Often we have positive perspectives shared with us by parents, caregivers and students about aspects of school life, relating especially to the ways in which this school enriches the lives of learners.

This week I would like to share a cross section of “voices” with you that strongly echo the ethos of the school.

“Clara finds she is much more creative in finding solutions in general, and specifically now that they are preparing for Kahunui. She is more self-confident, speaking up and sharing her ideas about big issues (Hiroshima for e.g.) than most other girls. And she is not obsessed to the same degree as her peers with self-image and her profile on social media.” Claudia Remus

“Thanks so much for having Sam and me to visit last Thursday. It was great to see the class ‘in action’ and Sam had a great time – commenting twice during the afternoon that ‘Matahui School is so much fun.’ I was very impressed with the friendliness and inclusiveness of the children. Just awesome! We immediately noticed an improvement in how Sam interacted with his little sister at home – hardly any squabbles since we visited …. I’m calling it Matahui magic!” Danielle Ellis

…. “other Rm 5 students hop into the school van, dressed in thermals and tramping gear, faces glowing with excitement. They are off on an expedition to see what possums, rats and pests have been caught by the “Bring back the Birds” volunteers. They are contributing to a real conservation programme, and learning scientific methods (recording bird songs, recognising paw prints of different pests etc) in real life. They learn that ordinary people can achieve big things by working collectively, and that our community contains many unsung heroes (including them). I watch their teacher set up this activity with the parent helper that will accompany them, and allocate responsibilities within the group. It may seem an ordinary moment, but to me it is very moving. It is so normal for our children to feel valued, safe and nurtured and for adults and peers to act responsibly and cooperatively, and look after each other.”  Anne Templeton

And lastly, a letter from Emma Poppy, who wrote the following letter to Kumara and Rodney, the rats that share my office with me. They often visit the classrooms to see and hear what learning is taking place.

“Dear Rodney and Kumara…..At school I have been working on fractions in maths and we are doing narritive writing. I am having fun at school. I hope you like my gifts!” Emma Poppy


Please note the following: Emma Poppy’s gifts were a gold coin and a chest containing two marbles for each rat – gleaned from her collection of at least 1000 marbles. Also note the clothing adorning the rats – an example of student initiated soft technology. The same students who designed and made the garments also created small desks and provided learning materials for the rats.

Ka kite




I have begun to take the camera outside with me when I am on duty so that when opportunities arise to photograph our students in action (and there have been a number I have missed), I can capture them as a tangible record of just have imaginative they are.

In the past I didn’t take photographs – the boys who built a working roller coaster over in the hut building area; the vast number of students who played “Pee Wee” without any disagreement over rules; the student who designed and built a small chair complete with leaning backrest or the students who went from using slats of wood to modifying skateboards without wheels, then adding Velcro straps to the boards so that their feet wouldn’t slip whilst zooming down a huge pile of wood chips. This must have been a New Zealand first – if not a world first!

This week the ball swing provided an opportunity. An opportunity to swing through a sawdust gouge that had filled with rain water. Of course, when the rain water ran thin the problem was promptly solved by ferrying water to the area via wheelbarrow.


At  Matahui School  the staff give the students some freedom to explore, within reason, these opportunities, so “Day 1” saw us providing some dry clothing to the bedraggled ball riders – “Day 2” the students brought a change of uniform from home. So if the washing pile at home increased you will understand why and if you felt a little annoyed, take a moment to reflect on a playground where students continue to learn through play and can be children.


This game will cease and another will take its place as is the way in the playground. We look forward to the next imaginative, inventive activity that will engage and entertain as our students seize the moment.


Ka kite




posted in: Principal Blog | 0


On Friday 10 July we hosted a mid-winter alumni gathering here at Matahui School. In attendance, we had families whose children had recently left the school to transition into secondary education and a number whose children had long since passed through the school. In both instances however, what was significant, was the fact that they all had wonderful memories of the time they spent here as part of the community.


What was also obvious was the enthusiasm with which our alumni recalled experiences they shared, many of which pertained to aspects of the outdoor education programme the school has developed and received national recognition for in 2012. “Mission Impossible” was a constant source of discussion during which specific moments were vividly rekindled.

As I listened to the conversations evolve it was absolutely apparent that our alumni feel a strong and tangible connection to their school. It was equally apparent that they were well-balanced individuals who had strong self-esteem, were confident, capable, interesting individuals able to engage easily with anyone.

So many of the students who leave Matahui School demonstrate a level of resilience, optimism and motivation to reach their goals and this results in a diverse range of accomplishments. What we would appreciate is hearing more from you all as to what you are currently doing. We would like to continue to celebrate your successes and accomplishments by featuring you on our web site and Facebook. As far as we are concerned you are all shining stars.


On that note, you may be interested to learn that  Toby Cunliffe-Steel recently won a silver medal in the lightweight single sculls at the World University Games. If you would like to read more please access the following link. You will be inspired.’t-stop-nz-rower

We would also like to showcase both our existing and past parents on the website and Facebook. Many of you have successes that highlight the level of entreprenurialism and creativity that thrives in our community. Don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can  share your achievements globally.

Our  thanks to Helga Campbell and Kate Bruning for the extra personal time they put into organizing the alumni evening. To those families who brought along food and drink – our thanks. Most importantly, thank you for maintaining your connection to the school. You will always be part of our whanau.

Ka kite



posted in: Principal Blog | 2


Becoming a Slow Tech Family.… I was recently sent a thought provoking article (use the web link below to read the entire piece), in which Janell Burley Hoffman provides some useful, thought provoking advice for parents regarding the use of technology.

“In our world, food, family and free play have a firm place, often touted as sacred and protected ground. And since our life is designed to fully embrace living it, we have to be mindful of all the pieces that might creep in and occupy more than their fair share. Technology is one of those pieces.”  (The Slow Tech Movement–by Janell Burley Hoffman, syndicated from, Apr 17, 2015)

Sometimes parents feel the pressure of doing things with the children during a holiday break that involve layers of complexity, some of which may include additional cost. The good news is that you don’t need to do much to happily engage the children if you provide them with the space and scope for imaginative play, beyond a reliance on technological gadgets or wizardry. Make no mistake – I am not a luddite nor someone who doesn’t enjoy spending time surfing You tube for music videos, but there is incredible room for balance.

Prior to the holidays I  watched in awe and fascination as our Year 1 and 2 students played happily together, as each found a tyre they could use to roll across the grounds, on the flat and down the hill. The way they organised a “mass roll” required effective levels of communication and in the process they were demonstrating and discovering some quite sophisticated science concepts.
I also observed with great interest, a Year 5 student create what is pictured below. What is it? How was it being used? What elements of science and mathematics were drawn upon to create and use this object? (for the answer as to what the object is check the bottom of this blog – if you haven’t been able to work it out yet).



The recent Christchurch Brick Show provided an opportunity for Lego enthusiasts and collectors to show their designs. Whilst children had the chance to develop their own creations the majority of the sophisticated models were built by adults. The ability and desire to play, craft and construct are not solely domains for children.

So as you can see, there are wonderful ways to stimulate creativity, imagination and fun beyond technology. You don’t however need to become overly draconian and lock technology away. Our students live in a digital world.  Perhaps become a Slow Tech family by adhering to the 7 wonderful ideas Hoffman presents in her article.
“Slow Tech parenting isn’t about perfection; it’s about awareness.”

Try out her suggestions and at the same time, be aware that the children can be actively and fully engaged in creating their own fun whilst continuing to learn.

Happy playing.


ANSWER : An aircraft


posted in: Class Blogs, Principal Blog | 0

Matahui School has always had a strong connection to the environment and subscribed to the notion that the classroom extends well beyond the four walls. I have always felt that given our proximity to the Kamai range, in essence our “backyard,” that as a school we could perhaps assume a greater responsibility and connection for a section of the bush and accept a role as guardians.

We were recently given the opportunity to take part in the Aongatete Restoration project in which North Island weka were captured in the Opotiki area so that they could be released into an aviary established in the Aongatete forest  – an exciting prospect we could not pass up.


The Maori have traditionally held a strong and deep affinity for the natural world – the concept of managing the environment which they express as kaitiakitanga.

Being able to take an active part in this project which will be ongoing, is Matahui School’s kaitiakitanga.  The impact of being directly involved in the release of the birds has made an indelible impression on our students. Having helped carry the birds into the forest and then seeing them settled they have come to realise that they can continue to support the project and maintain a close connection with the forest and its newest inhabitant and take on a guardianship role.


Our entire school community would like to thank  Ann Graeme for sharing this unique experience with the Matahui School students and giving us an authentic reason to consider becoming guardians of the forest.

Use the following Facebook links to get more detailed information and a host of other photographs….


Ka kite




posted in: Class Blogs, Principal Blog | 0


At Matahui School we emphasise the importance of our commonly held school values and at the same time endeavor to highlight the importance of service in terms of providing support to others who need our help or assistance.

It is of great benefit therefore, for the students to see our parent community model service to the community. One such example is  the Matahui School fishing competition. There are three elements that underscore this event. Firstly there is the focus on bringing our school community together as families to share the experience of fishing our local harbour, after which we come together to swap stories, socialize and hand out prizes. Secondly there is a huge emphasis on having fun, whether catching fish or not. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is the fund raising component whereby we seek to provide some financial support for local organisations who give so much to the community.

In the last three years the school has generated funds for the Coastguard, Search and Rescue and this year, the St Johns Ambulance service. In each case these are organisations that might in extreme circumstances be there for us. As a consequence our students learn why it is important for us to give back.

Another tangible example of parental service is evident in terms of refurbishing the relocatable building.  A number of Matahui males have willingly given their time to help with the project. What the dads have modelled for their children is a high level of commitment and cooperation – attributes we aim to develop in our students.   

I recently received a letter from our Year 5/6 students requesting time for them to coordinate a working bee centred on our native bush area. This initiative demonstrates how the students are able to recognize their responsibilities around service to their school community.

We have chosen to become part of an exciting “Weka Community Project” designed to reintroduce weka to the Aongatete forest. This project will give our students the chance to be actively involved in re-establishing weka in our local area and potentially assume some guardianship of the section of forest where they are to be released. What a great opportunity for the students to engage in an important service project in our “backyard.” I shall focus on this wonderful initiative more in future posting.

The Returned Services Association of New Zealand sent us materials for a very poignant display which we erected at the base of our flagpole. The  names on the crosses are people who came from our region and the memorial  was established to acknowledge, recognize and remember what ANZAC Day means to us all, something we focused upon as part of our values assembly. It symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice New Zealanders made during the First World War – an extreme act of service. 


Ka kite



posted in: Principal Blog | 0

From Max Muller

Whenever a valued staff member leaves a school there is a sense of sadness though this is usually coupled with a celebration of the contribution the person has made. At the end of the last academic year Pauline Miller announced she was retiring from full time teaching and this sent a wave of emotion through our community, especially as Pauline had been with Matahui almost since its inception 26 years ago.

How do you acknowledge the legacy someone leaves behind when they have invested so much time and energy into the lives of other peoples' children?

The best I can do is share with you an instance whereby an ex student of Pauline's, a young man now married with a family of his own, came back to visit the school.. He spent time reminiscing about everything that had been most significant in his time at Matahui and right at the centre was Pauline Miller. The impact of his time here was such that he said that were he and the family to relocate to New Zealand he would definitely enroll his children.

Use the following link to access Pauline's speech . It is peppered with messages for us all. Having read it I am sure that you will recognise and understand why Pauline was, and remains, so loved and respected. d/ 0B0ezCljlV5PVckRBc0ZjRGVWeG8/ view?usp=sharing