Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery Newsletter 4th December 2020

Upcoming Events

Term 4, Week 6 Starting16th November 2020

Term 4, Week 7 Starting 23rd November 2020

Term 4, Week 8 Starting 30th November 2020

Term 4, Week 9 Starting 7th December 2020

  • 11th December- Picnic at the Botanic Gardens

Messages From Steven

This is yet another opportunity for me to thank each and every one of you for your contribution to the school.  All of you make this place the place that it is. It’s been an absolute privilege to be the first director of this incredible school.  My most treasured memories will be the graduations.  It took us a couple of years to work out that this event was one for the leavers only and not prizes or staff. Once we’d got there though, the citations became the best place to capture what it is that makes us so special. So many amazing people doing so many amazing things. While so many of you have thanked me for “the building”, I really hope this isn’t the defining memory you’ll have of me.  It’s nice to look up at the building and know that I led that process, but it’s also a reminder of the distraction it caused, by keeping your school leader away from the things that make the school the most awesome – our special character and it’s unrelenting focus on our learners’ passions, interests and needs.  I’ve loved being able to lead a school where students are at the heart of every decision we make. That’s what made my decision to resign so hard.  I know that other schools talk about having students at the centre, but this is the only place where we live and breath that philosophy.  I know that I’ll not get to be involved in something like this again.
Holidays In my recent appraisal, the Board noted that the students, LAs and senior leadership, see the school and myself as one.  This is of course a huge positive as I try every day to live the special character so it’s always rewarding to know that you’re achieving that though all of your actions.  It does however become quite a challenge when you become the organisation.  With that in mind, I’ve been reflecting on the roles each of you play in the school.  Please use the holidays to do something that’s not associated with the day to day learning you do at school – whether that’s as a parent, a learning advisors, or as a student. My hope is that you’ll use the holidays to keep finding the parts of you that perhaps you don’t see everyday.  Explore your potential or just simply take time to relax.  Holidays are a great time to (re)connect with people and yourself.  Use the time to find new passions that you can bring back to Ao Tawhiti in 2021. 

Steven Mustor

Messages from Senior Leaders


What an awesome PINs day! A huge thanks to everyone who ran or supported a workshop for our tamariki. As I write this, we have people out at Bottle Lake, in the Port Hills, Riccarton Bush, jumping at Mega Air, enjoying the animals at Willowbank, investigating media outlets, doing gymnastics at Olympia, experimenting with sounds at Hagley Park, shopping, skating, singing, surfing and honing their survival and deduction skills. Onsite it is really quiet, with heaps of craft and Christmassy activities.
What a great, final PINs day for 2020. Thanks again for supporting our tamariki with their Passions, Interests and Needs.

Niki Stephenson

Fridays – 2021

We’ve been working on some exciting changes to Fridays for next year. The Friday programmes have a big focus on passions, play and purpose. It is a time in the week when students can explore their existing passion areas, and connect with new ones. We really value this time in the week because of its alignment with the school’s guiding principles, keeping learners and their interests at the centre, and helping to maintain that intrinsic enthusiasm for learning. In 2021 we will have eight Friday communities in offer, each with its own distinct flavour. These communities will include teams of LAs working together to provide a rich range of LA- and student-led learning opportunities. We’re anticipating workshops, excursions and guest speakers, as well as problem and project based learning. We’ve been chatting to students and are currently finalising the eight different kaupapa for these Friday communities. We’ll have more information along with Term 1 sign-ups for you at the start of the new school year.

Megan Taylor

Okains Bay Camp

Some of the kids and parents from Niki’s HB and HB Jammers (Libby) went to Okains Bay between 18-20 November. When we arrived there we set up camp near the estuary. The kind managers had given us sole use of one of the kitchen blocks, and boy did we take it over! Amy did an incredible job organising the food, cooking and organising everyone to help with prepping and tidying.
We spent our first day getting to know the camp site and playing in the playground, on the beach and in the estuary. It was cool explaining the caves, and there weren’t too many injuries!
That evening’s dinner was burgers, and we ended the night by walking along the beach and playing Spotlight when it got dark.
The next day Libby had arranged for us to walk to the museum. It was a bit further than we thought! Once we arrived there, Helen, Freya and Dee put us into three groups to do three activities. There was a visit to the old schoolhouse where we got dressed up and had a lesson from the very strict and stern Miss Woods. There was also a mapping activity and a treasure hunt, and it was awesome to look at all of the artefacts. There were prizes for the best invention that the staff at the museum judged. They found it hard, as we had designed some really cool inventions that also helped clean the world. Luella won first prize, a really cool t-shirt from the museum.
At the end of the visit, some of us walked back to the camp site, but Libby went and got the van because some of us were really tired! And hungry – we wolfed down the hot dogs that Amy had made for us.
The rest of the afternoon was free for us to hang out again. Dinner was nachos, yum! After another few rounds of Spotlight, it was bed time (and I think everyone slept better on the second night!).
Our final morning came around quickly. There was time to play again and then we had to pack up and make lunch.
Huge thanks to all of the parents who came along to hang out, supervise and support our camp. We could not have run it so well without you.
And very special thanks to Libby for organising the camp, and Jill for sorting the money.
Can’t wait for the next one!

Niki Stephenson

Y1-6 Appointments

We are delighted to introduce a new appointments for Y1-6 for 2021.
Charis Sweeney has taught in primary schools on the West Coast, and more recently in Diamond Harbour Kindergarten and as a SPELD tutor. She brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and creativity that I know our students in Y1-3 will benefit from. Many of you already know and love Bonnie Dalton, who has been covering Gina’s maternity leave since term 3. We are thrilled she has accepted another year-long fixed term contract with us. This role has become available as Gina has taken leave of her HBLA role for 2021 to focus on bring up the lovely Lavinia. She will work 4 days a week releasing LAs across Y1-6.
The final Y1-6 role is a bit complex… we have offered it to Jenny Ward, an amazing, experienced, creative LA who is moving to Ōtautahi from Ōpihi sometime during term 1. She will begin with us in term 2. We will be able to appoint someone to cover term 1, and will let you know who that is when we have made the appointment.

I would like to thank you all for your patience and understanding during the appointment process. It is never an easy task, made all the more complex this year by having some LAs already in fixed term positions. Schools are legally obliged to advertise fixed term positions of over one term in length; we are not able to simply renew contracts, but have to follow the legal process as set out in the Education and Training Act 2020.

Candidates are shortlisted according to various criteria. This could be experience, or special areas of expertise. Sometimes schools are in a position to support beginning teachers, as we were last year. With the changes we are making to communities and where students will be placed, and the fact that many LAs in Y4-6 will be working part time, we felt that in order to support Y1-6 efficiently we needed LAs with experience to fill the available roles.

There was an exceptionally high calibre of applicants, and we are confident that Charis will bring enthusiasm, and a wealth of skills and knowledge that will support our tamariki in their learning.

Niki Stephenson

News / Notices

Hikoi for Hauora

Hikoi 4 Hauora went without a hitch. The group were met with a beautiful sunrise on their walk from Spencer Park to Ao Tawhiti. A distance of 21.7 kilometres, and raising $500 toward mental health and well-being. 
Thanks to all the support from the community.  

Braden Fa’avae

Melvas Homebase

Melva Gill-Vine

Summer Holidays Babysitter

Hi everyone, over the summer I am available for any babysitting you may require. I am police vetted and first aid trained. My rate is $20/hour.

I can be contacted via or 0275596973

Courtney Allison

2021 request for support

I am planning on looking at the Central Plains Water Scheme next year with my senior Earth and Space Science class. It would be great to include multiple perspectives on this – anyone with a connection to the project that might be able to provide input please contact me at

Matt Parkes

Tough Kids Challenge

Melva Gill

Junior Production Performances

This year the Junior Production is the Greek Mythology Olympiaganza.

Two battling narrators attempt to cover the entirety of Greek mythology using audience participation, crazy costume changes, and general theatrical insanity. Famous myths such as Pandora’s Box, Jason and the Argonauts (the original Super Friends), and Hercules: Intern Gods jostle for space with obscure, weird myths such as the myth of Linus and the legend of the Argus. Culminating in a bizarre, musical dance-influenced version of The Iliad complete with a full-scale battle of little green army men, this play is wild, silly, and a complete blast for audiences of all ages.

Monday Dec 7 and Tuesday Dec 8, at 6:30pm in the Gym, Level 4

Tickets $5 are available through Eventfinda
or from the school office or through
Door sales available.

Alister Emerson

Raffle: A Fundraiser for Sue

A group of Ao Tawhiti Mum, Sue Leigh’s friends are raising money to contribute towards cancer drugs to extend her life. She has been battling the disease for four and a half years. The drug is Everolimus and is currently unfunded. I should have the raffle tickets by Thursday, and I think they will be $5 each as some great prizes have been offered. I’ll put them next to an ice-cream container at the front desk. Otherwise, you can contact me directly and we’ll work something out. There is also a givealittle page if you’d like to contribute to that. Thanking you in advance.

Kate Armour

Art Gallery Workshop with Emma Fitts

We were lucky enough to secure a workshop with Emma Fitts at the Christchurch Art Gallery for our Big Day Out mission.

“This workshop will encourage students to explore ideas of collage, layering and textiles. With a focus on bags and pockets, students will work with canvas and rope as they take their materials through a number of different techniques to create a new kind of garment that reflects the environment around them. Emma is known for her sculptural textile works, which are informed by architecture, histories and storytelling.” -Christchurch Art Gallery.

Emma shared her ideas and creative process, taking us on a tour of her works that are currently on exhibit at the Art Gallery. We then worked in the education workshop space and Emma guided us through the technique of cutting shapes from the canvas, painting the fabric, drying and creating rope to hang the piece.
It was such an amazing experience to be led through the creation of an artwork by such an accomplished artist.
We had such a fantastic time and the students created some incredible works of their own. Thanks Emma, Bianca and the Christchurch Art Gallery!

Sarah Higginson

Urban Agriculture in the Botanic Gardens

Students in the Urban Agriculture class visited the Botanic Gardens to look at different plants, their adaptations and conditions needed for growth.
Hopefully students will have some plants to bring home at the end of term – although growth so far has been limited by recent low temperatures!

Matt Parkes

Music lessons

Hi everyone, Music Mary here. I am taking bookings now for Ukulele, Guitar and Singing lessons in Term 1 2021. Please make sure to email as soon as possible

Due to a payment system that hasn’t favoured me, I need to request that lessons for the term are paid in full at the beginning of each term, starting next year. This is what usually happens in most schools and something I have not done at Ao Tawhiti, but now need to. I will have access to the school calendar and can calculate a total for each pupil at the beginning of each term.

Private Ukulele/ Guitar lessons are 20 minutes long and cost $15 per lesson.

Group Ukulele/ Guitar lessons are 30 minutes long and cost $10 per lesson.

Singing Group is 30 minutes long and costs $5 per lesson.

I am happy to continue to volunteer my time for performances.

Please email me if you have any queries.

Music Mary

Ao Tawhiti Sailing Towards the Olympics

One of our present Year 8 students, Ben Catton has been sailing. He has attended a few National competitions this year as sailing is HIS PASSION and he is good at it. Every Friday this is a passion project where if the weather is right he has an Offsite Learning agreement and goes sailing with support from his parents and coaches. Unofficially Ben is about 2nd in New Zealand for his age group and 8th against adults.

While the rest of us were on our Big Day Off, Ben had to go to another National Sailing competition in Auckland. The OutOpti Team Cup which was held over the November 21-22 weekend at Lake Pupuke, Auckland. There were 28 teams of 3 sailors (84 Optimist sailors). Ben was the captain of his team. They won 6 out of 7 races in the heats, then won their semi-final and lost the final, so 2nd place overall.
All Optimist sailors needed to attend this event if they wanted to be selected to represent New Zealand in the coming season.

In the future he would love to teach others and he hopes other students will try it. We all look forward to what Ben accomplishes.

Marlene Te’eavale-Hunt

Other Notices