From The Principal 15 November 2018

Tena koutou katoa, Talofa Lava and a very warm welcome to everyone in our school community. 

A special welcome to Alexander Carter. 

I am very excited to announce that Ben Fuller is now back from study leave.  Welcome back Ben, it is great to have you back with us!  

Taylor Bros Transport Fireworks & Gala
A huge thank you to everyone who supported our fireworks gala this year.  We definitely wouldn’t have had the success that we have had without the input from so many.  In particular I would like to thank Taryn Joseph (parent and owner of  Thyme Management), Lee-Ann Taylor, Ana McFarlane, the whole of the PTA and St Mary’s staff for your hard work and dedication.  The gala is a huge undertaking and I have a whole new appreciation of the organisation involved.  

We had approximately 5000 people through the gate and it was a busy night.  The fireworks finale was incredible.  I will keep you informed of the money raised once that has been finalised.  

Jump Jam
Congratulations must go to all of our Jump Jam Teams and their coaches.  

1st year 1-4 open Team called Enchanters doing “Magic 2.0”. 

1st in year 4-8 all boys Team called the Misfits, doing “Captain jack”.

1st in  year 4-6 advanced open (the toughest division) Team called Senior Swifts doing song “Shake it off”.

3rd in year 4-6 open, Team called Crazy Circus doing song “Afro Circus”.

4th year 1-4 open Team called Muchachas doing Borriquito.

Learning Through Play
In Week 3, I was very lucky to attend a two day seminar run by Nathan Mikaere Wallis. This was an indepth look at the developing brain!  I walked away with a much deeper understanding of neuroscience research and it’s practical implications. 

Nathan is passionate about the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life and the development of the brain from conception to 32 years, with an emphasis on the early years of childhood and schooling.  He emphasises the importance for children to develop positive dispositions towards their learning and their culture, and to develop their creative and thinking skills.  

I highly recommend that you spend 40 minutes of your time listening to the following interviews, with Nathan, on Radio New Zealand:

What 3 - 7 Year olds Need to Learn - 26 mins

Kids With Interpersonal Skills Come From Homes Where There Are Rich Conversations - 17 mins.

I will be running two information sessions on Play based learning in the BAMJC on Tuesday 20th during our Open Morning, 9 - 10:30am.  

Thank you for your support.

That’s me signing off for the last time as Acting Principal.  Thank you for being such a supportive community during my time in this position, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and gained a great insight into the very diverse nature of the role of the principal.  

Nga mihi nui

Anna MacKinnon
Acting Principal

From The Principal 26 October 2018

Afio mai tua i vaitaimi fa, welcome back to Term 4!  

As I write this post, we have just returned from a beautiful long weekend of sunshine.  Our pool is 24 degrees, so swimming is just around the corner and just a reminder that we have now changed to our summer uniform with hats (named) now compulsory everyday.  Unfortunately no hat, no play!

A special welcome to our new students Maleyah Abalajon, Conor Amaru, Luke Chang, Tyler Coballes, Joseph Minkhorst, Hannah Minkhorst, Carl Palad, Annabelle Talbot and Ratu Veitaladrua.

Learning Term 4
This term our learning is all based around curiosity and inquiry.  Inquiry learning is driven by the curiosity of students about their world.  Inquiry encourages ‘connection, cooperation and collaboration’ with others in real contexts.  It is purposeful and authentic learning.   

Taylor Bros Transport Fireworks & Gala
It is now only 2 weeks until our extremely popular annual fireworks gala. We are still looking to our community to support this event through volunteers, sponsors and / or donations for our winning wheel.  

Tickets are being sold online only this year through eventbrite: or

Aroha Camp
Thank you to Aroha teachers, students and parents for making our Senior camp an amazing experience.  The teachers spent many hours preparing for our three day camp, and we certainly couldn’t have had such a wonderful experience without the input from our parents and the positive behaviour from our students.  It was great to see that the students rose to the challenge of some of the harder activities and gave everything a go.  The range of activities made camp an experience of a lifetime and I know that our students will remember it for many years to come. 

It is great to see our Whakapono students utilising and exploring our amazing asset right on our doorstep - the estuary.  Emma from Tidal discoveries came to take some of our students, parents and teachers into the estuary to spend time observing, monitoring and discovering.  Tidal Discoveries is a school led estuary, stream and dune monitoring program focusing in and around Tauranga Harbour. 

Learning Through Play
Next week, I am very lucky to be attending a two day seminar run by Nathan Mikaere Wallis. Nathan is a well known, gifted educator.  He has been a lecturer at Canterbury University, a neuroscience presenter for Brainwave and a child protection trainer.  He is a dynamic and inspiring presenter.  

It will be great to affirm the implementation of our ‘Learning Through Play’ philosophy that we have been developing over the last couple of years at St Mary’s, based on research and practice.  I’m sure that it will also verify the importance of the ‘Key Competencies’ that are the basis of the New Zealand Curriculum.   

I look forward to sharing my learning with you in the next newsletter.

Jump Jam North Island Championships
This weekend our Jump Jammers will be competing in the North Island Championships.  After many months of practising they look awesome with their new haircuts and costumes and the final routines are polished.

We wish Kim, Gabby, Camella, and the Jump Jam students all the best

We have a very busy term ahead of us so please take note of the important dates within this newsletter and also on our school calendar. 

Nga mihi nui
Anna MacKinnon
Acting Principal

From The Principal 6 September 2018

Kia ora koutou katoa, Talofa Lava and Annyeong-haseyo to our whole school community.  A special welcome to Eli Murie and Leila Cafer who have recently joined our St Mary’s whanau.

International students

Last week I was very excited and privileged to be representing St Mary’s at the International Korean Fair in Seoul alongside approximately 25 other Tauranga educators.  I was promoting our city and our school as a high quality study destination and hope to recruit more Korean students to St Mary’s. St Mary’s is a school with a diverse cultural makeup which provides many benefits for our students, in particular this diversity helps our students understand and respect diverse viewpoints, values, customs, and languages.

There are, of course, many benefits for our International students also.  The acquisition of english language skills and the opportunity to learn in a very different educational setting that promotes learner agency are two of these benefits.  

I am looking forward to an opportunity to learn more about the Korean culture and to develop a greater understanding of how we can provide an inclusive experience for our international students.  

Newsletter online

We are very pleased to announce a trial of our newsletter as an online document.  This is one step that we can make towards taking care of our environment and streamlining the workload of our office administrators.  We will have a small amount of paper copies available in the office for those who prefer to read hard copies.  Our newsletter will be emailed and available on our website and official facebook page.  

Reciprocal visits

As a part of our Faith Based Kahui Ako (Community of Learning) it has been really great to continue our reciprocal visits between teachers at Aquinas, St Thomas More and St Mary’s.  The teachers visited each others school and classrooms to observe and then have discussion time to share the initiatives that they are implementing at each school.  This has been really instrumental in building relationships across our Catholic Community.  

Key Competencies

At St Mary’s we understand the importance of the Key Competencies.  Over the next term, through the newsletter, I will be looking more in depth at each key competency. So far I have covered ‘Managing Self’, ‘Relating to Others’ and ‘Participating and Contributing’.  This week I am focusing on ‘Using Language, Symbols and Texts’.  

The basis of this Key Competency is the development of literacy and numeracy skills.  “Students who are competent users of language, symbols, and texts can interpret and use words, number, images, movement, metaphor, and technologies in a range of contexts. They recognise how choices of language, symbol, or text affect people’s understanding and the ways in which they respond to communications. They confidently use ICT (including, where appropriate, assistive technologies) to access and provide information and to communicate with others.”  The New Zealand Curriculum - TKI Online

Safety of children

There have been concerns at other schools around Tauranga of students being approached by strangers.  There have not been any incidents of this happening at St Mary’s but we do recommend that you accompany your children each day rather than let them walk alone.  Here are safety tips issued by Tauranga Police to combat stranger danger:

- Walk with a dog or another person.

- If walking by yourself, choose busy times of the day.

- Avoid walking in dusk or when lighting was poor.

- Pause playing music in vulnerable areas to hear people walking up behind.


A reminder to parents, whanau and friends that it is not acceptable to park, or drive on the grass verges of neighbouring properties. Our neighbours have also complained of cars blocking their driveways.  Please be respectful to our neighbours  and do not park on verges or block driveways.  Your help with this would be much appreciated. 

Speech Finals

At St Mary’s School we recognise that oral language (both listening and speaking) is vital for students to be able to communicate effectively.  

This year in Tika, Maramatanga and Whakapono Teams we have used poetry as a basis to recite and read aloud. We talk about voice projection, good expression, modulation and pace. With the students we identify ‘what good listeners do’ and discuss eye contact and the use of body language. 

As the students progress through to Aroha Team, they are encouraged to take on more challenging types of public speaking.  All students in Aroha Team are supported to prepare and deliver a 3-5 minute formal speech around a topic of their choice. This process includes defining the purpose of the speech and constructing an effective introduction, body and sound conclusion. 

Original and thought-provoking ideas are encouraged. The judges used set criteria that are also used in the South Cluster Competition at the next level. This ensures consistency for all.

We are extremely proud of the standard of speeches this year.  Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists:

Tika Team

1st:  Abigail Albert

Finalists:  Alessandro Goodin and William Crowe.

Year 2

1st:  Madeline Mear and Junior Cup Winner

Finalists:  Nadya Broadbent, Sadie Frank and Elliot Olsen.

Year 3 

1st:  Maebh Manning

Finalists:  Matthew Rogers, Tommy Mason and Milli Banbury.

Year 4 

1st:  George Hopkins and Middle Cup Winner

Finalists:  Loimata Paaka, Ivy Barrett-Hodgson and Liae Yang.

Year 5

1st: Gia Dumbleton 

Finalists:  Alana Perrett, Yeva Parshikova, and Imogen Williamson.

Year 6

1st:  Nathan Holmberg and Senior Cup Winner

Finalists:  Briar Grace, Roman Rejthar and Finn Richards.

Good luck to Nathan Holmberg, Finn Richards, Alana Perrett and Gia Dumbleton who are representing St Mary’s at the South Cluster finals next week.

sin-ui chugbog (God bless)


Anna MacKinnon

Acting Principal

From The Principal 27 September 2018

Kia ora koutou katoa, Talofa Lava and Nimen hào to our whole school community.  This week is Chinese language week so a special time for our three students at St Mary’s who identify as Chinese.  I love this Chinese proverb that I came across this week, which epitomises the collaboration that we are striving to achieve at St Mary’s -


A special welcome to Liam Rhind, Sophia Ferdinando and Vivian Pham.  Eli Murie and Leila Cafer who have recently joined our St Mary’s whanau.

Open Day

We had a great turn out of parents and whanau at our open day last week.  It was awesome to see the children sharing their learning.  We will do this again next term! 


This week we sadly farewell Mr Bryan Crowe, who is moving to Korea with his family.  We thank Bryan for his contribution to our school and wish him and his family well for their future endeavours.  We are very lucky to have Louisa Strange and Christelle High joining our staff for Term 4.  Louisa will be starting our new New Entrant class in Room 3 and Christelle will be working in Whakpono Tahi in place of Bryan.  

Key Competencies

At St Mary’s we understand the importance of the Key Competencies.  This week I am focusing on the final Key Competency of ‘Thinking’.  

The Key Competency of thinking really weaves it’s way through all of the other Key Competencies.  Without thinking we couldn’t ‘Manage Self’, ‘Relate to Others’, ‘Participate and Contribute’ or ‘Use Language, Symbols and Texts’.   Having said that, we do need to focus solely on thinking to grow this competency. 

 At St Mary’s we are developing our students thinking skills by giving them opportunities to reflect, problem solve, ask questions and draw from the knowledge they already have.  

“Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to purposes such as developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency.”  TKI Online.

Now for a skite!  Recently we participated in the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA), conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Education.  This involved an external teacher working with a number of Year 4 students.  The study looked at children’s learning in mathematics and social studies.  Although we don’t get the results, we are extremely proud to say that all of the children that participated showed amazing thinking and collaboration skills.  I think that is a great testament to the teaching and learning here at St Mary’s.  

Learning Through Play

You may have noticed that I am very passionate about play!  Next term I will be focusing on play in the newsletters.  I will also be running a ‘play’ workshop for those of you who may want to know more about the importance of play and the research that supports this.  Watch this space for dates for this workshop.  

Newsletter online

We are very pleased to announce a trial of our newsletter as an online document.  This is one step that we can make towards taking care of our environment and streamlining the workload of our office administrators.  We will have a small amount of paper copies available in the office for those who prefer to read hard copies.  Our newsletter will be emailed and available on our website and official facebook page.

Summer Uniform

Just a reminder that we change to our summer uniform next term.  We move from wearing shoes and socks to wearing sandals.  The St Mary’s School hat is compulsory for the whole of Term 4.  There will be disignated play areas for children who do not come to school with a hat.

Music Scholarship

Thank you to everyone who applied for the Music Scholarship for guitar lessons in Term 4, 2018.  

Congratulations to Vani Panchal and Maddie Parry who will receive tutoring from Michael Nicholson. Thank you to Suzuki Bay of Plenty.  We are excited to be able to provide this opportunity and we are sure that both girls will really benefit from these lessons.  Look out for the Coding/Computer Scholarship notice coming home soon.

 We hope you have a safe and happy term break and look forward to an exciting final term of the year.  


Anna MacKinnon

Acting Principal

From The Principal 17 August 2018

Kia ora koutou katoa, Talofa Lava, Malo e lelei, Ni Hao, Anyoung haseyo, Magandang umaga, Konnichi wa, Guten tag, Bonjour, Ola, hello to our whole school community.  A special welcome to Jessica Radley and Isabelle Reeve who started in our new entrant class.

I can’t believe how fast this term is flying by already and when each fortnight comes around for me to write my piece I feel like I’ve only just finished the last one!

As I walk around the school and visit the classrooms it is so great to see the children so enthusiastic about practising their poems and speeches in preparation for presenting to their peers.  I’ve seen many of our Tika students showing innovation and  creativity with their costumes to support their poem.  We are all looking forward to the finals in Week 6.  


On Tuesday night I attended the PTA Annual General Meeting.  On behalf of the staff, students and the wider community I would like to thank the PTA for the awesome amount of effort they put in to supporting our school.  Listening to the annual reports from the Chairperson Ana MacFarlane and the Treasurer, Tracey Phizacklea it is quite impressive to hear just what has been accomplished over the last year.  The PTA is incremental in providing support physically for events e.g. Discos, Quiz Night, Adventure Day.  They also provide monetary support for those extra projects that may not be afforded otherwise, the Junior Sandpit is a great example.  Thank you to the PTA, we could not survive without your huge input.  

Industrial Action

Thank you to all of our parents for being so supportive and understanding when the teachers went on strike this Wednesday.  

We are hoping that our action sent a strong message to our government that we believe they are not valuing our profession or the importance of teachers.  The current offer on the table is not addressing the key issues of the teacher shortage, challenges teachers have in the classroom with workload, and the lack of funding for children with special needs. This is not just a claim for extra pay as has been reported in the media; it is a campaign for the changes we see as essential to providing the best education possible for your children.

Key Competencies

At St Mary’s we understand the importance of the Key Competencies.  Over the next term, through the newsletter, I will be looking more in depth at each key competency. So far I have covered Managing Self and Relating to Others.  This week I am focusing on ‘Participating and Contributing’. 

We want our children to be active participants.  This includes being involved in local communities like family, whanau, school, our Catholic Parish, sports groups and cultural groups.  This can spread much wider to being involved in national and global initiatives.  “This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.  Students who participate and contribute in communities have a sense of belonging and the confidence to participate within new contexts. They understand the importance of balancing rights, roles, and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of social, cultural, physical, and economic environments.” TKI Online

As teachers and parents we need to provide purposeful learning experiences that give our students opportunities for this involvement.  We need to give them experiences that develop their knowledge of what is possible and what it means to be a productive member of a community or group.

Have a great couple of weeks, no doubt Week 6 will be here before we know it!

Reminder about Absence and Lateness 

It is a concern for us that several students have high absences from school and many students arrive late to school on a regular basis.  Children who are not at school or are regularly late do not learn as easily or with the same rate of progress as other children. Staff, parents, children and the community have responsibilities in this area.  Ayn Harris and I will be contacting parents early next term if we are concerned about your child’s absence or lateness.  

Children are considered to have unsatisfactory attendance at school over the course of the year if they miss 16 days of school or 8% of their time at school. This means that if a child has had 4 days off school in a term the school is concerned.  

It is interesting and alarming to note that 10% of a child’s time at our school (Year 1 – Year 6) is 32 weeks (3 terms), and 20% is 64 weeks (6 terms).  

“If students experienced more than a day between one opportunity to interact with a new idea and a subsequent opportunity to interact with the new idea, then forgetting occurred and instructional opportunity was wasted” 

(Alton-Lee, 2003, p.50). 

Fa’amanuia le Atua (God bless)

Anna MacKinnon

Acting Principal