From the Principal 21 June 2018

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

Thank you to those that attended our Parish / School Mass on the 10th June.  Usually the children are hidden in amongst the adults but when Fr Mark asked them to come forward it was wonderful to see such a great turn out.  

Following the Mass, we had a working bee down at the Junior playground.  The results from all the hard work are quite obvious.  The sand pit is such an attraction to children of all ages and will be an amazing resource for years to come.  

Prayers for the Moncrieff Family
On Monday we heard the sad news that Vanessa Moncreiff’s father passed away. Vanessa is a pupil in Whanau Driver, Maramatanga and came to St Mary’s at the beginning of this year. Sharon, Vanessa’s mother and the rest of the family would appreciate your prayers for the repose of Rob’s soul, and for comfort for the family at this time

Professional Learning and Development
Our last newsletter focused on two areas of focus for our staff professional development: Learner Agency and Tikanga Maori.  

As teachers and leaders at St Mary’s we recognise the need to be continually growing our own practice.  This week I will share two further areas of focus - Teaching as Inquiry and Coaching.  

As teachers we use a Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) cycle as a part of our everyday practice to reflect on the effect we are making.  We are continually reflecting on what we are doing, why we are doing it and what is making the difference to student learning.  TAI is professional learning that never stops.  The dialogue between colleagues regarding our reflections are invaluable.  

“Since any teaching strategy works differently in different contexts for different students, effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students.”

The New Zealand Curriculum, p.35

Our Leadership Team have been attending a coaching course delivered by Andrea Ford from Clarity Education.  This course has given our leaders extra skills, for their conversations with adults, around the teaching and learning within our school.   

“Coaching is potentially one of the most powerful professional learning strategies we can use to:

  • improve the quality of teaching practice for improved student learning and achievement
  • support transformational growth and foster self-responsibility in adults
  • build teacher leadership and the collective capacity of a school or educational workplace to function as a high-performing professional learning community.” 

Clarity Education  

Key Competencies

There are five Key Competencies identified in the NZC: Thinking; Using language, symbols and texts; Managing self; Relating to others; Participating and Contributing.  

At St Mary’s we have developed rubrics to show progress of these competencies throughout the student’s journey at school.  Progress in the Key Competencies is now being tracked for all students at St Mary’s. 

Education AmbassadorYou may have spotted Ajay Mua, a BOP Steamers rugby player, down in Whakapono team over the last few weeks.  We are very lucky to have AJ with us until the end of this term.  With a call for more male mentors to be in schools the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union have partnered with Key Skills Recruitment to deliver an Education Ambassadors Programme.  Ajay has been a wonderful mentor and role model for all of our students.  

A reminder to follow our official Facebook page if you haven’t already, it has got some great posts and positive feedback from our community. 

Thank you for your continued support and I hope you have a great two weeks until the end of term.   

Fa’amanuia le Atua (God bless)


Anna MacKinnon
Acting Principal

From the Principal 17 May 2018

Tena koutou katoa, 

A warm welcome to everyone in our school community.  

Following on from our last newsletter, where students shared their mihi, I would like to start this newsletter with my short mihi or introduction, for those of you who don’t know me.  

Our School Production
It is hard to believe that 3 weeks of the term have already passed.  Our students and teachers have been working hard with Patrice (Gobsmacked) to ensure that we are ready for the ‘Mad Pearse Takes Flight’ production.  The first show is on Wednesday 30th May with tickets now on sale.  Information on how to book these can be found within this newsletter.  

A warm welcome to our new students...
Isla Yeatman, Madeleine Askin and Edwina Brobin. 

Bully Free Week
As I write this, we are in the midst of New Zealand Bully Free Week.  I would like to think that at St Mary’s it is always Bully Free Week, we try extremely hard to make it this way.  Please see our fortnightly ‘snapshot’ for how we use Positive Behaviour For Learning (PB4L) to reinforce amazing behaviour within our school.  

New Families Liturgy
Last week we had our termly ‘New Families’ Liturgy.  Thank you to Mrs Rush who organised this lovely liturgy and to Fr Mark for being with us to celebrate our new families. Photos are on our Facebook page.

This liturgy is special and is a favourite of mine.  I particularly love the opening songs ‘Welcome’ and ‘He Honore’.  

The words in He Honore translate to “let there be peace on earth and tranquility and goodwill to all people”.  For all our new students, parents and whanau, we hope you feel that you belong here already. 

Some students will have already received a written report this term.  For others, their first report will be rolled out between now and August.  Once the report has been received you will have the opportunity to book a conference to discuss your child’s learning, between yourself, your child and their whanau teacher.  The ‘Reporting Information Sessions’ that I presented over the last couple of weeks proved to be very successful.  For anyone who missed these, more information can be found on our website under the ‘Learning’ tab.

Learning Through Play and PTA Working Bee
Many of you may have heard of Nathan Mikaere-Wallis.  He is a gifted educator and has been a lecturer at Canterbury University, a neuroscience presenter for Brainwave and a child protection trainer.

Nathan advocates the importance for children to develop positive dispositions towards their learning and their culture, and to develop their creative and thinking skills.  

It is 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.  It also verifies the importance of the ‘Key Competencies’ that are the basis of the New Zealand Curriculum. 

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

As a commitment to providing further learning through play at our school we will be upgrading the Junior Play area to include a sand pit.  We would love you to join us for a Working Bee on Sunday 10th June at 12 noon, after our school mass.

Anna MacKinnon
Acting Principal

From the Principal 28 March 2018

Tena Koutou Katoa

Welcome to Holy Week.  This week is of course an extremely significant one for our Catholic School.  Holy Week is of course when we follow the last week of Jesus’ life on earth with us and anticipate his resurrection.  However, the lead up to Easter Friday is a solemn one and we hope to reflect this through the daily liturgy and final stations of the cross on Thursday.  It has been great to see the children of several classes involved in the organisation and performance of key liturgy.

A warm welcome to our new students....
Tara Lock, Sumatra Mark and Spencer McIntosh.

Thank you to the PTA for the Outdoor Adventure Day
I am going to throw it out there and suggest that the PTA Outdoor Adventure Day of 2018 would be one of the best yet.  Looking around, watching kids and talking to parents it was clear that the objective of this day was clearly achieved.  A fun event for our children and our community.  It was great to see a full field in the parent and teachers race.  For those of you who were there you would of noted that I was not very close to the front of the field but probably glad I wasn’t given the injuries suffered by the front runners.

Our new Facebook page
We had some issues with our school facebook page earlier in the year but now have it up and running and bullet proof.  I would encourage all to follow the great things that happen at St Mary’s and keep informed through the link below.

Lateness and Absence
We have concerns about frequent lateness and absence of some students at St Mary’s.

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. 10% of a child’s time at our school (Year 1 – Year 8) is 32 weeks (3 terms), and 20% is 64 weeks (6 terms) Children who are not at school 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.

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)

Children’s lunches and rubbish
As a parent I know the challenges in trying to ensure children have a good lunch to eat during the school day.  This of course involves packing and wrapping food items.  As you know in an effort to reduce our landfill rubbish as a school we ask that all food related rubbish is taken home.  It is great in theory!  Unfortunately we are finding a lot of zip lock plastic bags around our school site.  If there is an alternative or a way that we can eliminate packaging all together I would encourage you to explore it.

Ben Fuller

From the Principal 2 May 2018

Kia ora koutou katoa, Talofa Lava, Malo e lelei, Ni Hao, Anyoung haseyo, Magandang umaga, Konnichi wa, Guten tag, Bonjour, Ola, hello and welcome back to Term 2.  We hope you had a relaxing break and enjoyed spending the extra time with your children. 

Last term our learning was focused on the theme of ‘Diversity and Globalisation’.  It is wonderful to see and celebrate the diversity within our school, and if you had a chance to see the map in the foyer last term you would be aware that we are a very diverse community in terms of our whakapapa.  There are three nationwide events this term that will celebrate our diversity - New Zealand Sign Language Week (Week 2), Samoa Language Week (Week 5) and Matariki (Week 7+).  We will be celebrating these within our classes and / or through Liturgy and Assembly.  

A warm welcome to our new students...
Abigail Albert, Seoyeon Choi, Maverick Damasco, Cassidy Dobbs, Paige Eastergaard, Maxwell Hirst, Arthur Inglis, Gabriel Lewis, Luke Swanson and Lucija Walker. 

We look forward to welcoming all new students at our New Families Liturgy on Tuesday 8th May at 10am.  

Term Two Learning
The term ahead is looking extremely full and exciting and I am looking forward to the opportunity and challenge of being Acting Principal for the next 2 ½ terms whilst Ben Fuller is on study leave.  

All students and teachers will be busy practising their songs and dances for our Gobsmacked production ‘Mad Pearse Takes Flight’ which will be performed at Bethlehem College Performing Arts Centre at the end of May.  

Our school production fits in perfectly with our learning this term which is focused on two main themes:

1: Innovation and Enterprise, related to Richard Pearse and flight (through technology and the Arts)

2: Our Catholic Values and the Key Competencies.  The production will be used as a source to  teach and reinforce our Catholic values and how we treat people.  The show provides many learning opportunities in relation to the challenges that Richard Pearse faced in his life and how he overcame this adversity. 

We have two events that will further support our learning in these areas this term:  Bully Free Week (Week 3) and Life Education Trust (Week 5 - 7).  

Our School Values
Our school values of Trust (Tika), Mercy (Maramatanga), Faith (Whakapono) and Love (Aroha) underlay all we do at St Mary’s School.  Our newsletters this term will include fortnightly ‘snapshots’ of how we use ‘Positive Behaviour For Learning’ (PB4L) to support our values and our behaviour expectations.  We will use this opportunity to promote the positive things we are doing as a school to reinforce great behaviour.  We believe that staff and students come to school every day to give their best and be the very best they can be. 

Our new way of reporting starts rolling out this term and all students who are at St Mary’s for a full year, will receive two reports.  The first students to receive their reports this term will be those who have their school start anniversary or interim (halfway between) in March, April and May.  

These reports have seen input from many.  The report is student driven and shares your child’s current strengths and next steps.  There is a strong focus on our Catholic Character and the Key Competencies.  The focus has shifted away from placing your child according to the National Standard and we aim to celebrate the progress that your child is making in Reading, Writing and Mathematics and the attitude that they bring to each of these curriculum areas.  

I will be holding 20 minute ‘Reporting Information Sessions’ in the staffroom over the next couple of weeks.  Please check the calendar within this newsletter for dates and times.  

End of School Day
The safety of our students is of utmost importance and children left at school to wait for parents are a concern.  A duty teacher will roam the school at 3:10pm and collect all students who are not being supervised by an adult.  They will be sent to the office to wait for their ride home, so please pick them up from there.  If your child is still here by 3.30pm you will need to consider enrolling them in the After School Care service held at school. Please contact the school office or phone Shelley the After School Care Coordinator on 0273102090 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Our new Facebook page
Please join our page if you haven’t done so already.  We encourage you all to follow the great things that are happening at St Mary’s and keep informed through this  link:

We look forward to a successful term ahead, with lots of learning across the curriculum.  Thank you for your continued support.

Nga mihi nui

Anna MacKinnon
Acting Principal


From the Principal 9 March 2018

Tena Koutou Katoa

A special welcome to Soul Clarkin, Austin Day and Olivia Woodhouse who have joined our St Mary’s Whanau recently. Also welcome to Autumn I guess, although the temperature definitely does not feel like winter is on the way.  I suggest we make the most of it and keep the kids swimming for as long as possible.  Hopefully your child has settled well into their learning journey for 2018.  A reminder if you have any concerns your child’s teacher (whanau) should be the first point of contact.

Congratulations Sister Gabrielle
Sister Gabrielle celebrates 70 years of religious profession as a Cluny Sister this weekend. We wish her all the best on her special day. God Bless you Sister Gabrielle. 

Father Mark 10 Years as a Priest
This week I had the opportunity to take a delegation of students along with Teresa Rush to a small celebration of Father Mark’s time as a Priest.  It is 10 years since Father took his vows and I am sure you will all agree we are lucky to have him as our Parish Priest.  

Congratulations Father and thank you for the guidance and leadership you provide within our Parish.

Learning Interviews
It was great to see the majority of parents join in conversation with their child’s whanau teacher as we seek to know more about the children we teach.  The sharing of learning relevant information and involvement of parents and caregivers in the learning process is something that we are focusing on this year.  Our objective, “bring parents into the real conversation”, the actual learning that happens on a daily basis.  It is a challenge but hopefully by utilising our online environment and connecting all stakeholders with that which is current it can be achieved.

School Parish Mass / School Mass
This Sunday at 10.30am we will celebrate our first Parish School Mass of 2018 at St Mary Immaculate.  As always we welcome parents and whanau to help us celebrate this occasion.  Children should be dressed in their school uniform.

Following later in the week, our first school Mass will be held on Friday 16 March, again at St Mary Immaculate Church. On this day we celebrate the feast day of St Joseph.  Again we welcome Parents, Whanau and Family of our school to share in this celebration.

PTA Outdoor Adventure Day
Once again our PTA will be holding a great day of fun for our children.  Our Outdoor Adventure Day will follow our School Mass on Friday 16 March.  I know the true success of this day is dependent on the number of volunteers we get along to assist with activities.  Our PTA do a great job putting this event on for our kids each year and would welcome your support.  

Gobsmacked Productions Presents - ‘Mad Pearce takes Flight’
It is that time again, St Mary’s moves into production season with auditions occurring today.  With memories of ‘Trek to the Top’ still firmly in our children’s minds I am sure Term 2 will be a wave of excitement as we progress to being on stage once again.  

Principal Study Leave
As I communicated late last year I have been lucky enough to receive a study award in order to complete my Masters of Educational Leadership.  I thank all who have wished me well to date, however,  I am still here until the end of this term and will take leave from the beginning of term two.  In the time between then and now leadership will be handed over to Anna MacKinnon who will act as Principal in my absence.

Ben Fuller