Category Archives: Principal’s Blog

Waitangi Day


During his address at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi/Te tiriti o Waitangi Crown representative Lieutenant Governor William Hobson said the famous line “He iwi tahi tatou – we are one people”.

This is especially significant as we welcome our new students (over 250), staff and parents to the school. They have come from different schools close by or from foreign lands but all now share a special bond as members of our wonderful MHJC learning community.

This morning our Year 7 students and staff members were welcomed at a powhiri held in their honour. We look forward to sharing their learning journey and growing the greatness that lies within everyone and learning how we can honour the spirit of the treaty.

So let us enjoy the public holiday tomorrow, and reflect on the work so many people are doing and have done to bring people together to create this wonderful country. As we do so, let us consider what we can do to continue the nation building example of those who have gone before us. For pakeha this could mean learning more Te Reo Māori or becoming more familiar with the cultural traditions and practices or Ti kanga Māori and for our Māori community to support others on what can be a challenging journey. There was no better example of this than when our students taught their classmates and teachers the school haka last year!

At a school level consider how we can share our knowledge with our new recruits – support and guide them so everyone feels safe, valued and welcomed in this new environment.

Our Charter contains an important strategic goal of honouring the treaty and I urge our community to challenge ourselves in some way this year to support the inspirational words of William Hobson.

Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!

Welcome back to another exciting year at MHJC!


A special welcome to our new students and to those returning – thank you for trusting us with the education of your children and we look forward to enjoying a collaborative learning journey.

I thought I would highlight some key events and areas we will focus on this year:

In term 1 we will celebrate our 10th birthday by opening the school to our community, past and present, on Saturday morning 6 April. Please diarise this date as we organise fun events, food and entertainment which will celebrate our amazing journey.

In term 2 our new Board of Trustees will be elected. We hope as in the past to have a number of parents putting themselves forward for this important duty particularly in the year in which elements of the Tomorrow’s Schools model are being reviewed, including the role and power of boards coming under the microscope. More on this topic can be found on the following web site: https://conversation.education.govt.nz/conversations/tomorrows-schools-review/

In term 3 we will host for the first time a group of Chinese students from Xian Ling Middle School in Nanjing, following our visit there last year and we will visit them again later in the term.

Our first 10 Year Property Plan will start this year. The conditional assessment of our grounds and buildings is almost complete which estimates how much we will need to spend to ensure the site is safe and in working order and this will inform the amount we have left to enhance teaching and learning at MHJC.

In terms of teaching and learning we will make a school wide focus of our conservation and guardianship/kaitiakitanga responsibilities of Tāne forest which neighbours our property and we will develop our holistic reporting system which will reflect student achievement, progress, engagement and our values.

We will also make a special focus of creativity as one of the central themes of future skills and 21st century learning as explained in our new Charter.

Finally we will continue with the many other exciting opportunities and programmes including mindfulness to ensure all students’ wellbeing and learning is promoted.

Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!

Our teachers

There has been much discussion of teachers in the media recently with primary and secondary teachers’ unions having taken or considering strike action after negotiations over conditions of service  broke down with the ministry.

 

I attended a lecture about teacher retention earlier this year and learnt that among the most significant reasons for teachers staying in the profession include their commitment to teaching and their commitment to the school. In this regard I wish to thank our community for supporting our teachers and expressing whenever possible your appreciation for their efforts. These simple actions, along with our wonderful students, go a long way to ensuring MHJC remains a place which teachers hate to leave.

 

We are very fortunate at MHJC that we are currently fully staffed and enjoy a high number of applicants for every vacancy we advertise. For example we received 20 applications for one position recently. We are able to attract primary and secondary trained teachers both of whom fall into the SCTA or Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement which is why we were not on strike last week.

 

Some more information may interest the community.

We have a nice balance of youth and experience and have an average age well below the national average with:

  • 8 teachers in the first 5 years of their career who bring new ideas from training college to enrich our practice;
  • 34 teachers have between 5 and 15 years experience who help to fill the middle and senior leadership positions and
  • 7 “master craftsmen and women” have 15 years experience or more who help to guide the less experienced teachers within our mentoring programme.

All our teachers are highly qualified with:

  • 25 teachers holding a degree and teacher’s diploma;
  • 11 with a postgraduate qualification and
  • 13 with a masters qualification.

Our turnover is relatively low with:

  • only 6 staff leaving last year. This includes two teachers who are on maternity leave and will be returning.
  • At time of writing we are fully staffed for next year with only four teachers leaving us.

 

We closely track the reasons for leaving and in the last three years these include promotion opportunities at other schools, relocations (nationally and internationally) and retirement. I am pleased to report that MHJC continues to be a sought after school for teachers who, according to the latest community feedback survey, enjoy high levels of satisfaction within an innovative and supportive learning environment.

 

Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!

 

Armistice Day 2019

Sunday 11 November marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the day world war one ended. Every year we acknowledge Anzac Day however the centenary of the day on which the “war that will end all wars” ended is not always observed as widely in New Zealand. It is an important day for us because while the sacrifice shown by the Anzac Forces in Gallipoli cannot be underestimated, New Zealand soldiers also contributed greatly to the Allied war effort on the Western Front in Europe. In total 16 697 New Zealanders were killed in the war, 2779 during the Gallipoli campaign.

Indeed a casualty rate of 58% was one of the highest of any countries involved in world war one. The impact on such a small country was significant and it took many years before the country recovered.

Again we are reminded of the courage of those men and women who served their country, too many giving the ultimate sacrifice. And we appreciate the relative safety and stability we enjoy here in New Zealand. Perhaps a relevant message is that we still need to have the courage to stand up for universal values which uphold and preserve our humanity.

I trust the students of MHJC never have to face the horrors of war but will be prepared to face the challenges of the future with confidence and compassion.

Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!  

 

Community Feedback Survey

My thanks to the almost 200 parents who have responded so far to my invitation to complete the survey. I also appreciate the many positive comments and constructive suggestions you have shared.

 

Owing to initial problems with connecting to the link I will keep it open for another few days – closing Wednesday 7th November – lets see if we can hit 300!

Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!

United Nations Day

Last Wednesday, 24 October was United Nations Day. I wish to highlight the day as many of our learning contexts this year have been linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which were designed by the United Nations. The 17 goals range from eliminating poverty to climate action and provide our students with a strong focus or direction for their learning.

We believe at MHJC that learning should be authentic. This means it has purpose and be relevant to the student. Developing a strong community conscience and desire to make a difference within students are goals we hold dear hence my desire to bring the SDG’s to the attention of the community.

Global citizens – our travellers return

We extend a warm welcome to our international travellers. Our first group of students returned from a very enjoyable trip to China where they experienced a wonderful cultural experience at Xian Lin Intermediate School in Nanjing. We wish this new connection to grow and perhaps host students from this school next year. The opportunity to meet students from another country, visit important cultural and historic places and see another school system provides our students with valuable personal insights. We thank Mrs Dada and Mrs Gao who planned, arranged and supervised the trip for their time and efforts.

 

Our second group was the national Tournament of Minds winners who competed in the international competition in Darwin. To the group’s disappointment they did not place however they emerged with great credit and we are proud of their achievement in this the first time MHJC has entered the event. Thanks to Mrs Lal who entered the school in the competition and supported the team to achieve and achieve an amazing result. We also extend our appreciation to everyone who supported the trip as the last minute fund-raising efforts (which reached the goal of covering all costs) was as much a success as any other!

 

In both cases our students have grown and learnt valuable life lessons.

 

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) at MHJC

One of the responsibilities of a Board of Trustees is to provide for the special needs of gifted and talented students. Recently I asked two members of our senior leadership team, Mrs Lal and Mrs Kilpatrick to attend a conference which provided new perspectives on this important area of our curriculum. As a result we will be reviewing our existing programmes in 2019 and introducing some modifications which will be trialled early next year.

 

The review will include:

  1. A shared definition and understanding of the phrase “gifted and talented”;
  2. A clear and comprehensive identification process of gifted and talented students;
  3. The modification of curriculum opportunities for gifted and talented students.

 

It is pleasing to note that we already have a well established programme for GATE students which include the accelerate class in year 9 and 10, a large number of extra curricular activities (4 Cornerstones) and a number of Extension courses within the DEEP programme which give students the opportunity to develop their gifts and talent in a number of areas.

 

I wish to signal a trial for Year 8 students next year. Current Year 7 students who will be identified as gifted or talented by teachers, themselves and parents will remain in their whānau in 2019 but come together for inquiry learning in 2 hour sessions with specially selected teachers. We wish to see the benefits of this model compared to our traditional model of moving identified students into one class within a whānau in Year 9 and 10.

 

Invitations to be considered for the 2019 Year 9 accelerate class have been sent to parents and this class will proceed as before. The class is rotated around the school and it will be Forest Whānau’s turn to accommodate the class next year. The Year 10 class will continue as before in Water Whānau.

 

Our gifted and talented students already enjoy a great deal of support and success at the school in a variety of ways ranging from Academic Competitions, STEM related challenges, cultural performances, sporting activities and leadership forums. Our intention is to broaden these opportunities so that even more students are able to experience this level of performance and involvement.

 

Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!

 

School haka – Kia mana ake

We are very excited about an important event at the school which will take place on Friday, 7 September at 2 o’clock on the tennis courts. For several weeks staff and students have been learning the school haka – Kia Mana Ake and it will be performed by each whānau and as a whole school on that day.

I have been delighted with the energy and enthusiasm the school has shown during the learning process. It was emphasised that the performances would not be a competition but a celebration and the spirit of the haka has shone through as a result. I have also been impressed by the leadership shown by our Māori students who have led the learning of the haka within their whānau.

It will be a most enjoyable and heart-warming celebration of Ti Kanga Māori; whānau and school unity and an excellent way to reinforce our commitment to and promotion of our bi-cultural heritage.

My thanks goes to Mr Jason Tuhaka, author of the school haka who has, along with his whānau, done so much to promote both Māori language and culture at our school and to our new Te Reo Māori teacher, Mr Brent Dunn who has worked tirelessly to teach the haka to our students.

For your interest the words and English translation appear below:

Kaea Kia rite, Kia rite, Kia mau Get ready!
Katoa Hi!
Kaea Torona Titaha Arms ready!
Katoa Titaha!
Kaea Ko wai e tū ake nei? Who is standing here?
Katoa Ngā taonga o tātou tipuna

E tū ana tātou i raro i te maru o Puke Ariki

Me te mana o Ngāi Tai e!

The treasures of our ancestors

We are standing under the protection/shelter of Puke Ariki and

The prestige of the people and land of the Ngāi Tai iwi!

Kaea Toia mai! Pull!
Katoa I Te waka The waka!
Kaea Toia mai! Pull!
Katoa I Te waka!

He waka takohanga

He waka matauranga e

He waka eke noa aue hi!

The waka!

A waka of responsibility

A waka of education

We are all in this together

Kaea Me takatū tātou So let us ready ourselves!
Katoa Me takatū tātou kia puāwai kia whakapakiri e

He waka kore hoe he tangata kore huarahi

Let us ready ourselves to blossom and mature

A waka without a paddle is like a person without purpose

Kaea Aue Kia kaha! Be strong
Katoa Hi!
Kaea Aue Kia māia! Be brave
Katoa Ha!

Aue Kia manawanui

I tēnei ao hurihuri

Ahakoa ngā tūātea, ngā paraawa

Koinei te ope haere ki Tawhiti

We will be courageous

In this ever changing world

No matter the challenges we face

We will go above and beyond

Kaea Kia mana ake Growing greatness
Katoa Aue hi!

 

What a week!!

Last week was one which highlighted so much of what we strive for at MHJC – providing opportunities for our students to display their talents, to compete against others or simply be the best they can be.

 

Finalists for the school Public Speaking competition impressed me with their confidence and assured delivery of a wide range of topics. How courageous to talk of issues which directly affect them commenting on issues ranging from race, religion, gender, sexual and cultural identity to genocide and the personal impact of civil war. The external judges reinforced the generally held view that our students show a maturity and honesty beyond their years.

 

Then passionate Mathematicians showed off their skill at our annual Mathex Competition. What an exciting evening this was as the energy built to a crescendo before the final buzzer sounded and put the cream on the top of Maths Week.

 

On the same evening and following day several groups competed in a technology competition, hosted at the school – EPro8 Challenge which presents groups with a series of tasks to complete within a time limit. Again our students stepped up and showed how well equipped they are to take on the technological challenges of the future.

Early on Thursday morning our guest speaker at the Man Up breakfast spoke of the importance of finding a sense of purpose and living a life of integrity to our boys accompanied by significant male role models in their lives.

And on the sporting front, our senior boys competed in the Auckland Regional Basketball Championship, top Cross Country runners qualified for Auckland Championships and our weekend warriors – senior netball and football teams emerged victorious in their league games.

 

Then on Friday I witnessed something magical. At the end of the day during Learning Advisor time, one whānau rehearsed the school haka under the bike shelter, another heard it and could not resist responding and before we knew it, student led renditions were threatening to cause structural damage to the buildings!

 

On Wednesday I met graduating teachers who are interested in teaching at MHJC – none of them could believe what we do and the opportunities we provide our students to grow their greatness. None of this would have been possible though without passionate, committed teachers and parents – thank you for your continued support.

 

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!