New principal brings strong skills to Matahui

Katikati Advertiser
24 Jan 2019


New principal Mary Woods with husband Jim, daughters Patricia and Catherine and three grandchildren.

Matahui School welcomes Mary Woods as its new principal in 2019 after a community farewell to principal Max Muller in December.

Mary brings a strong skillset and vast experience to the school in science, Future Problem Solving, IT and mindfulness. Her substantial knowledge of student diversity, curriculum experience and inquiry is expected to add value to a successful learning environment for children ranging from Years 1 to 8.

Mary is married to Jim and they have two daughters — Patricia and Catherine, and three grandchildren — Phoebe, Arley and Zoe. Mary and Jim have recently moved from Tauranga to Pahoia and are looking forward to settling into the community.

Students at Matahui have a diverse range of backgrounds, strengths and learning styles. The school’s philosophy of providing a solid learning environment that allows all children to foster creativity, critical thinking and leadership, is what initially drew Mary to the school.

Children at Matahui are encouraged and supported to collaborate with each other during a range of activities during class time, while enjoying ‘education outside of the classroom’.

Education outside of the classroom is one of the driving characters of the school where students work collaboratively while being challenged to reach their personal potential. Learning through play classes enjoy frequent camps and field trips, and involvement in various community activities and the school has a native bush area, fondly known as ‘The Huts’.

School starts at Matahui on Tuesday, January 29.


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At Matahui School we regard our relationship with parents and caregivers as a partnership. Communicating with them is important, hence the conversations we have with them and the report we write about the progress their children are making as learners are significant, but the most powerful form of reporting we undertake at the school is our end of year Student-Led Conferences.

The Student-Led Conference is a formal method of reporting where the students have the opportunity to discuss, present and demonstrate their understanding of what they have learned throughout the year, sharing the progress they have made with their family.

“Enabling” students so that we give them ownership and a genuine sense of responsibility for their learning so that they can discuss their work, reflect on and review their goals, and share their progress with their parents/caregivers is highly effective in giving the students a “voice.”

The student’s role becomes one of a leader/facilitator and throughout all stages of a Student-Led Conference, preparation, implementation and evaluation, the student is the key person.

Through involving and engaging parents/caregivers directly in how the students at Matahui School approach learning for understanding, the Student-Led Conference becomes an ideal opportunity to celebrate a child’s achievements as they present their learning portfolios.

The portfolios (which look different at each Year level), produced by the students, provide them with an opportunity to; identify strengths and learning challenges; demonstrate skills; discuss key and significant ideas and concepts; develop tasks for adults to undertake during the conference; collect evidence over time to illustrate progress during their learning journey; demonstrate self-reflection/self-assessment; verbalise why they have chosen to showcase specific pieces in their collection; and where appropriate, demonstrate what they have learned.

Our parents and caregivers truly become partners in learning when the students lead a conference. When students have a meaningful audience in addition to the classroom teacher, their learning takes on increased importance and relevance.

Listening to the child’s voice as they retrace their educational journey becomes much more meaningful and memorable than the words drafted in a written report. For us at Matahui School these conferences are the highlight of the academic year.


Parents are genuinely interested in what and how their children learn at school. In the past two weeks at Matahui School parents/caregivers have been invited to visit and observe the students learning during an Open Day. We have also had two camps, one for the students in Room 3 and the other, for all our Room 5 and 6 students. In both instances parents have been actively and directly involved in supporting our curriculum and student learning within very specific outdoor learning environments.

However,  learning outside the classroom takes yet another form and one that is incredibly exciting. It occurs when what is being focused upon in the context of the classroom environment spills out into the playground. Two examples follow.

During our bicycle safety programme the students used all the knowledge (both practical and theoretical), and skills they were presented in class to create their own off-road cycle track which they designed, built and managed with remarkable success.

As part of a recent science investigation Room 3 students developed marble runs whereby they needed to think about all factors that would affect the distance a marble could roll – the goal being to see who could get a marble to roll the furthest. Well, this experiment that also involved a high degree of mathematical understanding, morphed into playground play.




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What a success!


There are many notions that people subscribe to when it comes to defining success. What does it mean to be successful? The following definition is one that James Anderson1 suggests is commonly accepted by most people – “success is achieving a goal that requires effort.” His point is that, irrespective of what you aim to accomplish, if you set a goal that is not easily achieved, if you have to work hard to get there and you achieve the goal, then you are successful.


Over the past week we have been treated to numerous examples of success at Matahui School in various spheres of learning .


Rose and Caitlin’s netball team placed second in their division – a huge accomplishment. Harry Chissell’s under 11 Te Puna rugby team won the Western Bay competition and will go on to represent this area against Eastern Bay. Harry’s contribution to the team was recognized by him being awarded the “most improved player” for the season. Our basketball teams, though still relatively inexperienced are consistently winning games against taller, skillful teams. Our Year 6 WBEET Bay Mathematics quiz team, Jay, Kayla and Rory were placed a creditable third in the team challenge and fifth overall from approximately forty teams. In the Tall Poppy Mathematics problem solving competition our Year 8 team comprised of Jessica, Ben and Libby, came first and our Year 7 team, Ruby, Olympia and Ella placed first equal in their section. Kayla was placed second in Year 6 North Cluster speech finals and Rory was awarded a Highly Commended in the Year 5 competition. Ruby and her father Dave, both avid writers, will have their poetry published in the 2014 NZPS anthology titled “photo of great granddad.”  Kate Bruning’s book, “Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon” was recently published and since going “public”, has been enthusiastically received by children and adults alike.


Yes – incredible measures of success. In every instance, the goals that were set in the diverse range of successes listed above, were not easy to achieve. They required substantial effort, focus, skill and commitment and certainly provide reason to celebrate what makes this learning community special. Perhaps we should finish with a final quote from Winston Churchill.


“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”2


  1. Author of Succeeding with Habits of Mind and founder of the Habits of Mind Teachers Network



Rugby Success for Year Seven Matahui Student

posted in: Class Blogs, Kauri yrs 7,8 | 0


Harry Chissell (photographed above) from Room 6 at Matahui School celebrated success with his Te Puna under 11 rugby team over the weekend. They beat Papamoa Blue in the Western Bay of Plenty Championship. Harry said “They scored the first try but then we struck back by kicking deep into their half. From there we scored and we went on to win 36-7.” At a prize-giving last weekend Harry was also awarded ‘Most Improved Player’ for the season.

“Next we play the winners of the Eastern Bay and it should be a hard game.” said Harry as he looks toward his next challenge.

Matahui School Tall Poppies Win Problem Solving Cup


 Matahui Year Eight Mathematicians Ben Robertson, Jessica Dallas and Libby Silson (pictured above) won the Tall Poppies Problem solving cup this week. The event is always very competitive and this year was no different. The Year Eight team never surrendered an early lead and consequently held off all challengers. The Year Seven team of Olympia Magnussen, Ruby Robertson and Ella Gordon-Scapens also competed extremely well and tied for first place in the Year Seven competition. Congratulations to both teams!!!



The two teams enjoy their wonderful achievements.


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“…Teaching that Sticks…” Over the next few weeks I would like to share with you some key perspectives
around learning at Matahui and to begin with want to impart some perspectives raised by Chip and Dan
Heath in an article they wrote titled, “Teaching that Sticks.”1
They suggest that every day we are presented
with ideas, but “sticky ideas” are ideas that are understood, remembered and may change aspects of our lives
such as how we form opinions, alter our behaviour or perhaps encourage us to reflect on what we value.
As teachers and parents we want ideas to stick but why is it that some ideas seem to stick more effortlessly
than others? Some ideas seem absurd, ludicrous – “dumb.” But they stick. Chances are they don’t have any
tangible resource behind them – they are just naturally “sticky.” Can you recall an inane joke, urban legend,
a conspiracy theory, the essence of a fad diet, a scientific theory or the rudiments of how a combustion
engine works? Some of these ideas may be ridiculous, some insightful – but the fact is they all stick.
One way we aim to help make ideas stick is by utilizing resources outside the classroom. Undertaking a field
trip can be an “activator” that helps ideas stick. Equally, if used near the end of a unit, it can reinforce key
concepts or provide a direct connection to what has previously been learned in class, especially as the
experience the students are exposed to presents them with visual, tangible information that will help make
ideas stick.
Recently our Year 3 – 8 students took part in a Bay of Plenty Regional Council Wairoa River Restoration
project. What a great way to focus upon, simplify and make the following ideas stick for students;
 understanding that adopting land management practices will future-proof and sustain land and
 recognising the importance of protecting and enhancing waterways and other natural areas
 appreciating what we could contribute as a “care group”
As you have discussions with your children, think about the ideas you are sharing and
exploring and consider what makes them “stick.”

Animal Talkback

posted in: Kowhai yrs 0,1,2 | 2


Matahui School is putting on a school wide production called ‘Animal Talkback’ on the 24th and 25th September.  We are having great fun getting ready for it now, acting out our parts and learning our dance called Jai Ho.  Our scene is set in an Indian village and we have an elephant in our story.  Here are our paintings of an Indian elephant and our stories describing the elephant.


My Elephant by Gianni

My elephant is called Tommy.  Watch out!  He might stomp on you!  He is the biggest of all.  He is the shiniest.  My elephant has big feet.  My elephant comes from India.  He is sparkly and getting ready for the show.  He is happy.P1070854

My Elephant by Matilda

My elephant is as huge as trees.  She is from India.  She has Indian patterns.  She looks sparkly with decorations.  She is beautiful.  She walks down the path to go to the Ball.  She is happy that she is not a white elephant.           P1070858


My Elephant by Denley

My elephant is called Harrison Elephant.  He comes from India.  My elephant is as sparkly as sunshine.  My elephant has sparkly eyebrows.  He is spraying water on his back and he feels cool.


My Elephant by Macy

My elephant comes from India.  It likes grass.  My elephant is sparkly.  My elephant is the biggest.  Her name is Bella.  She walks to the wedding and she looks special.


My Elephant by Troy

My elephant is called Fifi and she is beautiful.  She has sparkly mats on her back.  She comes from India.                                                      P1070855

My Elephant by Asha

My elephant is sparkly and it comes from India.  She is my favourite elephant. She is walking along to the party and she is excited.


My Elephant by Max

I like my elephant because he is cool and sparkly.  He is cute with decorations.  He wants to look pretty for the party.


My Elephant by James

My elephant is friendly with the people.  His name is Puppet.  He comes from India.  He has bright painting on his grey skin.


My Elephant by Keyarn

My elephant is a boy and he is called Keyarn.  He has cool mats on his back.  He is going to a wedding and he looks big.


My Elephant by Millie-Anne

My elephant is pretty.  She comes from India.  She is eating grass.  She is going to a wedding.


My Elephant by Bryleigh

She is sparkly and creative and she is sparkly and beautiful.  She is going to a party in India.  She is happy.