From the Principal

For those who didn’t make it to the Parish AGM here is my Report


E te pāriha, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa                                                               

It is my pleasure to present this report, containing the state of St Anne’s Catholic School, to the parish. 

Enrolments  – Over the last year, the school has been very busy. We have had a large roll increase and past the 140 mark and are looking to finish at around 160. This is an eight-year high and one of the highest over the last 15 years. While it is not a competition how many students we have, it is an indicator of the great things going on in the school and the confidence of the community. It also means more students, more people coming closer to God. 

Staffing updates  – As a staff, Marian Jones has stepped down as Director of Religious Studies and Clara Mapley has been appointed the new DRS. We thank Marian for the amazing job she did over the last three years as DRS and look forward to what Clara brings to the position. Josh Halkett and Hazel Harnett-Garbes have been welcomed into the church at Easter, now meaning, all teachers are Catholic.  

Professional Development  – In terms of professional development this year, teachers with less experience in Religious Education are completing the paper ‘RE501 Religious Education Today.’ This is part of the Diploma of Religious Studies.        We are doing a lot with e-Learning which involves the use of digital learning. We are part of the Better Start work being done at the University of Canterbury. The research is so clear, better start, better finish. Misinterpretation of the Finland model is confusing parents.  We are thankful to be clear as to what needs to be done in early education to help ensure success. 

As always, we continue to develop our te reo Māori to show our commitment to the Treaty and to the social justice needs of the indigenous people of Aotearoa.  

Parish links  – Our school is working on increasing its involvement in the church through music. We have 70 students at school receiving tuition in either piano, guitar, drums or vocals. We also have a gospel choir and a jubilate group.  We are developing how we do sound and microphones and are trailing different things. We won’t always be in tune or at the perfect volume, but we are trying and will continue to try. Thank you for your patience. To date, only our gospel choir has been involved at Mass, but look out in the near future for a change. 

Role of the parish  – I am utterly impressed by the evangelizing nature of Fr Dan and the parish. You truly welcome people to the church and help all families to progress through the sacraments. It is rare at St Anne’s for a child to enter the school and not finish it a baptised Catholic or with a much stronger faith. That says something and I for one, praise Fr Dan, our staff and the parish for this. This is not only for students but also for adults. I would love to see the list of people Fr Dan has brought into the church through baptism. Whilst, as I said earlier, numbers are not a competition but a sign of good things. Fr Dan, you will be missed when you do retire. I know you are a person who, if you get 50 praise points about something you have done, but get one negative, all you can think about is the negative. I am similar. It is a perfection complex, and to me, is not a bad thing, it means you care, and you want to do your very best. Rest easy in your retirement, you have done your best!!!!

Commitment to our bicultural foundations  – As a school, we have a strong commitment to Māori language and culture. Whilst only around 20% of students are of Māori descent and around 30% of staff, we all are New Zealanders and we wouldn’t be New Zealanders without respecting our bicultural foundations and the Treaty of Waitangi. We also know from research that Māori students achieve far higher in a school that understands Māori and values the students and their culture. We also know students who can speak more than one language have a higher cognitive function. I have a vision of students leaving our school speaking English, Māori and for those students with family from overseas, being strong in that language and culture also. I have appreciated the support of some community and parish members who join in at Mass with any responses in Māori or sing Māori songs. The Māori students do notice and are thankful, as am I.  Our school is getting requests to see what we are doing in this area from principals and teachers, I have been requested to speak to teachers and principals on developing Māori language and culture into schooling lately. 

Property  – We have installed security cameras around the school, new lights, carpet, and furniture. A Dodgeball pit has been built and new blinds and telephone system has been added due to the lockdown reflection. We have developed a music room and we are now leasing a van for a year. This is to help with small groups like sports teams to get around. We are currently drawing plans for a Whare Tapere. This is a staged area for drama, music performances, and even the Mass/prayer services. 

To conclude, personally I love leading this school and I thank Stella Maris Parish for all the support you give to me and the school. Our school is truly giving our best in the learning and faith development of the children in our school. I have a saying I use when any visitor is welcomed onto our school.                                                                                                                          Ko Īhu te tauira (Jesus is our example)                                                                                                        Nā tāna korero (by his words)                                                                                                                          Nā tāna mahi (by his actions)                                                                                                                            Nā tāna whakahau (by his commandments)                                                                                                   Mā te mahi e whakatinana ai te whakapono (we live our faith)                                                        Mā te Atua koutou e whakamānawa! (God bless you all!)

Dallas Wichman                                                                                                                                                        Principal