Newsletter Friday 31st July

Upcoming Events

Term 3, Week 1: Starting Monday 20 July

Term 3, Week 2 :Starting Monday 27th July

Term 3, Week 3:Starting Monday3rd July

Term 3, Week 4:Starting Monday 10th July

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS: Saturday 26th September2020 – Sunday 11th October

  • IEMs 12th October
  • IEMs 25th September

Messages From Steven

Year 7-13: Term 3 Attendance and L2L

Year 7-13: Term 3 Attendance and L2L Just a quick reminder that we are back to our normal timetable (remember the one that we had in a world before COVID). You can view the Y7-13 timetable here

Going with that is a reminder that all students need to be learning at school, unless they have a clear and agreed plan in place with their HBLA. We are no longer offering the ability to take classes from home as we were during lockdown. It’s important to recognise that this includes Friday. The community leaders have awesome learning opportunities in place for our students. The L2L programme allows students to connect with an opportunity, a problem or a project. I’m really excited to hear that upcoming guest speakers include some our our alumni. Their stories are a great opportunity for our students to connect their experience with those who have experienced a similar journey.

I love this place …

and so does everyone else Over the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to show a wide range of visitors to the school. These include potential candidates for the Director’s role, teachers looking at us for their own professional development and parents looking at us as a place for their child. I regularly get to hear just how much people love what we do at Ao Tawhiti. The comments I get are always around how engaged and calm our students are, and how lucky we are to have the special character and culture that focuses on the student first. This is a credit to how we all contribute to this school.

We are currently looking for Y7-9 students for next year. I’m really excited to see what our new 2021 students and parents will bring to our amazing community.


Messages from Senior Leaders

Welcome back to term 3! I’m hoping this one feels a little more normal than what we’ve experienced so far this year! I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the special character and just what that means for our learners. In particular I was looking at my HB and what they were all doing on Friday. As I thought about each of their programs I was amazed at not only the variety of what they were doing but also the purpose behind the choices they were making with their education and how they were using the things they were passionate about to drive their learning. 2 of them were out exploring their love for the outdoors at a program up at Boyle river. 2 were participating in a sustainability and the outdoors program through ARA. 1 was developing his employment skills through a work placement. 2 were focusing on their NCEA qualifications and using the time to progress these and the rest were engaging fully in the workshops and programs provided on site by the LAs. Through programs such as those supported by gateway and careers and through students taking initiative for their own SDL it really is remarkable the opportunities that our students are taking up. Have a great week!



I can’t thank you all enough for making matariki 2020 another successful evening! It truly would not be the triumph that it is without you all. If you ran a workshop, helped to set up/ tidy up, made soup, performed, supported a performer or turned up to enjoy the evening – thank you. A special shout out to the LAs who stayed behind after a busy first week of term to help or run a workshop too – everyone who took part help make our awesome school what it is. It is a shame the hangi was postponed, I will soon have a date for the unveiling of our touch stones later in the term, and thought it would be appropriate to celebrate by holding the hangi then. Watch this space… A couple of improvements I’d like to make for matariki 2021 include being waste free (there was a LOT of rubbish at the end of the evening) and having a drummer or two lead the kids in the lantern parade. If you have any suggestions on how to improve the evening, please contact Niki.


Helping at school or on trips – safety checking and RAMs training

Thank you whānau for being involved in our school and helping out.  We really appreciate it, as do our students, who enjoy so many awesome opportunities, thanks to whānau volunteering. As many of you know, the school is required under the Vulnerable Children’s Act, Ministry of Education guidelines and the Board’s policy to conduct safety checks of all adults working closely with our children.  These include all staff, regular contractors and volunteers.  Whānau volunteers at our school have an extraordinary degree of access to children, a feature that is not present in the same way in many other schools, and it is necessary to do checks to ensure the safety of our children working with adults. This check includes a police vet. To make this process easier for you we have moved our police vetting forms to the EOTC pages of our website.  If you do not have a current police vet and want to help out, please read the police vet information and bring the filled out consent form to reception along with identification to sight.  Hard copies of the documents are also available from Reception.

With PINs coming up later in the term, there may be more of you wanting to get the police vetting done, and also some of you keen to attend a RAMs training session. These sessions take place approximately once a month. They last about 30 minutes and step you through the safety and risk management procedures for planning off-site trips with students. Parents who have completed RAMs training and have a current police vet are able to take students out on approved trips without needing a Learning Advisor to be present. The next RAMs training will be Monday August 3rd, at 3:30 pm. Please email Megan if you’d like to attend, or for more info:


Coffee Morning

Calling all parents! Please come to a very informal coffee morning on Friday 14 August. Come along, support the level 4 cafe, meet some new parents and some of the senior leadership team. The cafe is open from 8am. See you there!


News / Notices

School Ski Trips – spaces still available!

Zack Williams and myself, Kay Hayes, are organising these trips again this year. This year we have 4 more days confirmed for ski trips. Students of all abilities are encouraged to come along (this may require adult support if the student is under 10). We have a lovely culture of fun and support established and we would love more students to join us.

Number 2 12th August 2020 – bus leaves South City approx 6.15 am:

Number 3 26th August 2020 – bus leaves South City 8.00

Number 4 9th Sept 2020 – bus leaves South City 8.00 am:

Number 5 23rd Sept 2020 – bus leaves South City 8.00 am:

Mount Hutt require student names at least a week in advance so the 12th August sign up will close in a week. Full package includes ski or snowboard equipment, lesson and travel to the mountain. Cost $92. Beginners – Advanced

Kay Hayes


Last Friday we had an exciting day for our Level 2 students starting with an awesome Circus experience! Students had the best time learning to juggle, tumble, hula hoop, and clown. Thanks to Danny and his team for sharing your energy, enthusiasm and expertise with our keen students! Next up we were fortunate to have a collection of amazing Alumni sharing their journey and experiences with our communities. Students found this a great opportunity to ask questions about the character strengths they used, career pathways and what it was like to work and study. An exploration of our specialist spaces ended the day to help inspire our students to think outside the square. Great ideas were generated and we are looking forward to seeing new ideas and projects come from the experience.

Sarah H and Steve

Level 3 Kay and Sarah’s Community L2L

Recently we have been working on a variety of projects designed in response to problems created by the COVID 19 lockdown. We began a pilot program with the Red Cross to make and send cards and messages to them with Meals on Wheels. To reconnect with the elderly who were very isolated over lockdown and the following periods of physical distancing, we partnered up with the Red Cross to send cards to elderly people around Christchurch. Students made many cards, filled with well-wishes, pictures and jokes which were sent to various retirement villages as well as Burwood Hospital. The Red Cross wanted to thank everyone who participated in the project and send their appreciation. Our cards were just the first they intend to send, and they are receiving cards from the general public if you wish to make a card or write a letter to be sent out. You can send anything you wish to contribute to the Red Cross Christchurch Service Centre, with a note indicating your parcel is for the ‘Letters of Kindness’ project. We will be looking to wrap up these awesome projects over the next few weeks and to begin to look for other problems we can tackle in our L2L.

Sarah and Kay

Floor Four Core Values

Aroha: What a great group of friends HB Pukeko are. This photo shows an excellent example of children working with our core value of Aroha to incorporate different ideas and people into a group play option.

Trust: Wow HB Ruru – I was so impressed last week! The tamariki of HB Ruru have been working hard at knowing what a self-directed learner looks like. I spent some time with them last Friday and enjoyed my conversations about what they were up to and how they knew what they should be doing. A very eloquent crew explained what they use SDL time for and then showed that we can have a high level of trust in them to do just that! 

Whanaungatanga: On Tuesday this week HB Pukeko worked together right through their morning tea to create groups of tens out of unilink cubes and then design a maths Jenga game for counting backwards in 10s.

Respect: HB Pouakai has been focussing on respecting their environment. They worked together last week to redesign their space and are really pleased with the results. They feel that the HB is now well organised, with places for all their resources and the furniture is better placed for focussed learning. Great work team!

Kaha: HB Piwakawaka displayed epic Kaha in PE this week with our new reliever Tim. They learnt two new games and played hard out for 45 minutes! Tino pai!



Hi everyone, I spoke to a few people last week about restarting the junior choir I had running pre-covid, my intention was to get going again today but time got away from me this weekend and I didn’t manage to get organised. I will be ready to go next week Monday lunchtime in 3.9 for the 1-6s, and Wednesday lunchtime for 7-13s, location tbc. Staff are welcome to join either if they wish! Thanks.


What happens in a Philosophy classroom?

Ever wondered what happens in a Philosophy classroom? Lots of dialogue! But we also produce essays and other research products. You can visit our school Philosophy website to see examples of research work carried out by our Philosophy students (and their Learning Advisor). If you are feeling extra interested, you can even explore some of our online course content. The website is a work in progress, so keep checking back. The goal is to make student intellectual research available to the wider-world. Philosophy should not be contained within the walls of academia. Here’s the website:

Brent Silby – Learning Advisor in Philosophy

Breakfast Club

Breakfast Club will restart on Wednesday 29th July following our shutdown for Covid safety. Everyone is welcome to join us, for coffee or toast or pancakes, or to help with washing up (students do some of this), or shopping (at any time), or supporting the lovely students who cook the pancakes! Please come along and join us, or chat to Miriam about what we do, or ideas to improve it. Thanks go to Grizzly Bakery for their support, and to everyone who has helped so far this year. If Wednesday is not a good day for you, we are hoping to start providing cereal and fruit on other days at the same time so chat to Miriam about options. thanks


NCEA Exams

Now that we are in Term 3, students should be double checking their exam entries. Please take a look at your entries during your 1:1. If any are missing, please see your subject Learning Advisor as soon as possible to get yourself entered.

Brent Silby – Qualifications Coordinator

Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival 2020.

Best 5-Minute Scene (selected for entry into National Festival)Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery – MacbethBest Presentation of a Tragedy Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery – (Macbeth)
Best Director(s) of a 5-Minute SceneLucy Webster, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery (Macbeth)
Actors: Rose HubbleHarmony BeavanGrace OpieRangimarie Teevale-Hunt

Best Mise-en-Scene and Blocking (Hamlet); Directed by Nadia Smetanina, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery
Actors:Nic ChappellFelix HorwarthGeorgia WallaceEva OrpwoodCiara DaviesNgaire North

National ResultsOutstanding Student-Directed Ensemble Work Award donated by Jan Fraser
Lucy Webster, Ao Tawhiti – Macbeth


Waitomo Culture Camp

Here in Waitomo Sam Lamberg Downie, Shanun Lambert, Mason Searle, Joey Dobbs are attended the Gateway Service IQ Cultural Camp from July 4 – 8. Here they are on the first morning just after being welcomed on to the Te Korapa Tuu Marae near Waitomo. The Marae is hosted them and lots of other kids from round the country. They had action packed 5 days including a trip to Waitomo caves.


Hoodies and T Shirts

Hello everyone. Please look out for the information coming on the School Hoodies and T Shirts today or early next week by seperate message.


English Conversation

If you are keen to help a French person improve their English with some conversation, please contact

Louise Mayozer

Green Market

Monstera and Men host a weekly market focussing on green, sustainable stuff. If you are interested in helping out could you contact Braden. Let’s see if some of our students can host a stall there. The photo is Jasper doing his Gateway learning in the space – just to give you an idea of the feeling. For those really interested then check out the market at 22 Southwark Street 10am-2pm Saturdays.


Academic Excellence at Ao Tawhiti

Ciara Foley, Kyle Harwood, and George Henderson-Walsh have recently successfully completed their University Philosophy courses with outstanding grades. Ciara and George completed Phil110 – Science: Good, Bad, Bogus; and Kyle completed a stage 2 (yes, STAGE 2!) course, Phil235 – Cyberspace, Cyborgs, and the Meaning of Life.

Each year we give advanced Philosophy students the opportunity to enrol in University level courses which are taught here, at school, and assessed at the University. This year our students completed a significant portion of their work remotely during the lockdown, working through the programme on the University LEARN system. They did extremely well. Students interested in University Philosophy for 2021 should contact Brent to talk through the details.

Brent Silby – Learning Advisor in Philosophy

Variety financial support options

The Variety charity offers support for some of our students, so here is some information in case you might also benefit. There are 2 options, sponsorship or an individual grant.
KIWI KID SPONSORSHIP  ( Kid Sponsorship matches a child living in financial hardship with a sponsor to provide funding each year for basic essentials, school-related costs and extra-curricular activities. Each child gets an average of $405 per year. HOW DOES THIS SPONSORSHIP WORK? Once we receive your completed application, your child/children will go onto our waiting list for sponsorship. This waiting list maybe 1-6 months long.  Once they are matched with a sponsor, we will notify you via email. We will provide you with $100 to spend at the Warehouse for essentials and the remainder will be accessed directly though us or with help from your child’s school. (at Ao Tawhiti contact Miriam to create the application on-line).HOW DO WE WORK WITH SCHOOLS? Variety partners with schools to make it easier for families to access their Kiwi Kid Sponsorship funding. Schools who are working with us will have a Kiwi Kid Sponsorship (KKS) Champion. This KKS Champion will help your child renew each year and will help you access your funds for school-related costs and extra-curricular activities.  Ao Tawhiti KKS – Miriam.y questions, please contact the Variety office on 09 520 4111 or email us at

WHAT CAN I GET HELP WITH?· Basic essentials: clothing, bedding, shoes, car seats, lunch boxes and drink bottles· School costs: uniforms, stationery, activity fees, school camps or trips ·Extra-curricular costs: swimming lessons, sports fees, sports uniforms· Medical fees: doctors’ fees, prescription charges and optometry costs· Technology: Up to $200 of funding towards the purchase of a digital device I APPLY? You can apply for Kiwi Kid Sponsorship if you meet our criteria: Child is aged 4 to 17 years of age; Child is a NZ resident or citizen; Your family is struggling financially, and your income is below levels listed on the website, which are roughly similar to Community Services Card levels.
Variety Individual Grants to assist New Zealand children and young people (NZ resident or citizen) aged 0-18 years, delivering support to their education, health or wellbeing to ensure they reach their full potential despite financial hardship. 

What can I get help for?
Individual Grants are designed as a one-off support for your child (unlike Kiwi Kid Sponsorship which provides on-going support) and fund a broad range of children’s needs:

What CAN’T I get help for?

  • Travel expenses – including public transport and petrol
  • School fees, early childhood education fees or after school care fees
  • Administration costs or office equipment
  • Computers for schools or kindergartens
  • Bikes and trikes – unless it is for mobility purposes for a disabled child
  • Vehicles of any kind 

*If your child requires an iPad or more expensive digital device this application must be supported by special education or learning support services and include a referrers recommendation (from an Occupational Therapist, Special Education Advisor or similar) as to why this device is required.

When will my Individual Grant Application be reviewed? 
Variety reviews all Individual Grants 4 times a year in February, May, August and November. You will be notified of the outcome of your application in writing by email at the end of the nearest grant review month. For example: If you submit your application in March, you will be notified at the end of May.

Can my child be on the Kiwi Kid Sponsorship Programme and submit an Individual Grant? 
Yes, but only for costs that can’t be covered under your child Kiwi Kid Sponsorship funds. For example: It can’t be for school uniform and stationery that you could use KKS funds for but it could be for medical or mobility costs.

How long will I have to spend my Individual Grant if approved? 
Unless a time extension has been requested, grants will expire 3 months after date of notification.

How are Individual Grants assessed? 
Each application is considered on its merits and allocation of funding is at the discretion of the Grants Committee. Please include as much information about you and your children’s circumstances to assist the committee in making their decision.

If you have questions about Individual Grants or Kiwi Kid Sponsorship and which one you should apply for, please contact the Variety office on 095204111 or email, or contact Miriam

Miriam Denney

Other Notices