Sports Wrap Up - 27 March 2017

After completing our Aroha Swimming Sports we moved onto South Cluster.  St Mary’s had twenty two students competing against the five other schools in our cluster.  Not only did we win all three relays,  but from the twenty two students who competed, seventeen have qualified for the Western Bay of Plenty Swimming Championships.  Giving St Mary’s by far the largest contribution to the South Cluster Team.

The student lead mini-triathlon was great fun.  It was fantastic to see so many students giving it a go.  A massive thank you to Chris Willett and his team who helped organise the morning.  Chris’ teams encouragement of the students to enjoy themselves on the day, went a long way towards making the day a great experience for everyone.  I am looking forward to expanding the event next year to incorporate more year groups.

I am very excited to announce Courtney Smith will be helping me for the remainder of the year.  Courtney is in the third year of her Bachelor of Sport and Recreation at Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology (formerly Bay of Plenty Polytechnic).  In order to gain her degree Courtney will be undertaking a research project.  This will be to establish an evidence based (scientific research) best practice fundamental skills programme with our year 3 and 4 students, focussing on catching, throwing and passing.

Aroha Team News

The Aroha Team have already had many experiences this term.  A trip to Waimarino, Swimming Sports, a Triathlon, to name a few. Lachlan has shared his Triathlon experience with us.

Aroha Team Triathlon

Mr Finlayson came up with an idea to have a school triathlon. He asked the House Captains and Chris from Sports Bay of Plenty to help. I am a house captain so I helped. We had a meeting to discuss who did the jobs. Jacob and I made the posters and put them up so people knew that the triathlon was happening. All the house captains had to move the rocks in the estuary so they didn’t get in the way of the swimmers. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to go on the footpaths because there would be too many cars, so we arranged to do the bike and the run on the field. We planned to do the swim in the estuary. 

This is how the event unfolded for me...

As I stood at the start line in the estuary, I was excited to swim in the surprisingly warm water. The current was pushing me backwards. After the swim, I quickly hopped out of the estuary and sped off on my bike, zooming around the field. I felt nervous for the running because I am not a very good runner. I just tried to run my fastest because it was only a lap of the field. I was most excited to go on the slippery slide at the end and slide on my bum as quick as a cheetah. I layed down at the finish because I was pooped and watched the last races of the day. Then we all got together and had first, second and third prizes. The winners got a chocolate bar. Henry came first, Callum came second, and Isaiah came third. This was our first school triathlon. I enjoyed it and everyone seemed to have fun. I am looking forward to doing a triathlon in the future.

By Lachlan Aubrey

Tracking Success

Will there be data compiled to track the success rates of students within the collaborative learning environment?  

This is a very timely question from our community.  Our latest ERO Report stated that: “The important next step is for the board and senior leaders to continue to evaluate the impact of current initiatives, such as innovative teaching environments, on various groups of children, especially those at risk of underachievement.” 

One way that St Mary’s School tracks the success rates of learners is our commitment to internal evaluation.  “Evaluation is the engine that drives improvement and innovation.  Internal evaluation is undertaken to assess what is and is not working, and for whom, and then to determine what changes are needed.” (ERO - Effective Internal Evaluation For Improvement).

Another way that St Mary’s School tracks the success rates of learners is through monitoring cohorts and in particular individual students.  Senior leaders, team leaders and teachers meet regularly to discuss, monitor and track individual students who are causing concern and all students to ensure that sufficient, and in some cases accelerated, progress is being made.  It is important to track not just academic progress, but progress in areas like the Key Competencies.  

As part of our research project for the Teacher Led Innovation Fund, we are also collecting data from teachers, students and parents to track improvements in teacher practice and student agency.  

Research can confirm that collaboration between teachers improves teacher quality, and in turn quality teaching has a significant effect on student learning and achievement.  “Collaborative learning, team teaching, using ICT in learning and peer teaching are all recognized as effective methods with strong research about each of these areas.” Professor David Mitchell.

Anna MacKinnon

Deputy Principal

Special Character - 27 March 2017

The Monday liturgies during lent have focused on Caritas, Our inspiring Saints and People, World Water day and the Annunciation. Students in classes have started focused learning activities from the Caritas Lent Unit: Your face Lord, do I seek.  With a  special focus: JUST WATER: Climate Change in the Pacific. The Aroha hub students are organising a fundraiser for Caritas, details will be out soon.

We celebrated our first whole school Mass at Church on Friday to celebrate St Joseph’s Day.  Student participation at Mass was excellent, it was a very special mass where we thanked the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny for all they have done for our school and for others. 


If you are interested in having your child baptised, please phone Margie at the Church office, 07-578 6209.  If you have any questions please feel free to see me or email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

Lent timetable

Over the next few weeks we have a busy Lent timetable. Please take note of these times.  

Thursday 30 March: Benediction - 2pm BAMJC. The Eucharist will be present in the chapel after Mass from 10am if you would like to take time to come, reflect and pray with our Lord. Classes will be visiting throughout the day, all Whanau are welcome.

Holy Week

Friday 7 April: 11am Palm Sunday liturgy followed by a Donkey procession - students are encouraged to bring “Jesus Clothes” to dress in.

Monday 10 April: 10am Washing of the Feet and Last Supper Liturgy

Tuesday 11 April: 10am Garden of Gethsemane Liturgy

Wednesday 12 April: 10am Good Friday Liturgy

Thursday 13 April: Way of the Cross - times to be confirmed

Lent Prayer

E te Ariki, we pray for Your guidance during our Lenten journey. May these times of reflection and prayer help us to more clearly see your face – the face of mercy. Provide us with the strength to be Your voice and to make good choices. Help us to help others face the tests that challenge them. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Teresa Rush

Director of Religious Studies


News from our DP - 22 February 2017

In Week 2, term 1 we had a parent information evening on future focused and collaborative teaching and learning.  If you missed it, you can access the slideshow on our website.  Over the next few weeks we will be answering the questions, that were raised at that meeting, in our newsletter and on our website.  

How is St Mary’s School preparing our students for secondary school, university and more ‘traditional’ environments?

At St Mary’s we work hard to make the transition to Intermediate and secondary school as smooth as possible.  Our job is to prepare students both academically and socially and over the last couple of year’s we have been working closely with Aquinas College so that important information is shared. 

We are preparing our students for life in a changed and changing world.  Education must prepare our children “for jobs that don’t yet exist, to use technologies that have not been invented and to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet” Kath Murdoch sums it up nicely in this 2 minute clip:

Research states that the successful transition to school and the ability to deal with change relies heavily on the students acquiring certain key dispositions or competencies.  These competencies are a valued aspect of the teaching and learning in our classrooms and align closely with our Catholic Character.  

As required by the New Zealand Curriculum, we place an emphasis on the following Key Competencies:   Thinking; Using Language, Symbols and Texts; Managing Self; Relating to Others; Participating and Contributing.  You can find more information about the NZC Key Competencies here:

ERO, through their research on ‘Transition from Primary to secondary’, has identified the following aspects that make transition successful:  “How well students respond to the changes is largely dependent on two key aspects – students’ personal resources and coping skills (such as their acquisition of the Key Competencies described in The New Zealand Curriculum framework); [2] and the school culture into which students transition. Schools can support students to make successful transitions by helping them to develop a sense of themselves as competent and capable beings characterised by:

  • a ’can-do’ attitude
  • a sense of self capability
  • resourcefulness
  • resilience
  • strategies to deal with challenges
  • independence
  • skills relating to others such as listening actively, being tolerant and cooperation
  • a sense of contribution to school and community.”

At St Mary’s, we are excited to join you in the journey of developing lifelong learners who are able to collaborate, be creative, and solve problems that really matter in all of the environments that they encounter.  

Anna MacKinnon
Deputy Principal

News from our Chair - 22 February 2017

It’s hard to believe we’re already 4 weeks into Term 1 and its great to see the students settling into their new routines and classrooms well.

Firstly, I’d like to welcome our new teachers, Lisa Walter and Amber Simenson to the staff on behalf of the Board.  It was lovely seeing them welcomed officially at the New Families liturgy and I’m sure they’re enjoying getting to know their students and families.

You all will see that earthworks are underway for the new classrooms also which is very exciting.. We appreciate everyone’s care and consideration when moving around the building site to ensure we keep it as safe as possible during the build process. Dont forget to have a look at the classroom plan on the notice board outside the staff room.

The best news we have to share so far though, is the Final ERO External Evaluation Report which has now been published in full on their web site. 

Check out our ERO report here

We are very pleased with their evaluation which shows that we have a strong leadership team, teaching initiatives, and processes fully supporting staff  and students to achieve to the best of their abilities. They comment on the purposeful and supportive community relationships we have, particularly with the Cluny Sisters and our parish, and our strong commitment to our Special Catholic Character.  Their recommendations are for us to continue to develop and evaluate our innovative teaching environments and continue in our good work.  Well done and congratulations everyone on a great job.

Take care and enjoy the rest of the activities and learning experiences to come this Term.

Claire Stott
Board Chair

Aroha Team Swimming Sports

What a perfect kiwi day it was to have our Aroha team swimming sports yesterday.  With competitive and non-competitive events available, it was fantastic to see the students of all abilities having a go.

Racing in the main pool was a lot closer this year than in previous years.  From the initial observation of the results it looks like we will have a healthy sized team going to the South Cluster swimming sports, which is a fantastic result for the school.  Congratulations to Ryan House who won the year 6 relay and Viard House who won the year 5 relay.

With 45 events running across 2 pools, the day couldn’t have run as smoothly as it did without the help of our parents.  On behalf of everybody racing on the day I would like to say a massive thank you to all our marshals, timekeepers, recorders, organisers and supporters.  We are truly blessed to have so many fantastic parents who give up their time, to support their children and the event.

Swimming Results

Year 5 Girls         
1st Ariana Workman
2nd Hannah Greaves     
3rd Jessica Taane         

Year 5 Boys
1st Will Quin
2nd Finn Curragh
3rd Luka Mahy

Year 6 Girls        
1st Renee Carey           
2nd Niamh Manning         
3rd Stella Roper           

Year 6 Boys
1st Henry Scholes
2nd Charlie Hammerich
3rd Max Broadmore

St Mary’s ‘Spirit’ Award - for giving 100% in every event
Axel Osterman

Steven Finlayson
Sports Co Ordinator

Welcoming new parishioners to our Parish


A Parish in love with God and alive with joyful worship, active ministry and community outreach.


Build community.

Communities grow stronger when citizens regularly and persistently do a variety of simple things together that give them chances to connect with others.

·        Say hello to strangers

·        Greet people

·        Start talking to people you see regularly

·        Start or participate is a conversation with those who you do not know so well.

To build community is a community responsibility, for us all.

As one of the many volunteers involved in various ministries in our Parish we would be very grateful if you could be aware of potential “New Parishioners”, assist in making them feel welcome and please hand them one of the “New Parishioner Booklets”.  For those of you who may not be aware these booklets are available in the back of the Church by the main foyer entrance and also by the noticeboard opposite the Chapel.

If at all possible, please introduce the new parishioner to Father Mark.

Thank you for your service to our community.

Matthew 25”25 – “I was a stranger and you made me welcome”.

Please visit our Parish website for more information

Special Character 22 February 2017

We have had a very prayerful start to the year.  It was amazing to welcome 52 new students and families to the school last week. With such a big group of new families we really need to extend our welcome to our new families and help them to feel part of our community.

Each week we have a liturgy on Monday morning at 9am, families are welcome to attend and pray with us.  Most Thursday mornings we celebrate mass at 9am in the Chapel, all welcome. Our first Thursday mass in week 2  was to bless the Liturgical and House leaders for this year, classroom masses have now begun.

Last Thursday night the Bishop blessed the staff of the local schools, thank you to the students and families who attended to support our school. 

Next Sunday we look forward to the combined Parish Mass at Aquinas college, 10:30am, Sunday 5 March. Followed by a Parish picnic.

Our first School Parish Mass is on Sunday 26 March at 10:30am.

It is great to see the children’s liturgy has started at the 10:30am mass on Sunday.  Many of our families attend this mass and if you have any questions about attending mass please just ask me.

Staff have prayer in the chapel on a Tuesday morning, if you have an intention you would like us to include in our prayers please email me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lent begins next week, students will make their lenten promises which we will pray for in our Promise Liturgy on Monday.  An Ash Wednesday Liturgy will be at 10am in the BAMJC, we extend an invite to all our community. 

Lent is a time for us to grow more ‘Christlike’ to challenge ourselves to do better each day.  It is a great time to make new ‘good habits’.  It is always a challenge to come up with a lenten promise - a good idea is to ‘take something positive’ up - setting aside time each day to pray as an individual or a family, helping those in need... It also provides an opportunity to work on things as a family. 

Atrium for the junior school has begun for the year and we would like to thank; Mary Pat, Noelene and Desiree for all the wonderful work that they do each week to help our students develop their relationship with God. 

This year as a school, we will be focusing on Scripture. Our target is to provide opportunities for : All students to increase their knowledge and understanding of the relevance of scripture in their daily lives.   I will let you know further details on this throughout the year.

E te Atua Manaaki ki a koutou

Teresa Rush
Director of Religious Studies