hunt

Solar Panels

Interested in solar power and saving the planet? We were, and so were a group of students who worked with us on Fridays to wire up suitcases with solar panels. We learned about wiring, conductors, circuits, solar panels powering the future, and began to investigate possible uses of panels at the Climate Action Campus, and on our roof. Thanks to Kia Kotahi who provided the suitcases and resource materials and to Orion who provided some funding and helped us examine Ao Tawhiti’s current power use. The photo shows us taking the solar suitcase to the Climate Action Campus!

Kate Armour and Michelle Verkaaik


As we’re sure you’ve started to notice, this year we’ve been running Glub after school twice a week. The premise of our after school space, Glub, was to provide a safe space for students aged 14+ to meet and hang out if they weren’t ready to go home. Over the course of the year, we’ve grown from a couple of students waiting for their buses, to a thriving club of students from all sorts of nooks and crannies in our school. It has been wonderful developing relationships with these students and opening a space to allow them to come out of their shells. Between discussions on identity, art sessions, board games, guest speakers and food, our numbers have grown from our first three students on day one to a good dozen or so each day!

We have laughed and played, connected with ourselves, others, and our surroundings, made new friends and learnt new skills. Over the year we regularly gathered feedback from participants and we will incorporate their ideas and requests into our programme next year. A huge thanks to the school for allocating some funding to run Glub, this will allow us to expand on what we’re offering already. There are lots of fun things to look forward to next year – Reframe workshops, yoga sessions, more cooking/baking activities, topical discussions around mental health and wellbeing, and of course – more games and socials!! Keep an eye out for Glub emails and for notices and posters around school. K’gn the K’gnome will also be around with weekly updates.

(Glub is a safe space for students 14+. We meet in 4.C on Tuesdays & Thursdays at 3-5pm)


Tilia Mehrabi

HB Pōhutukawa’s busy term

It’s been another busy term in HB Pōhutukawa.

We’ve raised about 20 tadpoles into froglets; we’ve grown crystals and done science experiments; we’ve learned about NZ and Christchurch history, including a trip to Riccarton House and Bush; we had an afternoon where four groups went to four different places – Adrenaline Forest, the Antarctic Centre, Dog Watch and the Museum; we’ve learned about pointillism, water colour painting and Raewyn Harris’ Koru Art; we’ve made a Rube Goldberg machine, learned more te reo and done an Escape Room; we’ve completed inquiries and written narrative stories, coded robots and made things cut on the laser cutter, and uch more besides.

It’s been a really busy and fun term, in fact the whole year, and we’re all looking forward to having a nice, long summer break.

Suze Keys

Climate Action Campus update

What a wonderful term it has been at the Climate Action Campus. Most Fridays have seen the campus buzzing with students experiencing the curriculum through play and action. On Fridays we see learning across every curriculum area – science, oral language, fitness and coordination, dance, drama, play, maths, art, social sciences as well as noticing opportunities to learn about the environment, bees, native bird needs, seedlings, plants, construction, right through to conflict resolution in the business of hut building!

Check out our facebook page to see some cool photos of the action happening –

We will have a meeting early in term 1 2022 to discuss how parents and the wider community can be involved, and where to next. In the meantime, why not spend some time over the holidays hanging out at the CAC and enjoying the space? We also need whānau to sign up to do some watering over the break, so that Vicki doesn’t have to do it all! If you’d like to help out, please click on the link below and add your name. There are 3 slots a week, please add your name and the day you plan to go. Even if it rains (in Christchurch over the summer?!) there are plants in greenhouses that will need attention.

Wonderful Junior Productions

Congratulations to the cast, creatives and crew our three amazing Jnr Productions. In spite of a last minute change in venue, due to our friendly Covid-19 Traffic Light System, every show played to packed audiences who sighed, gasped, had a ball laughing along, and were moved by these fabulous plays.

Well done to our incredibly talented student directors; Georgia Wallace, Frankie McGarry-Burford, Grace Opie, Nic Chappell and Danny Smetanina. The audience appreciated all of your hard work. The shows were beautiful, funny and extremely entertaining. A special thanks to our tech team of LJ Devlin, Thomas Booker, Ethan Rowbotham and our hard-working stage manager Derrin Smith. Thanks also to the staff and parents who have supported these shows over the last two months or during the performance week.

To the casts of all three shows; you were hard-working and dedicated to the shows, and most importantly you were heaps of fun to work with.

Alister Emerson

Gateway Students on Work Placements

Gateway students ( Year 11, 12 and 13) have been getting out and about doing a wide variety of work experiences in terms 3 and 4. They have been following their passions and interests and exploring possible future employment opportunities and earning credits through work place training. A consistent theme amongst employers who host Ao Tawhiti students is how impressed they are with the initiative, self-management and thinking skills demonstrated by our learners. We are always looking for more employers/businesses/organisations who are willing to host our senior motivated students for work placements. If you think you may be able to do this or have any questions about what is involved then please contact John Schischka Gateway Coordinator (0273096237 or

John Schischka

Brand New All Purpose, High-Quality & Colourful, Safety Mats!

This year Ao Tawhiti purchased high-quality gymnastics / grappling safety mats for a range of movement activities. From this purchase, students have been challenged in new activities and old favourites.

As you can see from the pictures, we have been able to conduct gymnastics and other movement-related skills. We have also taken up wrestling and jiu-jitsu which has been a favourite for some students.

It has also created a new space to teach PE within the school; that of the balcony. The outlook from the forth floor balcony is very special and I enjoy it every time. At this age I do not believe the students truly appreciate the view of an inner city school environment. Am I amiss in thinking there are no other schools in New Zealand that have this sort of outlook for a PE classroom?

I would like to thank the school board for securing the funds for this much-needed equipment for me to provide physical education and new learning opportunities.

If you have a background in gymnastics or grappling and would enjoy delivering those activities as part of Ao Tawhiti’s Special Character, we are always looking for and welcoming of that help and support.

Dean Crawford

University Philosophy in 2022

Every year we offer a university Philosophy course at Ao Tawhiti. It is taught at school and students gain credit towards a university degree. There is no cost involved to students. The course is Phil110 – Science: Good, Bad, Bogus. It’s all about skeptical thinking. We examine conspiracy theories, urban myths, and pseudoscience. It’s lots of fun and very interesting. If you’re interested, email Brent or sign up to 8PHL next year.

Brent Silby

Other Notices