Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery Newsletter 11th September 2020

Upcoming Events

Term 3, Week 8 Starting 7th September 2020

Term 3, Week 9 Starting 14th September 2020

Term 3, Week 10 Starting 21st September 2020

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS: Saturday 26th September 2020 – Sunday 11th October

  • IEMs 12th October
  • IEMs 25th September

Messages From Steven


When you speak with our students about what makes Ao Tawhiti such a great place to learn, the feedback is usually the same.  Freedom, choice and respect for who I am, tend to come to the fore.  Of all of these, it’s “choice” that resonants for most students when they think of our curriculum through a special character lens.  Our curriculum, particularly at Y7-13 is heavily based on a choice model, but I wonder if people understand why we allow choice in the way that we do.  My major vision for classes (or if you prefer courses or teacher led courses) has always been to provide students with the ability to access a wide range of highly engaging courses.  Back in 2004 Vince Dobbs, the Director of Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti at the time, explained our curriculum as needing to enable students to pick and choose until they found what excited them.  5 week blocks were a byproduct of our desire to balance the need to try without fear of being stuck in something you didn’t actually like, with the desire to have time to actually learn something. In essence this is still how we structure our Y7-13 curriculum today.  Classes are not the only way to learn but they provide a way to engage with curriculum safely while you develop a love or need for that learning area.  The possibilities that our courses provide are one way that we aim to inspire and develop every student.

Congratulations to your new Director

It’s been an interesting few weeks for me since the BOT announced the timeline to appoint a new Director.  I’ve really appreciated the kindness, positivity and even the grieving that has been shared with me during this time.  It’s made me realise just how awesome this place is and how privileged I have been to have played my role in the Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery journey. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the school to where it is today. Every challenge, every story, every pathway, every conversation, has helped make me a better educator.  I’m really excited for Anita as she has a great place to learn to be an even better Director than I have been.   She will need your support, guidance and trust as she starts her Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery journey. I have absolute confidence that she will take our entire community to places that I could never imagine.I would also like to thank the BOT for their hard work. Appointing a Director is the hardest piece of work I was ever involved with (I was on the Board of Unlimited back in 2009).  It’s a gruelling and time intensive exercise reading dozens of CVs, shortlisting, organising presentations, interviewing and ultimately being trusted to make a decision that will continue to grow our amazing special character school.

Steven Mustor

Messages from Senior Leaders


When Y1-6 still lived on the Halswell site (remember that place?!) our enrolment process involved me interviewing prospective parents and students. A little over three years ago I had the honour to interview this cool family who were travelling, I believe they were in Norway or Denmark at the time and we had a Skype call at some early/ late hour. This was the first time I met Jo, Tahu, Knox and Manaaki Hikuroa. They had decided to see the world after Tahu had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. I was impressed with how open and ‘together’ they were (when I thought about the craziness of travelling with my own whānau!) and how they had tailored their travels to accommodate their young family.
Knox started at Ao Tawhiti at the beginning of 2019, and Tahu became a familiar face at school. He would come and hang out with the kids and help with our daily karakia and waiata. He became an active part of our whanau hui.

Last year Tahu volunteered as first guitarist for our Ao Tawhiti/ Hagley combined kapa haka group, Te Waipapa o te Ao Tawhiti. He was kind and patient, showing typical virtues of Ngati Ruanui. He was a talented musician who could play a tune he had never heard before with ease. He will be missed by those whom he supported in kapa haka, and all of us.

The family posted the following message:
Tahu Andrew Hikuroa
7 October 1982 – 4 September 2020

On Friday night, with Knox, Manaaki and Jo at his side, Tahu passed away after living with brain cancer for 3.5 years.

Kua hinga te totara i te wao nui a Tane
A totara tree has fallen in the forest of Tane.

A totara is a huge tree that grows for hundreds of years. For one of them to fall is a great tragedy. This proverb is said when someone of importance passes away and we all feel that it is perfect for Tahu.

We send our deepest sympathies to the Hikuroa whānau. Ka muri aroha ki tōna whãnau kua riro.

Niki Stephenson


Wow, what an amazing turnout for PINs this term! A huge thank you to everyone who has offered to run or support a PINs workshop, we are very grateful. There is a wide range of workshops on offer, a great combination of getting out and about, being creative, getting informed and playing. Walking around the school on the past two Fridays there has been a wonderful atmosphere with students fully engaged and having so much fun.
Next term PINs will be a one-day, one-off event, with heaps of encouragement to do something offsite. Watch this space for the date, and get your thinking caps on as to what you might offer for your next PINs. Nature play, horse riding, tree planting, dune surfing, picnic, op shopping…. the list goes on, and our location gives us the city and suburbs at our fingertips to go and do something amazing.
As ever, I’m always happy to hear from you if you have an idea about a workshop or some insight into how we can improve the administrative side of PINs.

Niki Stephenson

Ao Tawhiti Merchandise

We have been working with Gooses over the last few weeks to create a range of Ao Tawhiti clothing.

In the range we have; T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Caps and Bucket Hats.

Please use the following link to access the Gooses site to make your orders.

Once ordered, the clothing will be delivered to Ao Tawhiti and distributed from here. We will contact you when it arrives.

Ian Hayes


Our lovely friends at Hoyts have arranged for us to go to the movies again. On Friday 18th September at 3.30, bring along your drinks and popcorn, kids, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends to watch Astro Kid for the bargain price of $10 per head! Here is the link for the form for you to pre-order your tickets:
See you there!

Niki Stephenson

Breakfast Club – HELP NEEDED!

For many years, Miriam our counsellor has organised and run our Wednesday breakfast club. Such is her workload at the moment that she is looking to pass on the responsibility of organising breakfast club. We are really keen to have a parent or a group of parents take on the organisation of this together with a group of students.
It would involve making sure there is enough food for breakfast on Wednesdays, organising the students to do shopping, cooking and tidying up and supervising the cooking of pancakes.
George’s Business Studies class who run the cafe are offering cereal and fruit through the week. Wednesdays are a bit more special because we offer pancakes, Grizzly bread and spreads.
If you’d like to be involved in our awesome breakfast club, I’d love to hear from you.

Niki Stephenson

School Wide Event  – QUIZ NIGHT IS ON

Come and support our fundraising efforts and have fun while you are! The postponed Fundraising Quiz Night has a new date of Friday 25 September. Tickets available from level 1 before and after school, or from Jill (

Niki Stephenson

News / Notices

Homebase Pouākai – Writing Inspired From Our Experiences

Last Tuesday almost all of HB Pouākai went to Hanmer Springs for school camp. It was so awesome!! We played spotlight in the dark. The shadows were firmly wrapped around us as we hid.

The next day we went to the hot pools all day and spent most of the time slipping down the running waterslides or swimming in the rapids. Lots of people were wet and exhausted afterwards.

We also did a talent show on the last night. Clara, Lee, Aniwa, Raema, Henry, Oscar, Brooklyn and I did a dragon play! It was so funny! We were terrified but we did it anyway and everybody loved it! 

Camp was awesome!!!!! I can’t wait to do it again next year! Rose Withington

I heard gravel moving from footsteps, it was like a rockslide on a mountain. I was swallowed by the fierce darkness swallowing everyone around me until eventually I was tagged, found. Sam B

“Ahhhh!” I screamed as I zoomed down the new Conical Thrill waterslide at Hanmer Springs. I was going vertically down it. I barely had enough time to breathe before I was hurled up the other side of the slide. Walking off the slide my legs were shaking beneath me.Bryn

Me, Mum and Tash went to school camp, mum was excited to see her friends and I was excited to go on the new  Conicalle Thrill Hydro slide.

Every night we played spotlight. It was dark, raining and wet…awesome! I was in for spotlight about 5 times. Everyone was so fast!

The next day we went to the hydro slide, the black hole hydro slide was very scary. It was pitch black. I went super fast. I finally went on the Conical Thrill. I had to go on with someone the first person I went on with was Leo.

Thank you Debs and Kate 😄Kahu Morgan

Pouākai Super Powers

Bryn has been saving his pocket money and birthday money to give to the homeless. With our homebase getting out and about Bryn became aware of the homeless people around the city and around his kura. So he decided he wanted to do something – he even asked his family and friends to give him money for his birthday so he could add to what he had. Bryn managed to save $150.00 and last week went to City Mission and gave it to them. This is him here with Matthew Mark the CEO of the City Mission. 

At the start of the year we looked at writing about our experiences in creative ways. We looked at the publication, Toitoi, which is a journal for young writers and artists. Learners were encouraged to send their crafted submissions into Toitoi. We were so delighted when we heard the news that one of our authors, Mr Sid Gibbs was to be published in their next journal! Whoop Whoop!

Deborah Dunlop


Thanks heaps to everyone supporting the fundraising.  The Whittakers chocolate bars we sold at the end of last year raised $1,814.00 and the Hot Cross Buns raised $210.
If you ever wonder what the money gets spent on have a look on the balconies – we have Veggie Pods.  Also, outdoor bean bags.

Ongoing Fundraising:
Scholastic Bookclub – 20% of all sales go to school resources.  Books from as little as $3 and for ages preschool up to early teens.  Two issues a term and catalogues found on the top floor by the cafe.

LUCKY Book Club | Scholastic New Zealand

Quiz Night

Metals Straws Reusable Straws with cleaning brush.
Please pop in to see Jill by the reception

Entertainment Membership
Explore thousands of up to 50% off and 2-for-1 offers in our city and beyond; from fast food to hotel stays, coffee, ice skating and movies.
Instantly available, valid year-round and widely accepted. This year have a single city membership, the whole of NZ (holidaying in our own country) & Australia (thinking ahead for when our borders open up) or a 2yr membership. Have it on your phone/ device as an app and share among family – up to 4 devices.$14/ membership is to school

For those drink bottles, lunch boxes and all the clothing that doesn’t make it home. Custom make your own labels – iron on & stick on. Not only can you get labels but they also sell sunhats (ready for next term and the summer), face masks, towels, tooth fairy boxes, bags & bag tags, Bento boxes and much more20% of sales goes to school
ATUDAo Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery have always got learning experiences happening that need to be fundraised for. Fu…

Fundraising team

Hand Made Mask for Sale – Pay it Forward!!

With the upcoming mask mandate when using public transport, we have a group of Level 3 students who have become very good at making masks. We are now selling them for $5 each and turning all the money into food vouchers. All the proceeds will go towards food vouchers for families in need within our community. At the beginning of next term, we will be hosting a market (details to come) where we will be selling a selection of masks for $5 each and much much more. Again all the money taken will be turned into food vouchers. To order please contact

Kay Hayes

Lunchtime Clubs

Come and join a Lunchtime Club! Have fun connecting with others during a lunchtime club. You can opt to help support or just join in and make great friends over common interests. A meeting will be held early next week for support people/leaders.

Sarah Higginson

Film & Stage FX Make-up

Back in week 2, we had a wonderful tutor, Laura, come in and worked with our dance and drama students on how to create some wounds and amazing effects. We love having experts come in and expose our students to something new.

Sarah Marshall

Sarah M’s Community

Over the last few weeks, we have been very busy during L2L time.

Problem-based learning in Homebase hubs:
Each homebase group has a different focus during this time that all contribute to the idea of working towards supporting others and paying it forward.
Examples include: beautifying the balcony, working with 1-6 communities to get them more active, creating items for an Ao Tawhiti ‘Pay it forward’ Market (in week 2 of term 4).

Mates and Dates and Sexuality Education:
These are running smoothly and students are picking up vital skills for their journeys through life. We encourage you as whanau to talk with your students about these topics and what they are learning.

NCEA tutoring:
This is a fantastic opportunity for students to get further 1:1 support in their specialist areas, and great preparation with practice exams in week 9.

This is an amazing part of what our school is about. Everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner. It has been amazing seeing the opportunities on offer and I strongly encourage students to take up these opportunities. As I’ve said in the past, you don’t know what you don’t know! You could discover a passion!

Next term floor 3 is working towards:
– Pay it Forward Market in week 2
– A community day out in week 3
– A COL in week 4
– A floor PINs in weeks 1 and 2

As always, we encourage you to come and work with our students. Anytime, not just during PINs.

Sarah Marshall

2021 Enrolments – information for current families

We are running an enrolment process for 2021 now.  It is vital that existing families who would like to enrol additional children, including new entrants, register their interest to be part of this process now on our website.  Every year level will have a ballot pull and once this has been done  the school has to follow the waiting list.  For those who have already registered their interest, you will have been sent an email with the next steps to follow. If these are not followed by the due date, you can’t be part of the ballot.   If you have further questions or did not receive this email, and it is not in your spam folder, please contact so we can help.

Jacinta Buist


Aaron from Sumner ( has been in touch to offer surfing lessons to our students. The six week course will begin on the first Friday of term 1, 16 October at 10am. The cost is $168 and there are 24 places available. If your student is keen, please contact Claire Cameron ( Parents will need to help transport their child.

While parent help makes things easier of course we also have the bus option. It does mean people have to be prompt and ready to go  and have money for the bus.  $3 with a metrocard, $5 without.

Claire Cameron


4Sci students have been learning how to produce bio-ethanol fuel

4Sience Update

Other Notices