Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery Newsletter 4th June 2021

Upcoming Events

  • Queens Birthday- 7th June- School is not open for instruction
  • IEM Day- 9th July- School is not open for instruction
  • IEM Day- 26th July- School is not open for instruction
  • School Holidays- 10th July to the 25th July

Messages From Anita

​Tena koutou e te Whānau,

It has been a great start to term two and I feel privileged to be able to walk around this kura and see the fantastic learning that is taking place. We have had a really positive start to the term and it is always great to see students make the most of the opportunities available at Ao Tawhiti. Highlights have included students taking part and succeeding in the Wearable Arts, Rockquest and Showquest. The junior students have been taking part in sporting opportunities and nature based learning. There have been some great activities offered during Hāpori with students heading out on overnight tramps, foraging in the red zone and creating fabulous works of art.
I am hugely grateful to all the staff and whānau who work to make these opportunities available to our tamariki and rangatahi. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of rangatahi being involved in activities outside the classroom and kura. I work with students who are struggling with behaviour and engagement in school – and a common factor for the majority of students struggling at school is a lack of involvement in activities. So I really do appreciate the positive impact creating those opportunities can have for our ākonga. Your work exemplifies our school value of whanaungatanga as the relationships we form through shared experiences and working together give us a solid foundation to nurture, guide and direct our students.
If you are a new whānau to our kura and would like to work with students in a lunchtime club, hāpori, homebase or after school activity then please do reach out to me, or your child’s learning advisor. The signup sheet for anyone wanting to deliver a workshop at our next PINs on Friday July 2nd is available on our website. The theme for this PINs is celebrating Matariki together as a community.

A big congratulations to Rangimarie Te’evale Hunt for her advocacy to have te Reo Māori spoken in our school lifts. We are the first government building in New Zealand to have te Reo spoken in the elevators and it is great to see Ao Tawhiti leading the way in promoting one of the official languages of New Zealand.

I would like to invite whānau to informal coffee conversations where we can have a korero about an aspect of school life. The first coffee conversation will take place at 1pm on Monday June 14 and the focus will be on supporting rangatahi through NCEA. The second coffee conversation will take place on Monday July 5 and the focus in this session will be the students in the junior communities. I will send out an invitation closer to the date so people can rsvp for numbers and catering.

Keep warm in the upcoming winter weeks.

Ngā mihi nui

Anita Yarwood


Thank you to all whānau for your support for our students who are allergic to peanuts. We appreciate you sending your children to school without peanuts and peanut items in lunchboxes and encouraging students to keep Floor Two and the majority of the school peanut free. This gives our students a safe place to be at school.

Please don’t drive into the private laneway beside the school at the beginning or end of the school day. We have 670 students arriving, or leaving the building – so the potential for an accident is high. We are continuing to work with the Christchurch City Council to improve road safety around our school.

Anita Yarwood

Messages from Senior Leaders

Foreign Languages at Ao Tawhiti

We have noticed there are quite a few students studying a range of languages here at Ao Tawhiti, from te reo to Japanese, French and Spanish.
One of our parents, Sarina Dickson, has offered to support Y7-13 students who are learning a foreign language on Wednesday afternoons between 2-3pm from next term. She wrote the following to me:
‘I’m imagining the kids could already be hooked up with an app like duolingo but setting them up on something like that could easily be done at the sessions. I’m hoping we’ll find some pairs or small groups learning the same language and if we advertise it to the larger community we will hopefully get some parents or other family members that can drop in (even for just 10 mins before pick up) to help with pronunciation/conversation etc.’
We’re imaging that if it is successful, we can extend the support to the younger studetns also.
Sounds like a wonderful way to live our special character!
If this sounds like you, get in touch with me and I will put you in contact with Sarina.

Niki Stephenson

Cycle Safety @ Ao Tawhiti

We used to host the Christchurch City Council’s Cycle Safety programme for Y5 and Y6 when we were out at Halswell. We haven’t hosted it since being back in the city, so some Y7 students missed out, therefore we are offering Cycle Safety to Y6 and 7. It will take place over 2 days on 14 and 15 of July. If you would like your Y6 or Y7 student to take part, please complete this form:

Niki Stephenson

Matariki/ PINs

On Friday July 2 we are going to celebrate our annual matariki celebrations. It is an awesome evening with drop-in workshops related to matariki, kai, a lantern parade, performances and this year we have organised a hangi using the CCC hangi pits on Kilmore St.
Just to complicate things, we are also going to run PINs between 11.30-3 on 2 July, and need parents to offer workshops. PINs will run as usual, with students signing up to a workshop.
As every year, we need our community to come together to support this cool event. There are various forms on the website asking for help with the matariki celebration, with running PINs and whether any of you awesome parents wish to show whanaungatanga by performing a cool skill you have – or nominating your child to perform! If anyone has a query, please get in touch with Niki.
Looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Niki Stephenson

Climate Action Campus update

Many of you will have seen the article in the Press about our new satellite school – (
While we wait to take possession of the school buildings on the old Avonside Girl’s High School site, there are a few things happening on the red-zoned site on Cowlishaw St. Kate Griffith is taking a group of Y4-6 students there every Monday for nature play and one of the parents who supports the day has begun to make some composting bins. There is a portaloo on site, and water being connected soon. Five greenhouses will be delivered some time this month, and there are some raised beds to build and fill with compost that has been delivered.
Some students from Kay and Sarah’s sustainable hapori are working on a logo for us, and I am working on some content to create a website so all information pertaining to the Climate Action Campus is in one central place.
Watch this space for invitations to working bees coming up. If anyone is keen to chat about the campus, please get in touch.

Niki Stephenson

News / Notices

Free Period Products

The M.O.E has started its initiative to provide all state schools and kura with sanitary products. We have sanitary products available for student use outside the accessible toilets on each floor. There will also be products available from the sick-bay. Students have been emailed to advise of the available product. Please remind your students that they are there and they can be used as necessary.

Jonelle Matthews

Thanks from Homebase Kōwhai!

Kia ora, Homebase Kōwhai, wanted to say a huge thanks to our whānau community, who support us to make our Special Character learning a reality every week!Thank you to the parents and grandparents who get us to the Art Gallery, Eco Centre, nature play, library, winter sport, green spaces, and all the other places we want to visit for our individual learning pathways. Thank you also to all the whanau who come in every week and run workshops in our HB: Code club, Drama club,  writing workshops, reading groups, pottery wheel workshops, or pop in to help with any one of the myriad jobs that need doing in a busy learning environment.  We love having you here, and we appreciate all the time and energy you give to us to make our learning in the community a reality!!Ngā mihi nui, Melva, Hannah and Homebase Kōwhai. 

Melva Gill and Hannah Mustor

Help Needed for Reader/writers

We urgently need more people to help being a reader/writer or a writer for students sitting assessments. Can you help? Do you know of a grandparent or family member who could help? It will involve an hour or two of your time when a student sits an assessment. 
Any questions or queries please email Paula on

Paula Green

Waihanga Hapori Years 1-6 Create, Make and Do!

During Hapori time on Fridays we have been very busy creating, making and doing a lot of awesome things. A large number of students have used this time to work on creative goals they have set themselves for the term. We have been able to use the workshop, paint, craft, sew, build, programme, use clay, write and bind books and comics and so much more. We also headed out to gather natural resources, and have created poi and te kouka dolls. It has been great to see the creativity of the tamariki shine through. We have a short sharing time at the end of each session and we are often blown away with what has been made!

Kia ora, Homebase Kōwhai, wanted to say a huge thanks to our whānau community, who support us to make our Special Character learning a reality every week!Thank you to the parents and grandparents who get us to the Art Gallery, Eco Centre, nature play, library, winter sport, green spaces, and all the other places we want to visit for our individual learning pathways. Thank you also to all the whanau who come in every week and run workshops in our HB: Code club, Drama club,  writing workshops, reading groups, pottery wheel workshops, or pop in to help with any one of the myriad jobs that need doing in a busy learning environment.  We love having you here, and we appreciate all the time and energy you give to us to make our learning in the community a reality!!Ngā mihi nui, Melva, Hannah and Homebase Kōwhai. 

Hannah Mustor

Year 1-3 COL

Last Friday the years 1-3 community had their first COL (Celebration of Learning) for the year. HB Moana presented their shape art – they have been learning shape by looking at the art of some famous artists. HB Marama shared some similie poems – thanks Ayla for using your kaha and sharing yours all by yourself! They also showed us their Matariki stars, with Bendi sharing the personal significance of his chosen star. HB Tāwhiri shared a play complete with costume, hair colour spray and props.
And finally we had Milo sharing his rocket. This was a spectacular example of the power of following a passion with parental support. Over two days Milo and his whānau created a two story rocket which you can climb up inside, complete with control panels and also a separate mission control for at base. Milo’s rocket is in HB Tāwhiri – perhaps you could drop in and see it at Matariki.

Nadine Walmisley

Mahi Hapori

We have a fabulous bunch of students who are keen to help others. Our goal is to help other people whilst following our passions.

This term we have been out and about helping other organisations in Christchurch with their amazing mahi. We have been to Linwood Play Centre and tidied up their garage and gardens as well as making plans for some future support.

We spent a few hours outside New World collecting donations for Little Gems and Cholmondeley.

Over the next two or three weeks we have some students working hard to help prepare the Fungi Garden for its July opening.

“The Fungi Garden’s creating a fun, educational space for children and families to play and learn, increasing knowledge about the Fungi Kingdom. Connecting with the world beneath our feet and unearthing these, often misunderstood organisms.
The garden will be open in early July but feel free to swing by the site anytime and see how it’s coming along! Over winter more elements will be added, with a community celebration planned for spring. Keep an eye out for the date and look out for community workshops on Richmond Community Garden’s FB page over winter.”

Closer to home we are working on trying to improve the fence line along our lane way. We are in the process of designing and making a planter box / street art piece that we are collaborating with some other hapori’s on.

We are also working with some experts to create a logo for the Climate Action Campus. Several students have created some fabulous concept drawings and so we have decided to collaborate and create a shared idea.

We also have a number of students working to create fidget toys that we could sell to whanau to support mindfulness. We are recycling and reusing a number of items in the process to reduce our impact on the planet.

Lastly but not all we are doing this coming Friday some students are putting together another bake sale this time to raise money for an organisation that supports mental health.

Mahi Hapori is a fantastic group of students who all like to support others in many different ways and who are really open to new ideas. We welcome any projects that members of our community have and are interested in seeing if we can support.

Kay Hayes

Hapori Taiao Term 2 Happenings

Our hapori is split into three groups, each focussing on a different theme. This term each group has had a mixture of getting out and about, and some in school activities. Our sports group has made use of the Botanical Gardens, our gym and Matai Common. The Creatures and Critters group have been to Tūranga, the Avon River and Willowbank. Friday Foragers have foraged along the Avon for natural craft items and at Taylors Mistake to gather resources to create their own foraging baskets which they started last week.
A huge shout out to the parents who support us, with particular mention to parent Natalie Absolom whose boys are much older – Natalie shares her foraging expertise each week. I’m certainly learning heaps!

Nadine Walmisley

Gateway students

Gateway students have been getting out into all kinds of different work placements this year. Our Gateway learners have been able to follow their passions and interests, gain credits and expand their horizons about what is possible in their future. A consistent theme amongst the managers and staff of the businesses and organisations that host our students is how impressed they are with the motivaton, self management and respect that Ao Tawhiti students show. We are always looking for more possible work places to host our students – at the moment it would be good to find Vet Clinics, Libraries, Mechanics and Electricians that can host Gateway students. However if you or friends or family have contact with any business, social enterprise or organisation who might be able to host a motivated Year 11,12 or 13 student for a work experience please contact John Schischka, Gateway Coordinator: or tel 0273096237.

John Schischka

HB Pōhutukawa

This term in HB Pōhutukawa (Suze’s HB) we’re focussing on the passions and interests we identified at the end of last term. We are spending our afternoons doing a wide variety of things and heading out on lots of trips.
We’ve been learning about the moon and planets, we’ve designed aliens and read with astronauts, and we’ve made instruments to play for our own HB Anthem.
We’ve done student-led, parent-led and LA led workshops.
We’ve been reading out-and-about in the city, we’ve been to the library every week and we’ve visited Margaret Mahy Playground and the Art Gallery.
We’ve got loads more trips to come before the end of term including attending the old-fashioned school at Ferrymead and bird-watching at Travis Wetlands and we’ve also got some cool learning planned that will be lead by parents as well as LAs.
It’s proving to be a fun, busy term!!

Suze Keys

Mt Hutt Ski/Snowboard Trip Sign-Ups!

Hi all,

Sign up via the links below for our upcoming ski/snowboard trips.

We are running trips to Mount Hutt every other Wednesday in Term 3 on the following dates:

Wednesday August 4th
sign-ups close Wednesday July 21st
payment due Wednesday July 28th

Wednesday August 18th
sign-ups close Wednesday August 4th
payment due Wednesday August 11th

Wednesday September 1st
sign-ups close Wednesday August 18th
payment due Wednesday August 25th

Wednesday September 15th
sign-ups close Wednesday September 1st
payment due Wednesday September 8th

Wednesday September 29th
sign-ups close Wednesday September 15th
payment due Wednesday September 22nd

Any student, no matter their prior level of experience or skill, is welcome to sign up. Students will get to participate in a 1.5 hour lesson at 11am at their level, whether they are a complete beginner or experienced. We will leave promptly at 8:00am from the South City carpark by bus, arriving at Mt Hutt around 9:45am. Students must be on-site, ready to go at least 10 minutes prior to our 8:00am departure. We will leave Mt Hutt at approximately 4:00pm and arrive back at Unlimited campus at about 5:45pm.

Students should have with them warm clothing, including: waterproof snow jacket and snow pants, gloves/mitts, toque/beanie that fits comfortably under a helmet, and warm base layers (preferably some polypropylene or wool material; cotton layers are not recommended). They will also need eye protection, either sunglasses or ski goggles, and even some sunscreen (even in winter, you can get burned). Plenty of water, food and snacks, and/or money to purchase food is also recommended. Beware it is very expensive on the mountain!

The cost of the trip is $95, which covers the cost of a day lift pass, rental equipment, a lesson pitched at your child’s skill level, plus bus transport. There is a $30 bus fee option for students with their own gear and lift pass, but this does not include the cost of a lesson! If students have their own gear and lift pass, they still must pay $95 if they want a lesson. This does work out to be cheaper than buying a lesson at the regular price!

We need to confirm numbers in advance of the trip, so students who sign up but fail to show up will be charged $30 to their student accounts to cover non-refundable fees.

Kay and Zack

Crochet Jellyfish PINs

Libby Boyd

Level 3 Kay’s Community

This term we have recently begun Homebase challenges. We have a Community Shield and a Community Cup up for grabs for the winning Homebase, student designed and created. The challenges can be anything the only rules being we need to be able to facilitate and resource it.

We are also planning a community evening for week 8. This will hopefully involve an activity that we can do together as a community. We have lots of great ideas and we are working on their feasibility now. This event will also include a COL of student work so whanau can come in and see some of what is happening on Level 3 in SDL and others courses.

Kay Hayes

Nature Play at CAC

Term 2 has seen the exciting development of having the first section of the new Ao Tawhiti Climate Action Campus available to us. A group of 25 yr4-6’s + parent helpers head to the site each Monday with me to enjoy some fresh air and free-play!
We started with exploring the site and becoming familiar with our space and surrounding which then quickly evolved to hut building, exploration, fire pit design, map making, foraging, plant identification, resource collecting and many other exciting project ideas for the future – the list of possibilities is endless!
Our Ao Tawhiti Core Values shine on these days – Parents who come to support are enjoying the renewed sense of community this opportunity brings. Being outside in nature with our tamariki and adults with no pressure to rush through the day is a cup-filler to boot!

Kate Griffith


Current families who have siblings (including new entrants) wanting to attend next year or subsequent years need to follow our pre-enrolment process. Please go to our website to read the information about this, note the timelines and register your interest.

Jacinta Buist

Woolshed Creek Tramp

Libby Boyd

We Want Your Help.

We are planning Ao Tawhiti’s school fair and we need your help. The school fair will take place on Saturday, September 4th 2021 and will be held on the school campus. 

We need community involvement to help run and manage stalls, to support on the day and ensure that everyone is supported. We have a load of ideas that we need help with!

Below is a sign up sheet which contains our stall ideas and other helpful positions. There is also space to add your own ideas.

We are looking forward to seeing you and hearing your ideas!

Lucy Mayers, Rosa Opie and Roisin Scott

Other Notices

IT Support

As some of you may know, I own and operate my own computer business outside of the work I do for Ao Tawhiti. I’d like to offer my services to you for your home computer/network requirements and can assist with all manner of IT issues. I can also offer purchasing advice and better-than-retail pricing for new equipment (not Apple!). Avoid the sales tactics and pressures of the big superstores – please contact me via or 021 177 7258. Thanks!

Peter Gee

Thank you to Hellers Sausages for being generous sponsors and providing essential supplies for our school fair on September 4th!