From the Principal - 23 October

Kiaora Koutou

Greetings whanau, and a warm welcome to all those new families and students to our school this term.  It is always great, after communicating and meeting with parents throughout the enrolment process, to see new students in their St Mary’s uniform turning up for school.  This term we have welcomed 18 new students to date and look forward to celebrating this at our new children and families Liturgy on Monday 3 November.

For some students this will be the last term they spend at St Mary’s and so hopefully one that is fondly remembered.  St Mary’s is a school of opportunity and I am sure as our year 6 leavers are evaluating their time here, it will be such the many opportunities to succeed in a variety of areas that are called to mind.  As we progress through the term, events will occur that recognise these opportunities and the successes had within.

Learning, of course, remains a key priority for students and teachers.  At the end of this term students progress against National Standards will be reported on.  It is therefore extremely important that students focus on achieving current and future learning goals in their efforts to best position themselves against the relevant standard.  If you have any questions about your child’s progress then please see the classroom teacher.


We are on the count down to our annual St Mary’s Fireworks Gala and together with you applaud the organisation that is occurring at many levels around us.  It is once again looking like being an outstanding community event that will showcase our community and school.

Thank you to all those who have volunteered a small amount of time.  It is these small contributions by many that make such events so successful.  I am aware of the need for a number of further volunteers in a variety of capacities so if able, and you have not done so yet, please let either your class representative know or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sporting Success 

We had several students achieve at a national level of the holidays.  Of note are India Jarden, Gymnastics; Jess Carey and Cullan Fuller Surf Lifesaving.

India placed third in the vault at the Gym Sports NZ National Gymnastics Championships, while at the New Zealand Surf Lifesaving National Pool Champs Jess won a gold medal in the obstacle relay team and fifth in the 50m fins and Cullan a silver medal in the obstacle relay.

2016 Enrolments

We are now at capacity in years 1, 3 and 6 meaning all future enrolments in these year levels for 2016 will need to be placed on our waiting list.  We still have places for students turning 5 during or after the month of April (New Entrant Year 0’s) but anticipate this year level also being at capacity in the near future.  We will, of course, give priority to those children who already have siblings at St Mary’s but in order to do so we must have completed enrolment forms on file.

End of Year Events

Term four is traditionally dynamic and one of celebration and as a result we have a number of events that start to happen.  It is important that careful attention is paid to all forms of communication to ensure nothing is missed and your child is well prepared for all that is set to occur.  Please take note of the school events calendar for events that may affect you.

Mrs Sally Washer

As you are aware Mrs Sally Washer is retiring from St Mary’s School at the end of this year.

Sally has been teaching for 38 years, 32 years in Catholic Education and 16 years as our Director of Religious Studies, only taking time away briefly to have her three children, Matthew, John and Emma.  Sally and her husband Peter plan to retire together. We are very happy for them both.

Sally holds a very special place in the hearts of all children, staff, religious and parents of our St Mary’s community and we wish her all the very best for her retirement.  

You are all warmly invited to attend a Mass on Tuesday 8 December at 1pm to celebrate and thank Sally for her many years of dedicated service.  

Ben Fuller


From the Principal - 23 September 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

Greetings to all St Mary’s Families. As you are no doubt aware we are at the conclusion of an extremely busy and dynamic term of learning and opportunity at St Mary’s Catholic School.  I am sure, as students think and reflect on this term, there will be a number with primary school highlights and lifelong memories in place as a result of participation in one of the many activities this term.

Reporting Term 3

By now you should have received notification that your child’s interim report in Writing is available to view in their online portfolio.  This report completes our interim reporting requirements for the academic year.  If you have not yet seen this report and the attached learning story please take time to view it with your child.  Should you have any questions or queries in regard to the content of the report then these should be addressed to the classroom teacher.

Art Week

In 2013 we celebrated an amazing week focused on the visual arts.  It was the success of this week that prompted the immediate planning of a follow up Art Week this year and the inclusion of a longer term visual arts focus on an alternate year basis.  

What the children have accomplished this term in Art is truly amazing and the compilation of this work is a testament to our focus and value placed on the Arts.  I therefore strongly recommend that you make the effort and time to come in and view your children’s work and if able attend our Arts evening on Thursday where a number of our performing groups will also be on display.

Of course a week such as this would not be possible without effective leadership and organisation.  Laura Grace and Sally Washer have been the team driving this organisation and supporting teachers to help students to produce the amazing work I have referred to.  

My thanks, as Principal, to them both.


Next term we will move across to the summer season which will signal a change in uniform to varying degrees.  For all students currently in our new uniform this will simply mean a change in footwear.  Black shoes and socks will be substituted for black roman sandals.  For all students still wearing our old uniform, it is the summer version that should now be worn.  The change over date for the summer uniform is Monday 19 October.  

WBoP Winter Sports

This year we have had a total of 8 teams progress to the finals of the Western Bay of Plenty Winter Sports tournament, with all bar our two football teams winning the right to compete in the division one finals and verse the top teams from the six other clusters.  At time of writing I am unsure of results across the codes but do know that our rugby boys, though up against some much bigger opposition, have represented our school well.

2016 Enrolments

We are currently experiencing high levels of inquiry in regard to prospective 2016 enrolments, with some year levels already at capacity.  We will of course give priority to those children who already have siblings at St Mary’s but, in order to do so, we must have completed enrolment forms on file.  Therefore if you have a child who is turning five at any time before or during 2016 please ensure enrolment procedures have been completed.

Self Review at St Mary’s

Currently we are asking for feedback in relation to several aspects of school operation.  Last week you would have received notice of a survey regarding the reporting of student achievement.  In addition to this we are reviewing our complaints and behaviour management policy at at governance level.

Walking School Bus

We are exploring the following options for the walking school bus.  

Route 1.

Meet at the corner of Fraser St/16th Ave – walking along Fraser St across 15th Ave & 14th Ave then turning down 13th Ave to school. 

Route 2.

Meet at Memorial Park car park (Mini golf/railway end)  OR  QE2 car park, then walk along Fraser St, Harvey St (entering at back entrance of school) OR walk along Grace Rd to 13th Ave – school. Look out for a meeting early next term for more information

Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller


From the Principal - 18 August 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

Greetings to all St Mary’s Families.  As we approach the halfway stage of Term 3, I am sure we are all now in anticipation of spring and some warmer weather.  We have had a busy couple of weeks at St Mary’s with still plenty of excitement to come.

School Mass - Feast of the Assumption

Last Friday we were lucky enough to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption at our Parish Church, St Mary Immaculate.  It was great to have a number of parents at our Mass to witness the exemplary behaviour of our students and the special service led by Father Mark.  It is always a special occasion when we can combine in such a way to celebrate key aspects of our faith.

Student Led Conferences

I was extremely impressed with our Student Led Conferences last week.  As a parent I had the opportunity of participating and, as a Principal took time to observe and witness the great time reflecting and connecting with student learning.  

I would like to publically thank all teachers for the way they prepared their students for this event and congratulate our students for the way they so expertly shared their learning progress and achievement.

2016 Enrolments

We are already experiencing pressure on our school roll in regard to student places in 2016.  It is likely that many of our new entrant enrolments next year will need to spend a small period of time on a waiting list prior to starting with us.  We will of course give priority to those children who already have siblings at St Mary’s but in order to do so we must have completed enrolment forms on file.  Therefore if you have a child who is turning five at any time before or during 2016 please ensure enrolment procedures have been completed.

PTA Quiz Night

Once again the annual PTA Quiz night will go down as one of the great successes of 2015 at St Mary’s.  A big thank you to Clair Stott and her team for the tireless efforts put towards the organisation and running of the night.  At time of writing I understand estimated profits to be approximately $14,000 which is both an amazing achievement and of great future value to our school.

Congratulations to ‘Teachers on Duty’ winners of the quiz on the night!  Your combined intellectual capacity should be reassuring for all parents.


I have been working with NZ Uniforms recently to continue to improve both supply and development of school uniform items.  We have had a rather cold winter for Tauranga standards and though we hope the worst has past, NZ Uniforms now have thermals in stock that can be added as an additional layer.  Black for boys and white for girls.  

Traffic Management

It is important that we remain aware of our obligations as road users when driving and parking around our school neighbourhood.  As previously communicated please ensure your vehicle is parked appropriately in a designated space before stopping to pick up or drop off children.  Unfortunately complaints from neighbours have increased recently due to parents once again parking on grass verges and across driveways.

Gold Sponsors

As a school we are extremely fortunate to have a number of Gold Sponsors who support our Vision and contribute to the many opportunities we aim to offer our children.  

We welcome Ross Abernethy and Paul Broatch, our latest Gold Group Sponsors from Abernethy Broatch Law.  

You will learn more about Abernethy Broatch Law in later issues of the newsletter. 

Should you or someone you know require any further information in regard to becoming a Gold Sponsor of St Mary’s Catholic School please do not hesitate to make contact with either myself or Theresa in our front office.


Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller



From the Principal - 11 September 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

Greetings to all St Mary’s families.  I am writing to you at the later half of a very busy and exciting term at St Mary’s and there is more to come!  I was immensely proud of our senior students last Monday night as they took to the stage at Bay Court and presented as a group and in some cases individually the standard to which we can reach in Music and the Arts.  

I know many parents and members of our community who witnessed our Tauranga Music Festival Performance will agree with me when I speak of the high level to which our students performed.  My thanks on behalf of our school community to Sally Washer and members of our Aroha team who prepared our students so well.

Two weeks ago we had a great day of sport and fun with our visitng Selwyn Ridge staff and students who were splendid guests.  The day took me back to times when school sporting exchanges were common place.  With this in mind it is something we hope to do again.

It was also great to be able to spend two days at camp last week, again with our Aroha team.  Though the weather was not what you would classify as perfect, attitudes and application to the varied activities was not thwarted.  I was again impressed to witness the many challenges and opportunities undertaken by our senior students.

Moving forward to the term end we have one last event to be enjoyed and celebrated in the area of visual arts.  Week 10 will be Arts Week at St Mary’s, and though this will be a week of celebration, what we will in effect be doing is recognising work that has occurred in classes over the last two terms.  

As a school we have once again enlisted the expertise of Laura Grace as we plan, prepare and present a celebration of the visual arts.  As in 2013 our Arts Week will again conclude with a presentation evening on Thursday 24 September.  More details in regard to this are communicated later in this newsletter.

Communication to Teachers

At St Mary’s we definitely encourage active communication between caregivers and our classroom teachers.  However, it is important to note that teachers may not be able to read or respond to messages during the school day due to teaching responsibilities.  Therefore, any information or communication that may be urgent in regard to your child should be made by phone through our front office.

We have had some instances lately of parents attempting to convey changes in afterschool organisation through the teacher via email with short notice. 


With a little under two months before our annual Taylor Brothers Fireworks Gala our PTA are deep into the final planning. One of the key objectives being, gaining enough volunteers to ensure the event’s success.

 As you may well be aware, community raised income is a key component of a successful school.  It gives us the ability to turn good into great by the provision of high end resources and key personnel.

Our St Mary’s PTA has an outstanding record of consistently raising in excess of $60,000 a year, a major component of this being provided by our Fireworks Gala. 

In the next few weeks our PTA will be asking for your commitment to this year’s event which could involve as little as one hour of your time, on or leading up to the night.

I therefore ask, if at all possible, to support the continued growth and development of our school by supporting our PTA.  Keep an eye for the information and when it appears please consider carefully a role that will suit you.

Looking forward to another outstanding Fireworks Gala at St Mary’s!

Traffic Management

It is important that we remain aware of our obligations as road users when driving and parking around our school neighbourhood.  As previously communicated please ensure your vehicle is parked appropriately in a designated space before stopping to pick up or drop off children.  Unfortunately complaints from neighbours have increased recently due to parents once again parking on grass verges and across driveways.


Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller


From the Principal - 27 July 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

 Greetings to all St Mary’s Families.  Welcome to term 3 - one that poses much excitement, activity and opportunities in a range of areas.  Information in regard to some of these I will expand on later.  Last Monday we welcomed ten new students and their families to our school, some for the first time.  

I personally look forward to sharing in the many activities and experiences that will make your time at St Mary’s rewarding and successful.

New Board of Trustee Member
It is my pleasure to welcome and congratulate Mr Vincente (Vic) Villegas to our St Mary’s Board of Trustees.  Vic will join us as a representative of Bishop Steve (the proprietor).  I am sure you will join me in welcoming Vic to this governance role and the future contributions of leadership to our school. 

Assessment and Reporting
Our first reporting event of this term will be our Student Led Conferences in week 4.  Student Led Conferences are now an established part of how we report to parents and one where students take a lead role.  This is a process that we continue to refine and grow as a student centred reporting tool. 

I mentioned last term that you are no doubt starting to see your child’s eportfolio take shape and able to visually understand how each individual aspect will combine to form a record of learning, achievement and progress over their time at St Mary’s.  This term we will add a writing Learning Story and progress towards a National Standards comment to e portfolios which will complete both the provision of a learning exemplar in each core curriculum area and our interim reporting for 2015.

Student Led Conferences will be held on Wednesday 12 August and will be 45 minutes long.

Times available will include:

 1.00 - 1.45 pm

1.45 - 2.30 pm

3.00 - 3.45 pm

3.45 - 4.30 pm

5.15 - 6.00 pm

Room 16J will have 10 minute Parent Teacher Interview times.

Please note that as in previous years, school will finish at 12.00 pm on this day and students will need to be collected from this time.  Should students require supervision until 3.00pm this will be provided in the Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey Centre from 1.30 pm.  

Students who have Student Led Conferences at either 1.00 pm or 1.45 pm will need to be collected 15 minutes prior to their conference time.

To book your conference time please go to;

Event code:  U5CDD 

Event code:  KSVCX (Room 16J only)

Investing in Educational Success (IES)
You may well have seen two recent media articles in relation to our school and the Government’s current IES initiative.  IES being the $359 million investment the Government promoted as means to raising educational achievement in New Zealand.  As a school we are focused on gaining as much benefit as possible for our school community inline with the initiative.  We have done this through the following:

Faith Based Community of Schools: The premise behind Community of Schools is schools working together to raise student achievement by sharing expertise in teaching and learning and by supporting each other.  We are currently working with eight other Catholic Schools in the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato area in the formation of this Faith Based Community, including St Thomas More and Aquinas College.  

Teacher Led Innovation Fund: As a school we have been successful in gaining funding from an associated IES initiative.  We are one of 72 schools nationally who have been provided with funding to undertake a specific innovation in regard to student learning.  

The purpose of our innovative practice will be to further enhance the value of a ‘Student Centered’ approach to assessment and reporting in the online environment, with a particular focus on priority learners.  

The objectives of the community are supported by the Government by way of various funding streams including additional teacher time and provision for professional learning development.  The focus of the community is centered around key data driven achievement objectives pertinent to all schools. 

At present we are working with the Ministry of Education to have our achievement challenges endorsed prior to progressing to the resourcing stage. Exploration will occur across curriculum with a focus on creativity, communication, collaboration and spirituality. These are key dispositions of learning to be valued and enhance the child as a lifelong 21st century learner.  I would personally like to congratulate and thank Mrs Janet McCarroll, Mrs Anna MacKinnon and Miss Jana Benson on the work they collectively put into the design and completion of the proposal.

After School Transport Arrangements
Thank you to those who are continuing to be both conscious and considerate of our community and its residents before and after school.  However, following an incident last week I must also ask that you are vigilant in regard to your own children and have a clear understanding with them in regard to any arrangements that are made.  Parents of junior students may wish to ensure teachers are also informed should there be a change of routine or arrangements, particularly in regard to children getting home from school.

Aroha Events and Activities
Our Aroha team has a number of events and activities this term that are sure to be exciting for all involved. 

  • In week 7 this term they will attend a camp at Totara Springs that I am sure will challenge all students and maybe some parents and teachers too!
  • On the evening of Monday 31 August they will all be participating in the Tauranga Music Festival’s opening night.
  • Our annual South Cluster Winter Sports tournament is scheduled for later in the term followed by further opportunity for those teams that go on to Western Bay of Plenty level.

I am certainly looking forward to sharing in the success of our senior students this term.


Nga Mihi Nui
Ben Fuller