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.


posted in: BLOG, News/Media | 0

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.

Dutch Music Fun at Matahui School

posted in: Class Blogs | 1

In term one we had two students from Holland in our class.  They showed us this dutch song called Paper Hats and we learnt to sing and play it with them.  We really enjoyed learning to sing in dutch with them.  Here are some videos of us singing and playing.   🙂

Matahui students love to learn songs in different languages.  Here we are singing in dutch.  

Click to Tweet


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.




posted in: Principal Blog | 0

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