Principal’s Blog

  • This month on SchoolTV – Happiness & Gratitude (4/1/2020)

    While we adjust to life during lock-down it is even more important for us to continue to support each other. I am sure many of us are reflecting on our lives now we have a bit more time and space for what was an indulgence but should be a daily habit.

    I trust you find this update valuable:

    Happiness is a term that captures a huge variety of positive emotions such as humour, serenity, optimism, joy, pride, inspiration, love and hope. Happiness means different things, to different people and is essential to your understanding of emotional literacy. Throughout history, philosophers, religious writers and poets have pondered on the meaning of happiness and how it might be achieved. In the last few decades, scientists and psychologists have researched this further by studying a field of science called positive psychology.

    The result of this research suggests there is a strong correlation between gratitude and greater happiness. Practising gratitude helps you shift your focus to positive memories or experiences, noticing the good in your life. Over time, this will re-wire your brain to create new neural pathways, increasing your state of happiness and overall wellbeing.

    In this edition of SchoolTV, parents and care-givers will learn how to achieve happiness and the benefits of practising gratitude. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition, and we always welcome your feedback.

    If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school for further information or seek medical or professional help.

    Here is the link to this month’s edition


  • Advice for “homeschooling” (3/26/2020)

    Kia ora parents and caregivers


    I am sure you have been reading a lot of advice from various sources about distance/on-line or homeschooling. Here is some advice from SchoolTV


    SPECIAL REPORT: Preparing for Homeschooling


    Homeschooling could soon be a reality for many adult carers as nations act to implement strategies in the prevention of COVID-19. The daunting task of establishing new routines and schedules, whilst juggling work responsibilities, could prove to be disruptive and challenging for families and schools.


    Some young people will transition seamlessly, whilst others may struggle. Therefore it will be vitally important for parents to be vigilant in looking for signs of anxiety and depression. Parents will need to continue to be reassuring and supportive in this time of uncertainty and acknowledge that this may be a stressful time for students of all ages.


    Schools will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure a child’s academic needs are met, but parents will need to play a key role in providing them with the structure and groundwork for success. Young people will be looking towards their parents to keep things in context and help ease the transition to a different learning environment.


    In this Special Report, parents and caregivers will be provided with some guidelines on how best to navigate this time of transition with minimal disruption. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this Special Report, and as always, we welcome your feedback.


    If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school for further information or seek medical or professional help.


    Here is the link to your special report


  • Update: Tuesday 24 March (3/24/2020)
    Following the Prime Minister announcement yesterday, school is closed for instruction except for children of parents in essential services. If students in this category come to school on Tuesday and Wednesday they will be supervised in the library – please report there at 8.30.
    No-one is to be on site from Wednesday midnight.
  • Interesting times (3/17/2020)

    I take this opportunity to share some significant actions of our students this past week which show their heart and ability to take action.

    To commemorate the anniversary of the tragic events in Christchurch on March 15, each whānau assembled to pay tribute to the victims and their families, the courage of the first responders, the resilience of the hospital staff and to remember the world wide sharing of aroha and awhinatanga. Our message to the students is never to forget the lessons we learnt that day – to respect and celebrate our differences, to condemn hurtful comments or actions and to reach out in times of need. It is amazing how quickly time passes and we should not forget this momentous event.

    Under the lead of Mr Gardi and the Enviro Council students have been working hard to save precious taraire trees in Tāne forest. Several have died already as a result of the unusually dry conditions we are experiencing and the school has taken up the challenge with pleasing urgency. This is an active way to promote kaitiakitanga or guardianship of this precious natural resource and complements other initiatives which each whānau has committed to.

    Growing greatness – Kia mana ake

  • Happy Waitangi Day (2/6/2020)

    Today marks the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This important document helped to establish a formal relationship between the crown (Britain) and Māori. While there are still differences as to how the treaty can be interpreted and questions surrounding the legitimacy of those who signed it, the people of New Zealand/Aotearoa continue to work together to build a nation we can be proud of today.

    MHJC is embarking on a journey this year to improve our collective understanding of the Māori world view which we feel aligns closely with the spirit of the treaty – “we are one people”. 

    A quick example of how we can learn is the urgent need for the world to respect, honour and be guardians of the land.  The Māori phrase kaitiakitanga captures this perfectly and illustrates that we ignore lessons of the past at our peril. MHJC is fortunate to have a valuable resource, Tāne forest on our doorstep which we use to promote kaitiakitanga to each new generation of students which will extend to other areas of their lives. Making the world a better place.

    Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!

  • SWIFT Conference 2019 (11/9/2019)

    MHJC is fortunate to have developed close connections with Hwa Chong International School in Singapore. As a result our Year 10 students are offered the opportunity to represent the school and New Zealand/Aotearoa in an annual Student Leaders’ Convention. We are the only Kiwi school invited to this event and we also are members of the SWIFT (Schools With an Interest in Future Technology) alliance. The schools from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Russia each host a conference on a bi-annual basis and it was my pleasure to travel to Kazan, Tatarstan with Kate Lambert our DP Curriculum in late October. As this was the fifth conference it was an invaluable opportunity to catch up on the journeys of the schools we have come to know so well and share some of the new practices we have trialled which keep us on the cutting edge of innovation. 


    It was interesting to note how the schools from Singapore are shifting closer to our educational philosophy. They are very interested in how we are able to deliver the curriculum meaningfully and with purpose. The ideas of a personalised or student centred approach and emphasis on skills, values and dispositions are central to what we do but are gaining ground in systems which had been very examination and results focussed in the past. The delegates were also very interested in our holistic reporting system as it is a deviation from the traditional teacher generated comment and result format and provides students with greater ownership of their journey celebrating progress and involvement as well as achievement.


    Ms Lambert and I returned with some valuable new insights but more particularly we are even more confident that the MHJC traditions of cross-curricular, authentic and relevant learning are still leading the way in terms of curriculum delivery. Our balance of academic rigour and personal inquiry with opportunities for collaboration and creativity gives everyone space to grow their greatness – kia mana ake!

  • MHJC teachers leading learning (10/17/2019)

    One of our strategic goals is to attract, retain and develop high quality teachers and support staff. Part of this goal is achieved through our professional development plan. All our teachers are involved in “inquiry” projects of their own as part of our professional development programme. Every year we identify areas of our teaching or leadership that we wish to improve, strengthen or investigate and experts from within the staff or external providers support teachers to grow their practice. We also host a number of schools who are interested in how we deliver the curriculum, our focus on personalised learning and our DEEP programme in particular.


    During the October holidays several teachers presented at educational conferences. Their time and efforts are appreciated as they have helped to reinforce our place at the forefront of innovative educational research and practice. 


    Ms Lambert has led a team of MHJC teachers for almost two years with resourcing from the ministry which has investigated how to strengthen collaborative practice among teachers. The positive findings of this research will help us to continue with our integrated approach to learning which allows students to see links between learning areas and develop authentic outcomes which are relevant to them, particularly with regards numeracy. She and Ms Grant, one of the team, presented their findings at U-Learn, other members of the team, Mr Hishey and Mrs Premdeep presented at the New Zealand Mathematics Association and Mrs Phadke will be presenting later this term at the Statistics Teachers’ Day at the University of Auckland.


    Mr Choong also presented at U-Learn with the support of some of our students. His focus was the integration of STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into the general curriculum and Mrs Newbold presented ‘Learning through the Arts’ at a Literacy Conference in Christchurch. STEM and creativity are both focus areas for the school. 


    The professional development of our staff and willingness to share our learning journey individually and collectively show that we are committed to our vision of “growing greatness through innovative, constantly evolving personalised learning”.


    Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!



  • MHJC digital detox day (6/26/2019)


    On Monday July 1, the college will go back to the future by experiencing a school day without the use of devices. The only exception will be Senior Leaders being allowed to communicate on their phones in case of an emergency. Otherwise teaching and learning will be conducted without devices and students will be reminded not to use their phones, if they have to bring them to school, until the end of the school day. Again, any emergency should be communicated either to reception or the student’s Whanau Assistant in the normal way.


    Our strategic plan includes the desire to promote a balanced lifestyle for our students. We encourage teachers to use a blended approach to teaching so that not all activities require a device. We also encourage participation in healthy physical activities, connecting with each other, ourselves and with nature during numerous camps and trips. We have many activities during DEEP and in our extra-curricular programme which help students to gain this balance and this day will reinforce our resolve as a community and Tāne Forest is being developed as a sanctuary for students and staff to practice mindfulness.


    May I urge parents to continue this initiative by ensuring students minimise screen time at home. Tips from articles I have read include:

    • eating together as a family without the distraction of phones or devices; 
    • stopping the use of devices at least an hour before bed to ensure that students get quality sleep; 
    • not allowing devices into bed-rooms during the night; 
    • buying an alarm clock so the phone is not required to wake up in the morning;
    • have your own device free day or time every week.;
    • setting a good example to our children – sometimes we need to detox as much as them!

    Research is increasingly being publicised of the harmful physiological and psychological effects of excessive use of digital devices. As teachers and parents we must be reminded of the incredible positive aspects of digital technology but caution over-use.


    So let’s talk to each other face to face, do exciting activities which include movement and being outside, read, write, debate, discuss and collaborate directly with others. This will enrich our lives and remind us of what it is to be unplugged members of the human race!


    Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!

  • Teachers and support staff – what can we do to show them that they are valued? (5/27/2019)

    I am sure the MHJC community is well aware of the strike action planned for Wednesday 29 May. Some of the issues that have been publicised include salary increments that have not kept pace with inflation and working conditions which have caused many to seek other employment or which have caused significant health concerns.


    I am pleased to be working with a Board of Trustees which takes its responsibility as a “good employer” seriously and has supported several initiatives to promote staff wellbeing. Some strategies include membership of the Employee Assistance Programme; showing a compassionate approach to leave requests; paying support staff a “living wage” which is above rates specified in the collective agreement; support of teachers going on study leave and supporting management with initiatives which assist teachers and support staff to maintain a work/life balance. Our mentoring system has also been very successful in responding to the needs of our staff before the situation becomes damaging and the schools within school/whānau system is a very effective means of providing emotional support to our staff as well as our students. I continue to work with our Senior Leadership Team at ways in which we can lighten the load on our staff and commit to this on a daily basis.


    While planning this message I wondered what our community can do to support our teaching and support staff while the union leaders and Education Minister lock horns. I note in the many articles and news reports that many teachers and support staff describe their situations in different ways often because of the context in which they work. I am pleased that in general our students and caregivers provide wonderful support to our staff. While working conditions overall could improve it is so important that our staff are and feel valued. We can all show this by following our values of integrity/pono and compassion/awhinatanga. Let us show our appreciation and gratitude for what our teachers and support staff do on a daily basis whether it be phoning in an absence, replying to a reminder about homework completion or simply meeting and greeting a coach/manager at an academic competition, sporting or cultural event. Just a few kind words on these occasions may not fill the bank account but they will fill the well of goodwill and put a smile on the face and a spring in the step for a community that is doing a great job but needs a boost right now.

    Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!

  • Kindness Week (5/12/2019)

    This week we look forward to a number of activities which will promote our school’s values of integrity and compassion. We believe that by cultivating a better understanding of our differences and celebrating our wonderful cultural diversity we can send a positive message to our community. The week will finish with Pink Shirt Day which has become a rallying cry for us to treat each other with respect and manage ourselves so that we remain calm and respond appropriately if offended. The most important change we wish to see after analysing a recent survey is for students to become more equipped to articulate their feelings and for bystanders who witness hurtful actions or words to make a stand and indicate their disapproval. This has been documented to be one of the most powerful ways to combat bullying.


    The following web site has more information which may provide us with greater insight:


    Our view is that while we respond to any reports of anti-social behaviour we also wish to promote a positive message of seeking ways to be kind and compassionate which help create a culture of acceptance and celebration of our differences. The Student Executive Council has created a slogan “#be kind, be you” which I think sums up our message superbly.

    Growing Greatness – Kia Mana Ake!

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