All posts by Ian Morrison

A Christmas message.

As we enjoyed our annual Santa Show, with students starting Christmas celebrations early and with much energy, I started to reflect on a hectic term and hugely satisfying year. May I use this forum to wish the entire MHJC community a wonderful Christmas and summer break. I trust everyone has a restful time with plenty of relaxation and focus on the family, the spirit of giving and considering those less fortunate than ourselves. If you are travelling I hope you return safely and that our students are recharged and ready for an exciting year. Christmas is about hope and belief in our fellow man, with this in mind let us consider an exciting 2019.

Some exciting events to look forward to include:

  • Our 10th Birthday Celebrations during term 1;
  • Board of Trustees elections in term 2 and
  • The return of the Education Review Office in Term 3.

We will also be able to begin our property plan after the ministry approved funding.

We are looking forward to continue exciting, innovative learning including a whole school focus on the guardianship/kaitiakitanga of Tāne forest and working in partnership with the University of Auckland to promote creativity within our curriculum and continuing our ready to learn activities which include mindfulness practices.

Another important work stream will be the development of our new holistic report which promises to be ground-breaking with students taking part-ownership of the report as well as providing engagement and academic progress and achievement data.

Many thanks to everyone for their support of our hard working teachers and enthusiastic students who have all enjoyed every opportunity to grow their 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!


Introducing Mr Smith

Mr. Jeremy Smith is the newest appointment to our teaching staff. Mr. Smith has joined Coast /Te Whānau o Takutai replacing Ms. Morris who relocated to Canada last term.

Mr. Smith is a Master of Teaching (Secondary) graduate from the University of Auckland specialising in culturally responsive pedagogy. Before his post graduate degree, Jeremy completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

In his spare time Mr. Smith enjoys the outdoors and staying fit. He also has a passion for conservation, volunteering with the Department of Conservation in pest control programmes.

Mr. Smith is particularly passionate about how he can improve the literacy of students at Mission Heights Junior College. Recognising the fundamental role which literacy has for student life outcomes has made this a focus of his practice.

I wish him an enjoyable and fulfilling teaching experience at MHJC as he starts his career with us.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake