Board of Trustee Elections 2019

What do we need in a Parent Trustee?

We are looking for Trustees who are focused on
    ·  ongoing improvement in student achievement,
    ·  growing and nurturing our special character and relationship with our Parish, priests and Cluny Sisters, and
    ·  supporting professional leadership, teaching and learning within our school. 

Is this you?

We encourage you to Step Forward for your School.

Watch out for our call for nominations soon!

From the Principal 22 March 2019

Tena Koutou Katoa - Haere mai Nau mai haere mai
We are continuing through a busy and dynamic term at St Mary’s, with some exciting learning and events continuing to bring reward to students, teachers and parents alike.  Last week was again filled with examples such as these, which made our school such a contrast to the terror, devastation and loss experienced by some of our fellow New Zealanders last Friday afternoon.  I am sure like all, we are shocked, angry and deeply saddened to think such an event could happen in our country.  As a school we gathered on Monday morning in prayer to remember those affected by this tragic event.  The key message was one of love and peace, remembering that this is the message from within our Gospels.
Outdoor Adventure Day
My thanks goes to the PTA and the leadership of Mel Gash for another great day of fun in the form of our Outdoor Adventure Day.  This day is not just about kids, even some of the adults had a fun lap of a creatively designed course.  It is a day of community.  This starts with our connection to our houses through the colourful and creative demonstration of house pride, and continues with the many activities that bring us together on this day.  It is a great part of our Term One calendar and one that I again thank the PTA for.
Early drop offs and Late Pick ups
Lately we have been having to assist a number of children whose parents are often late to pick them up from school.  This is both distressing for children and for staff who are placed in the position of having to ascertain after school arrangements.  The first point I would like to make is that school concludes at 2.55pm and if you intend picking your child up after school, this is the time that parents should be here to do so.  Secondly, it is not safe to suggest that children play in the playground until parents arrive.  Our playgrounds are busy with parents and children immediately after school, meaning those children in need of supervision are hard to identify. 
Should you be running late or have misjudged traffic on the odd occasion, please contact the school so that we can instruct children to wait in the office for you to arrive.  However, if your circumstances mean you are unable to pick up your child at 3pm on a regular basis, we have an after school care service that provides a safe environment for children after school.  Enquire at the school office should you need to access this service.
Board of Trustee Elections 2019
This is a further notification that 2019 is an election year for Board of Trustee parent representatives.  In the coming weeks, information will start to be circulated in regard to becoming a parent trustee and the election process.  I have been lucky as Principal to work with some great parent trustees who have had the genuine best interests of our school community at heart.  I therefore encourage anyone who would like to know more, or is currently interested in standing as a parent representative on our Board of Trustees to look out for upcoming information.
Traffic Safety
The safety of our students is paramount. We therefore request that all parents take due care and diligence in respect to driving and parking around our school.  The best place during summer months to drop off and collect children is our Harvey Street boundary.  If this is not possible please remember that no child should be left to cross roads by themselves after being dropped at school.
On another note, our bus bay is a no parking zone from 8am - 9am and 3pm - 3.30pm.  We have been advised by our bus drivers that this is a current concern.
St Mary’s Facebook Page (
We still do the majority of our communication through email and will continue to do so, but will also ensure the same communication is given through our FB Page.  I am aware that the majority of our community is among our 500 followers but for new parents or those still new to the social media game the link is above.
Nga mihi nui
Ben Fuller

NZEI Meeting postponed

In the wake of the appalling events in Christchurch on Friday 15th March, the National Executive of NZEI Te Riu Roa has made the decision to postpone the paid union meetings for teachers and principals that were scheduled for this week of 18-22 March.
Paul Goulter
National Secretary

From The Principal 2 March 2019

Tena Koutou Katoa - Haere mai Nau mai haere mai

We continue the great start to our school year.  On Tuesday we welcomed 44 new students and their families to our St Mary’s Whanau.  Our welcome liturgy is always a great event as it warmly signals a start to a journey of growth, development and partnership for children and their families.  My thanks to those parents from with our PTA and community who catered an amazing morning tea for all present.  My thanks also to Father Mark for the meaningful blessing he bestowed on our new students.  At the same liturgy we welcomed Mr Anthony Mills and Miss Emma Washer to our leadership and teaching team.

IT in Schools
I am sure many of you watched the recent piece on Sunday regarding the use of digital technology in schools.  I remember the push for schools to reach the desired 1:1 ratio of devices to students.  Many did it in differing ways including BYOD.  We were always cautious of flooding our school with technology and so staged the approach, ensuring we selected devices carefully, towards 1:1 in our senior school and 1:2 across the remainder of the school in 2016.  

Since this time we have also been focused on the growing body of research that highlights the need for developmental learning opportunities aligned with stages of physical and cognitive development.  Nathan Mikaere Wallis who is a world leader in this field is someone whose research we have examined.  It was great to see his perspective also portrayed on Sunday.  Reflecting on and evaluating such views and research has encouraged us to seek a balance in the implementation of digital technology across our school.  

The resulting approach has been to actually redefine the use of digital devices in our junior school.  Now focusing on the use of iPads to capture evidence and examples of learning that can be shared online and through our reporting processes.  This has also meant a reduced number of devices in year 1 and 2.  The balance therefore, an emphasis on developmental growth for learning as per Nathan Wallis’ view of aligning learning experiences to stages as opposed to ages of learning.  Ratios still grow towards that 1:1 ratio we experience in our senior school but with the focus being on the device as a tool of learning.

It would be fair to say that there is still a need for a developmental balance within all areas of our school.  I would be the first to say that we need to look at the amount of screen time our children experience.  We have redesigned our curriculum to address this which will see more ambition apparent, particularly in senior learning experiences.  You will see examples of this through more open ended student inquiry projects and use of our immediate environment.  

Going back to the Sunday exclusive, many of you may have been taken by the Silicon Valley (paperless) Junior High School.  What was not shared in relation to Silicon Valley schools was the highly developmental programmes, often completely device free, that are a signature of their primary schools.  All food for thought!

In my last newsletter I spoke of some teething problems associated with recent changes to our city bus routes and city provider. I would now suggest teething problems is an inaccurate statement particularly given the continuing threats to child safety.  Previously I offered to work with Bay of Plenty Regional Council Transport Operations Officer to ensure current issues are resolved and the efficient service we all hope for is gained in the near future.  Unfortunately this was not accepted and so I am now in the same space as other bus users, a frustrated stakeholder.  I therefore again ask that  if you have any issues with the bus service, especially if student safety is compromised, get in contact with either myself or Theresa in our office.  Alternatively contact the council bus team directly.

Property Developments
The new turf is all but installed.  I am really looking forward to this as it will provide a great surface for all hard court activities.  I would like to thank both our PTA and the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton on behalf of you all for their financial support.  Look out later in the year for new mobile goal posts, tennis nets and basketball backboards to complement the court surface.  Again thanks to the generous support of our PTA.

TECT Grant
Possibly a little ironic given my previous words regarding digital devices but I can celebrate with and inform you all of our success in gaining a TECT grant of $25,000.  This will be spent in the digital device area but to replace aging and broken devices and screens which are currently being rationalised.  We will also add a few specialised items to the IT suit such as a drone and specialist video editing suit.  A big thanks to TECT!

St Mary’s Facebook Page

We still do the majority of our communication through email and will continue to do so but will also ensure the same communication is given through our FB Page.  I am aware that the majority of our community is among our 500 followers for but new parents or those still new to the social media game the link is above.

Fia Fia Fundraiser
St Mary’s School is planning a missionary trip to Samoa in October 2019. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help with travel costs for the children and to supply the two major Catholic Schools in Apia with much needed sports equipment and uniforms.Enjoy an evening of traditional Samoan fun, food and entertainment!  So please invite your friends and come along to support this worthy cause.  Tickets cover your dinner and live entertainment.

Summer Weather
The great weather continues for us in the Bay of Plenty, however March signals autumn and an expected drop in temperatures.  For this reason I ask that all students now transition back into our school uniform and save the PE gear for when it is needed.  Letting our children wear their PE gear was a great initiative and one that we will look to utilise again should need dictate.

Cluny Foundation
Last year our Cluny Foundation helped a number of children and families within our community in a number of ways, including financial assistance for extra curricula activities both at school and in our community. If you know of anyone who would benefit from assistance please refer them to one of our trustees or call in at our school office.

Ben Fuller 

From The Principal 8 February 2019

Tena Koutou Katoa - Haere mai Nau mai haere mai

Greetings and welcome to our new school year.

To all returning families it is great to see you and your children back at St Mary’s in 2019.  To those new to our community you and your children are now on a journey with us and I therefore give my absolute best wishes and commitment to ensuring your time at St Mary’s is beneficial and prosperous for you and your children.  To ensure this happens I encourage you to be active within our community, support where able and get involved in as many of our community and school based activities as possible or able.  

I have been impressed with the start our teachers and students have made to our new school year.  It is great to see the enthusiasm of teachers transpire into engagement of learning within the classroom environment.  Please keep in touch with your child’s teacher with any questions and please connect with your children regularly in regard to the learning experiences they are benefitting from.

Ra Whanau Mai
Starting the year coming together, meeting your child’s teacher, being able to talk about strengths and ambitions of and for your child has helped make for the positive start we have all experienced.  The objectives of the day were to give your child the best possible start as a learner and to provide opportunity to come together as a community.  The weather definitely played its part meaning the pool was well utilised; Mr Veitch, Mrs Harris and I dished up about 300 sausages and the coffee cart had plenty of customers.  It definitely made for a calm start to our formal instruction on Tuesday, especially for new students who had already met their teacher and knew where their classroom was.  

As always we are interested to see know if we met the above objectives in our communities eyes so invite you to provide comments through this link  

Also check out pictures from the day on our FB page.

Summer Weather
As I communicated early heat is a factor in Tauranga this time of year and will therefore implement the following during February.

Children who have one can wear their physical education uniform. This is black shorts and the green St Mary’s PE T Shirt. Both items are available from NZ Uniforms.  

Year 1 students (rooms 1-5) unfortunately occupy older classrooms that are not well equipped when it comes to ventilation. Those year 1 parents who may be concerned that the afternoons will get to hot for their children are welcome to collect them at lunch time on extremely hot days. This will be an individual parent decision with those children remaining cared for within their classrooms.

Sunblock, all classrooms are equipped with sun block and children are encouraged to self manage the application of this. If your child is more susceptible to the effects of the sun please ensure you apply sunscreen before you drop them to school.

Hydration, most important and can be easily achieved with access to a water bottle during the day.

School Buses
I am as aware as many are of some of the teething problems currently being experienced as a result of our recent change of bus routes and city provider.  I take child safety seriously and so have offered to work with Bay of Plenty Regional Council Transport Operations Officer to ensure current issues are resolved and the efficient service we all hope for is gained in the near future.  Please if you have any issues with the bus service, especially if student safety is compromised, get in contact with either myself or Theresa in our office.

We still do the majority of our communication through email and will continue to do so but will also ensure the same communication is given through our FB page.  I am aware that the majority of our community is among our 500 followers, but for new parents or those still new to the social media game the link is below.

St Mary’s Facebook Page

St Mary’s Website

School App
Download our app for free on iPhone or Android.  Search ‘St Mary’s Catholic School’ in the app store or use this link  The app is used to send reminder alerts, it has the complete school calendar, notices, the school newsletter and all staff email addresses. You can also use it to text in school absentee messages.

Nga mihi nui

Ben Fuller


Rā Whānau Mai Monday 4 February 2019

Kia Ora Whānau,

School will reopen for formal instruction on Tuesday 5th February. Monday 4th February St Mary’s will be open for Rā Whānau Mai (Family Welcome Day). This is a family open day and is a great opportunity for you, as parents and whānau, to share your expectations, your child’s interests, strengths, and learning needs and the knowledge you value directly with your child’s teacher.
To book your interview with your child’s whanau teacher for 2019 please go to and use the event code kgwem.  Don't forget to help yourself to a free coffee, and later on in the morning a free sausage sizzle.

We are hoping for full attendance at these important meetings. These interviews will replace our Meet the teacher event that is usually held within the first 2 weeks of Term 1. We wish you all a safe holiday and a very Happy New Year.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are unsure which class your child is in for 2019.

Special Character 15 November 2018

This term our focus is on the Sacrament Strand- Aroha team, year 5 and 6.


Confirmed in the Spirit
There are times in people’s lives when they are in need of healing in body and soul. 

The Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the sick bring people the grace of reconciliation, healing and peace. Each Sacrament gives to people its own special grace or gift from God and makes God present in a special way. 

All of the Sacraments make Jesus present because they bring new life, tapu and mana, healing and strength and peace to people. Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are the Sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church. Through these Sacraments people commit themselves to live as full members of the Church involved in the Church’s mission, prayer and celebrations. 

Through the rite, rituals and symbols of the Sacrament of Confirmation confer the full gifts of the Holy Spirit and increase the grace of baptism to enable people to spread the gospel of Jesus. The rituals and symbols of the Sacrament can be seen but they have a deeper meaning that cannot be seen. In celebrating the Eucharist the community celebrates the sacrifice or gift of Jesus’ life to God on the cross

November - Month of the Holy Souls
During November we pray especially for our loved ones who have passed away. Father Mark has encouraged all students to be able to recite the following prayer. Please use it at home and pray together as a family for those you love who have died.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon them. 
May they rest in peace.

Students from Aroha Team after All Souls Mass went to the cemetery where they prayed for the Cluny Sisters who have died.  

Whakapono team led the school in liturgy on Monday and the focus was on Parihaka. Students learnt how following the bible Te Whiti and Tohu encouraged violence to be met with peace.

In the late 19th century, under the leadership of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, Parihaka became a place of non-violent resistance to the confiscation of land. The small village on the western slopes of Taranaki continues to be a place of gathering to discuss issues of the day, and look for a collective response to injustice. 

Catholic Social teaching
Violence has no place in a just society. The Catholic Church teaches that true peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation. As part of this process, Catholic social teaching asks us to acknowledge past wrongs as a means to reconciling our past and its shortcomings on our way to building a better future.  Te Whiti and Tohu recognised that there must be a better way to fight the injustices that they were faced with. They chose to lead their people in non-violent resistance. They ploughed fields in order to be heard. Te Whiti and Tohu chose not to physically fight eviction and arrest.  Peaceful intentions were at the forefront of their resistance, as was the building of a community committed to finding a way to live together.Caritas Parihaka resource. 


Teresa Rush

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