Kaupapa Māori

15.5 % of Ao Tawhiti ākonga identify as Māori and they whakapapa from all around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Ngāi Tūāhuriri are the mana whenua of this takiwā and we are privileged to be able to include their purakai, and landscape features as learning contexts for our students. Geolocated in the centre of the city, our kura sits amongst the rich history of te taiao including our immediate surroundings and the Otākaro Awa which were sites for mahinga kai gathering and trading.


The Māori name of our school

Our name “Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery” derives from the merging of two schools after the Canterbury Earthquake sequence of 2011.

“A name is our identity. It shapes us. It gives us a voice. It helps us belong”

Steven Muster Director 2013 – 2020

During a consultation process with students, staff, parents, our community, Ngāi Tahu and the Kaumatua of the school, it was agreed that we needed a name that remembered our past but also looked to the future.

The name Ao Tawhiti takes elements from both Māori names of the previous two schools (“Ao” from Discovery 1 Te Kura o Te Ao Whakahura, and “Tawhiti” from Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti).
It also embraces the feedback from a group of students that petitioned us to come up with a new name; something that shows that two schools have come together.

The meaning of the name is “distant worlds in time and place … an unlimited discovery”. It is a statement that celebrates our past and looks to our future.

We have retained the whakatauki:

“Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tīna”

“Seek out distant horizons and cherish those you attain”

Alignment of Special Character and Māori tikanga and values

One of the things that defines our special character is our relational practice and a commitment to collective wellbeing. Relational practice succeeds when our kura and kaimahi know who our rangatahi and tamariki are, and this includes knowing and celebrating culture, whakapapa and turangawaewae. Through our special character, core values and practices such as 1:1’s, IEM’s and advocating student choice, we seek to place students’ central to their learning. We see whānau as being an important partner in navigating a student’s learning journey and we welcome whānau contributions and inclusion in planning learning experiences for our ākonga.