Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand – State of the Environment

The latest State of the Environment for Oceania 2017 Report: Turning the Tide, was released by Caritas on St Francis Day, Wednesday 4 October.  We congratulate Caritas on this important report. It is very worth reading and using with students.


Did You Know?

The Catholic Bishops attending the recent Oceania Conference Meeting paid a visit to De La Salle College, Mangere, a school with a predominantly Pacific Islander student body. The Bishops of the Pacific said in a statement: “We are acutely aware of the impact of climate change on island nations, and some of our number have been visiting communities and recording the destruction of shorelines affecting them.”



Showing They Care

Gisborne’s Women’s Refuge will soon receive 50 care packages after a group of Campion College students noticed they were in need of more supplies. Students Katrina Dean, Georgia Jobson, Ella-Korina Bolland and Zara Potter have put together care-packages as part of a school Impact Project. They spent three terms fundraising and have separated the packages into three groups, women, men and children. All packages include a variety of necessities such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, cotton buds, soap, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant.




Tech Girl Superhero Competition

Villa Maria College, Christchurch students have made the finals of the Tech Girl Superhero Competition with their Enviro Snap App which encourages school children to pick up litter around their schools and communities. Sarah Williams, Leonie Stauder and Paris Wardle say the App encourages students to take photos of their rubbish collections and record how many pieces of rubbish they have collected. The App also includes a section dedicated to interesting facts about the environment and information about environmental events and happenings. The girls have already had considerable interest in their Enviro Snap App; Keep NZ Beautiful is in discussion with the girls about using it for clean-up week in September; the Learning Environment team at the Christchurch City Council is also interested; and CORE Education is trialling the App at Gilberthorpes School. The competition is run by the ‘Tech Girls Movement’, a non-profit organisation which aims to support the development of a more diverse IT workforce, in particular aiming to get more girls into technology studies and careers.


NZ Education ‘Top in the World’ for Future Skills

New Zealand’s education system has been ranked top of the world in ‘educating for the future’. The new ranking, produced for the first time by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, measures the extent to which young people in 35 countries learn six kinds of skills that are more about using information than rote-learning. It says the six key skills needed to flourish are:

  • Interdisciplinary skills
  • Creative and analytical skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Digital and technical skills
  • Global awareness and civic education

New Zealand is marked highly for focusing on future skills and project-based learning in its school curriculum and teacher training, and for its careers counselling, collaboration between universities and industry, and the country’s cultural diversity and tolerance. See


How Food Grows

The Soil Food and Society has developed an on-line teaching tool for students and teachers, to help connect students in years 5 -8 with the story of how food grows.  It has been in use by schools since the beginning of this year. It is worth investigating. See


Resiliency Testing Toolkit

Dr. Wayne Hammond, co-CEO of Meritcore ( and creator of the school-based Resiliency Testing Toolkit, is back in New Zealand in November. Dr. Hammond believes resiliency is more than just bouncing back from a challenge, but learning from set-backs and developing competencies that help you became more capable of managing difficult situations in future. A six-year study in one high-needs school found that implementing the toolkit led to a 38% increase in student achievement, a 98% decrease in class exclusions, a 96% decrease in staff turnover, and a 100% decrease in school vandalism.  By having students tested annually, the model can show that students, when supported well, will grow in their resiliency competencies. The result is students who are better equipped for life beyond secondary education.

Dr. Hammond’s visit last June was well received by schools throughout New Zealand, and some are interested in introducing the resiliency programme in schools in New Zealand. His visits were organised by Attitude, the youth arm of NZ support group The Parenting Place. Schools can get in touch with Nathan from Attitude ( to hear more about the programme or to organise Dr. Hammond to visit their schools.


Key Principles of Innovative Learning Environments

 The OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation has identified the key principles of innovative learning environments. These principles position learners as key participants in learning contexts, actively engaged in and developing an understanding of their own learning, and taking part in cooperative learning opportunities that reflect learning’s social nature. The principles also insist that educators and education services: focus on learners’ motivations; understand the role of emotion in achievement; are sensitive to individual differences between learners; provide learners with appropriate cognitive challenges; clarify assessment expectations and strategies with a strong emphasis on formative feedback; and make connections across knowledge areas and with local and global communities.


Common Misconceptions about Learning

Teachers need to be aware that cognitive science has debunked the following erroneous beliefs:

  • Students have distinct learning environments
  • People use either the right or the left side of their brains
  • Humans use only 10% of their brains
  • Novices and experts think in the same ways
  • Cognitive development progresses in a fixed progression of age-related stages

From The Science of Learning by Deans for Impact, 2015.



  • Jershon Tatana of St John’s College, Hastings featured on Newshub, Stuff and in the NZ Herald. The 17-year-old was filmed when a group visiting McDonald’s placed an order in te reo Māori, and he was able to reply in te reo. Jershon goes to St John’s College, Hastings and does one hour of Maori language a week.
  • Tuimaleali’ifano Fiso featured in an article in the Dominion Post newspaper on her win at the national Ngā Manu Kōrero competition for her speech on the importance of spiritual health in education. Principal Maria Potter said it was refreshing to hear a young woman talk so passionately about her spirituality.
  • St Theresa’s School, Plimmerton featured in the Dominion Post newspaper. The school is the focus of a new short documentary by Van Asch Deaf Education Centre which will be used as a resource to show how to effectively integrate deaf education and culture into New Zealand schools. Teacher Deborah Norris says roll time and prayers are always done in sign. In 2016 the school was awarded the New Zealand Sign Language in Schools Award acknowledging their efforts and commitment to sign language and deaf culture.
  • St Mary’s College, Wellington was given a half page feature in the Dominion Post, congratulating them on winning the National Secondary Schools Girls’ Basketball Championship.


The Wisdom of Summer:  Embracing Abundance- a Circle of Trust® Day Retreat

The next retreat is on Saturday 20 January 2018, 9.00am – 4.30pm, at Te Puna, near Tauranga. Registration: $75.00 ($65.00 Early bird).  Contact to book, or for more information. The retreat is limited to 15 people.




Silence as an Indicator of Engagement

“Student engagement is a significant predictor of student learning and achievement. If classroom engagement is the golden eagle, then its counterpart, silence, is the miner’s canary and lifts its voice in resistance to the seen and unseen lurking ahead.” Yolanda Majors, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, July/August 2017.


Get More Fun in Your Life

Practice Peace, Love and Forgiveness

Naturally, life is less fun when you’re hung up on your neighbour’s noisy car muffler, your sister’s gossiping habit or even your own flabby thighs. When you make a point of extending goodwill and forgiveness – and yes, that includes a healthy dose of self-love – you can let go of what makes you grumpy. It sound corny, but the more we can accept ourselves and the people around us, the more we can push the boundaries, and experience joy and laughter in places we didn’t expect to have it.

A Call for Volunteer Teachers – Marist Asia Foundation

A message from Katie Fisher, Deputy Principal, St Teresa’s School, Karori, Wellington: I am a NZ trained teacher currently working in a school for Burmese migrants on the Thai/Myanmar border. The school is run by the Society of Mary (Marists) and provides education for children who would otherwise not attend school after the primary years. Living in Thailand and helping with the education programmes here is a fantastic experience.  If you are a trained teacher and are interested in volunteering for 3 – 12 months visit for more information and contact details.

 Dunedin Youth Day Camp

St Peter’s College, Auckland students reached out across the country and chose Dunedin refugee resettlement as their fundraising mission in 2016. Over the course of the year they raised about $12,000. The Tirohanga youth camp on the 16 September for the recently resettled refugee community and various church youth group members was held in honour of the young people that raised the funds.  The day was so successful the organisers hope to make it an annual event.

St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College Celebrates 150 Years

St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College has just celebrated 150 years. Opened in 1867in response to a request by Māori Missioner Father Euloge Reignier, the school (originally named the Providence) was one of the first schools established by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. Famed Māori activist Dame Whina Cooper is one of many stellar former students.