Newsletter – Saturday 30 May 2020

Upcoming Events

Term 2, Week 8: Starting Monday 1 June 2020

  • Monday 1 June: Queen’s Birthday [SCHOOL CLOSED]
  • Tuesday 2 June: Term 2.2 Begins

Term 2, Week 9: Starting Monday 8 June 2020


Message from the BOT

You can read our post regarding Steven’s resignation here

Evan Kidd – Chairperson Board Of Trustees

Message from Steven

Start Times

In the continuing saga of returning to normal, the school will now be open for students from 8am.  1-6 students will no longer need to arrive and leave through 1.2 and there are no staggered start time expectations.

The doors will however continue to close at 3.15pm.

Can you please continue to work with your child on having effective SDL in place while they are working at school. The one challenge we have with our 8am start time is that Y7-10 students are often arriving here at 8 and not engaging with their SDL at all through the morning. Students should only be at school if they are engaging with their programme of learning.

7-13 timetable for rest of Term 2

We’ve decided to continue with the temporary Y7-13 timetable for the rest of the term.  This decision has been made to help us continue to accommodate those families who are still working from home. We will review whether we will return to the pre-lockdown timetable for Term 3 and beyond in two weeks and communicate this with you in the next newsletter. The only modification to the temporary timetable that we are currently using is the addition of homebase from 9.30-9.45am on Monday and Wednesday.

1-6 structures

We will continue until week 9 with essentially the same structures as we have for the last two weeks.  Gina and Nadine are working with the LAs on Level 4 on the finer details. They will communicate this directly with you in the next two weeks.


We have asked all families that we loaned laptops to during the lockdown, to return them by Tuesday.  This will allow our students and staff to use them as we did prior to lockdown. If this is a concern for you (for example you are continuing to work from home) can you please make contact with the office so we can work with you to establish a timeline for the device’s return.

Jared Gallagher

Jared has recently made the decision to reduce his hours at school, for the rest of the year. He will now be at school only on Mondays and Wednesdays. Jared will use his new found time to manage his new business. If you see him around wish him all the best.

Gina’s Maternity Leave Cover

Bonnie Dalton has accepted the LA role to cover Gina’s homebase. Bonnie will be familiar to many of you (and not just because she somehow found her way onto our website many years ago when working with some of our Y7-10 students) as she covered Deb’s in Term 1. It’s great to have a LA on board who already understands our special character, the students and the staff.

Suze will step up into the Community Leader role in Gina’s absence. I’m really excited to work with Suze for the rest of the year and help her develop her leadership skills.


Thank you to those of you who have come with words of kindness, encouragement and thanks following the BoT’s announcement of my resignation (and my apologies to those of you who are having to read this info here). 

It’s never easy to be able to justify a decision like this. I love my job here and I’m thrilled with what I’ve been able to achieve with your help over the last few years. I do however feel the need to look for a new challenge … what that is I’m not sure but at least I’ve given myself the time to discover what it could be. I was also aware that I desperately wanted to give the school amply time to find the perfect person to bring their own awesomeness to our uniqueness.

Ultimately I feel that the school is in a great place. We have students who are engaging with their own individual learning pathways, committed staff who bring passion and understanding, families who appreciate and live our speical character, and facilities that allow us to better embrace the style of learning that our special character demands. I know that whomever is appointed to the Director’s role, will embrace what we have and will push the school to places that I never imagined, and they’ll do this with your support and experience.

Message from Niki

Kia ora whānau

Ngā mihi nui ki a tātou katoa

Welcome back! Being in the building during level 3 was an interesting, somewhat lonely experience and it has been great to have the school full of life again these past two weeks. Our ākonga have operated really well within the boundaries we put in place to aid physical distancing and cleaning. I don’t think I have ever seen the school so lively and simultaneously so clean and tidy! I’m hoping that, whilst lockdown may have been a good experience for most, the tamariki have come back to school with an added appreciation for their environment. Long may it continue.

Parking at South City

Huge thanks to Kylee, Steve and the crew at South City for generously allowing parents to park on the Bath St side of the mall for the past year and a bit. With the Chemist Warehouse opening imminently, they need their parking spaces back! Here is a message from the management at South City Mall:

… we need to reassess how your parents are currently using the car park.  I would still be happy for parents to park and escort their children to school, providing they can clear the car park by 9.30am, when the customer count will start to build ( this is unless of course they are shopping and or dining at the centre !).

We will be hoping to have the Chemist Warehouse open by the middle of June, so would be aiming to make this change by Friday 12th / Monday 15th June”.

So there you have it, folks. We have been able to park there for free for much longer than anticipated, and I am sure you will join me in continuing to support South City. And remember not to park there (unless you’re shopping/ dining) to avoid a fine.

Good parking options close to school include $2 for 2 hours at The Crossing and $4 a day at Pilgrim Place.


There are a number of students at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery who are on the Autistic spectrum. Understanding this complex disorder is not easy, and I am hugely grateful to two of our parents, Alix and Lindsay for sourcing and sending me this comic strip explanation by comic strip artist Rebecca Burgess. If you’re at all interested in ASD, do have a look at The Art of Autism for an accessible explanation of this interesting subject.

Once level 2 restrictions are lifted, I would like to offer an information evening around neurodiversity. If anyone knows of any speakers or has any workshop ideas, please get in touch with me over the next few weeks.

Message from Ian

Next Wednesday I will be sending out the code that you need to book your IEM for the upcoming term.

Term 3 IEMS (Individual Education Meetings) are scheduled for Friday 3.7 & Monday 20.7. The IEM is the most important element of a student’s Learning Journey and it is vital that you book one.

For our IEM booking process we are using the “School Interviews” system.

To use this system use the following link to find the booking website… this link should take you straight to the booking page.

The whole process is pretty user friendly but I have created a guide to support your use of the process should you need some support. Use the following link to access the guide.

PLEASE NOTE…Each term you will need a new code to access the Ao Tawhiti booking system… 

Message from Duncan

We’re back!

It’s been fantastic getting back to school these past couple of weeks. It feels like we’re slowly getting back to normal!

I’m constantly inspired by our wonderful community. The collective ability to care for each other and roll with change is phenomenal. I am certain that it was not an easy time for many of you as you juggled huge uncertainty in your lives whilst trying to keep your children learning from home. The kind and supportive messages I received from so many of you were very much appreciated.

I’m proud to work with amazing colleagues and I’m grateful for all their efforts. It was not easy, in such a short period of time, for the staff of the school to re-imagine learning programs, make them accessible to our students and learn a whole bunch of new strategies. Not to mention figuring out how to manage their own personal situations. We’ve certainly grown our own collective capacity as a result. Again the patience and understanding of our community during this process was wonderful and a reminder to us of just how special this community is.


By now you will be aware that Steven has made the decision that this will be his last year as our Director. I first met Steven in 2006 and we became colleagues in 2007. We have worked together in many capacities over the years. As LAs inside a community, as community leaders, Senior leaders and of course for the past 6 and half years I’ve been part of his senior leadership team. As a result this has afforded me tremendous insight into the contribution he has made to our community. He is no doubt hugely knowledgeable of almost all matters related to education, he has a strong systems capacity and works tirelessly for the school. For me, however, his attribute that stands strongest, is his huge care and affection for the students at our school. Always seeing the potential in young people he has been a champion for listening and valuing the perspectives that they all bring.

I’ve learned a lot from working with and for Steven, I’ve become a better educator and leader as a result. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him for the rest of this year and I wish him well, as I’m sure we all do, for wherever his journey takes him next.

Message from Megan

Leading My Learning – new website

The Community Leaders and I have been creating a website to support students with various aspects of leading their learning. The idea that the student is central in directing their own learning is at the heart of our school’s special character. We wanted to create a go-to zone where students can find tips, tools and resources to help them do this well. 

We’ll be continuing to add to and refine the site, but we have published it now and invite you to view it here. Among other things, look out for study tips, inspiration for self-directed learning and materials to support wellbeing, some of which are intended specifically for parents. We encourage you to take a good look around the site and hope you find some useful bits and pieces.

News / Notices

Red Cross Letters of Kindness

Over the lockdown a lot of elderly people around the country were very isolated, and some still are. We have partnered up with the Red Cross to reconnect with them without breaking physical distancing measures. If you want to get involved, write a letter, draw a picture or make a card that will be delivered to elderly around Christchurch via Meals on Wheels deliveries to help cheer them up.

The Red Cross is printing custom A5 sized envelopes to send everything out in, so make sure all your pieces are no bigger than A5 if you don’t want any fold lines through them!

Bring your finished pieces to Courtney Allison (floor 3), and they will be sent over to the Red Cross for delivery.


End of Year Exams – Digital Versions

Last year we offered digital versions of the NCEA History exams. This trial was successful. Therefore, our school is looking to scale up our offering of digital exams this year. Teachers will be talking with students regarding which subjects will be available and how any online learning experience this year could help build their confidence in digital exams.

NZQA is continuing to increase the number of digital exams, with 21 subjects across three levels available this year, including Te Reo Māori, Te Reo Rangatira and five other languages. It will be supporting us with practical advice and information about infrastructure, devices and guidance for teachers to support students.

Resources to help students get ready include practice activities, digitised versions of 2019 exams and video resources showing how to use features and functions of the exams. More information can be found on the Student Exam Hub via


Sports Coordinator News

Kia ora team,I hope you’re enjoying getting back to some sense of normality.

In light of the current situation, I’m excited to be able to offer secondary school winter sports this term. I can appreciate that some of you may be feeling a little nervous about returning to group activities. Please rest assured that we will be implementing & following all of the MoE/MoH requirements for a safe return to sport. See below a link with the sports on offer & the permission slip. Link

Primary Sports

Primary Sports Canterbury are planning to resume their weekly sports competitions at the start of term three. I’ll send out the sports on offer as soon as this has been confirmed.

School Cross Country

We are going to run our schools cross country on Friday 12th June, at Hagley Park. Time to be confirmed. This event will be open to any student who wants to give it ago. 

Stay safe & well team!


Help Needed – Learning Support

A number of our students who have qualified for a Reader and/or Writer for NCEA assessments. We are desperately short of Reader/writers. If you have a couple of hours to spare and would be prepared to offer your time as a Reader/Writer it would be very much appreciated. All you need to do is read the assessment to the student and write down what they say – training will be provided.If you could help it would be very much appreciated.




Students from floor two with an interest in growing veges, have got their project underway! Using fundraising from the sale of chocolates, they purchased a Vegepod and constructed it from kitset. If you are interested in what a Vegepod is please follow the link;

Their next mission is to fill it with potting mix and get some plants in there. A big thanks to Karen and Paul Wylaars from Zealandia who are supporting this phase, which would otherwise have been expensive. 

Our Vegepod is a great addition to our balcony and we hope there will be more engaging options popping up throughout the year.


Philosophy Students Complete University Courses

Our senior philosophy students have completed their university courses. This year we had students working on Phil110 – Science: Good, Bad, Bogus and Phil235 – Cyberspace, Cyborgs, and the Meaning of Life. The students have done very well and have managed to complete their courses despite the lockdown. I’m very proud of them. The grades for work have been excellent and we now look forward to hearing of their final results.


Careers News

University of Otago Liaison Visit

Wednesday 3 June 12.45pm

Careers Room Level One, Ao TawhitiWant to find out what you can study at Otago University? All welcome 

University of Canterbury Information Evening 

6pm 3 June

A useful event for senior students and their caregivers. To book see:

Follow Your Dreams

Congratulations to Imke Koekemoer who won the 15 years and under division in the Follow Your Dreams virtual dance competition in May. 


Olden Days Inquiry in Homebase Pukeko

Over the past two weeks HB Pukeko have been learning about the Olden Days. We had an interest in how things were 100 years ago. We wrote a whole lot of questions and then researched them to find out when different things were invented. We lined up our answers as a timeline.This week we have also made old fashioned hats and had a dress up day where we learnt more about what schools were like 100 years ago. We are hoping to go to Ferrymead Heritage Park in the next few weeks. Here are some photos of what we have been up to.


Samoan Language Week in HB Melva

Honor spent a learning at home day organising a day of events to support us in our journey this week experiencing her Samoan culture.

Honor organised her Aunty Flory Sio Levy to spend the afternoon with us teaching us a sāsā for greeting people when they arrive. Lots of focus, practice and laughter ensued. 

We were very proud of how the tamariki linked in all their actions as the drum beat rippled through the school.

Then it was time for us to enjoy the awesome food Honor’s Mum, Daisy had brought in. There were very happy faces as we enjoyed panikeke Honor’s Nana, Aina had made us all. We also loved the pani popo Honor’s Aunty, Stacey Lene had made for the kids and for us staff as well.   We are so very grateful to Honor and her family for creating this wonderful afternoon for us.


Sarah M’s Community

Welcome back

It has been great to see many of the students’ faces (in real life) again, and some parents. Thanks for your kindness and compassion as we get things back up and running again.

Friday L2L in our community

This term we are working as a floor, with Kay’s community. Over the last two weeks, we have looked at the effects of lock-down on ourselves, others, and the wider society. This has been a time of reflection and an opportunity for us to think about how we can affect things in response to the pandemic. Our end game is to allow students to think about those that are in need of support in our community and wider, and provide them the resources or opportunities that might benefit them. Allowing our students to further learn kindness, compassion, and empathy amongst other things, along the way. We are naming this the Ao Tawhiti Student Volunteer Army. As a parent/caregiver, if you interested in supporting this initiative or another time during the week, please contact me. We would love to have you involved. 

School Values

This fortnight I’m going to talk about Whanaungatanga.The relationships we form through shared experiences and working together give us a solid foundation to nurture, guide, and direct our students.Now, more than ever, we have had to demonstrate a fantastic ability to develop and form relationships. Learning from home via online mediums and zooms was fun, but now we have an amazing opportunity to take a negative and turn it into a positive with the guidance and support of our community. 

My email if you have any question –

Taika Waititi Video Competition

Congratulations to those that entered the competition during lock-down and well done to the following for their places. 

  • 1st place: Lulu Cronje and Bella Duff
  • 2nd place: Logan Darcy
  • 3rd place: Sabrina Robertson

Check out our Instagram page to view the winning entry. 


Level One Community update (Craig’s Community)

It is great to be back on site and back in our building. One of the things that is special about our school is the freedom afforded to students to direct their own learning. We encourage each student to have an element of self directed learning (SDL) within their learning plan and sometimes it can be difficult for students to find a focus or develop a purpose with their SDL.

Therefore, this Friday, during L2L, we had a focus on SDL and Creativity. Our special character affords us the opportunity to dream big. So, while “studying” for example, is a worthy use of SDL time, the challenge we want to offer our students is to move from the simple, or consuming other people’s content to creating our own knowledge and things. To set the scene and get in our creative zone, we did some squiggle birds (worth a go if you have 5 minutes ) and another creative exercise drawing on the windows to add inspiration to the landscape outside. The rest of the day was students working in their chosen workshops or following their own passions. Over the coming weeks, we will keep developing these skills and attributes, like creative thinking, as we build our capacity to dream big and create awesome learning experiences.


HB Piwakawaka – Exploring Māoritanga


Digital and Collaborative Learning / Minecraft

CLs Sarah and Laura have started a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital & Collaborative Learning to better support ways for us to engage students in collaborative practice using digital platforms. The ultimate outcome is to support our students in creating and promoting a digital tool that engages our community of students in Te Tiriti O Waitangi. Our first foray into using a new digital world was with Kupu, a Te Reo app and Nga Motu, The Islands in Minecraft. In this world, the students work together to learn Te Reo Maori, explore early Maori settlements and ways of life. Within this digital context, students are learning key 21st century skills like communication, resilience and collaboration.

Sarah & Laura

Other Notices