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Nau mai, haere mai, talofa lava, malo e lelei, bula vinaka, kia orana, warm greetings

As I write this week’s newsletter, I watch and hear hundreds of mentoring meetings occurring throughout school as parents, students and staff work together to help navigate through subject options for 2020. The key to this process is in the relationships between all key stakeholders. It has been fantastic to see rich conversation and our young people working alongside their teachers and parents.

I have recently listened at a number of conferences and workshops on how important sleep is in relation to our ability to perform everyday tasks at a high level. An increasing amount of research is starting to demonstrate the part that lack of sleep has on academic performance, mental health, sports performance and general wellbeing. For an average adolescent our students should be having 8-10 hours’ sleep every night, if this is not achieved even for one night the impact on daily routines is quite marked. For adults a minimum of 8 hours sleep is the recommendation. The amount of sleep that our young people have is a very controllable situation that can have a large impact on performance across many levels and most importantly our mental health and wellbeing. Wouldn’t it be great if, as a community, our young people were device free from 9.00pm and getting the rich sleep they need during these highly developing years?

Last week we hosted the annual National Edmund Rice Conference here at St Thomas’. The quality of speakers set the scene for a powerful weekend. The theme of the conference was Manaakitanga, and throughout the weekend we looked at the power of Manaakitanga through kindness, generosity, hospitality, support, showing respect and care for others. I can recount many times in my life whereby I have been on the receiving end of Manaakitanga. We often experience in times of trauma or adversity, during the aftermath of the earthquakes and the March 15th terrorist attack. For me, on a personal level, when undergoing a significant cancer battle that those who can exhibit these values really demonstrate their character, it is these people that are the true champions in our world. So often in modern life we feel the need to measure success whether that be sporting conquests, or NCEA achievement or material wealth. For me, I believe if we are able to foster in our young people an excitement to measure their ability to exhibit Manaakitanga. You may ask how this can be measured. I believe it is our ability to extend aroha, to help each other, to actively listen to each other. It is walking the walk and prioritising time to follow up with people that are need.

One of the highlights over the weekend was an excerpt from Mayor Lianne Dalziel, in reference to a young man who recently passed away. His thoughts were very profound, I have added them below for you to enjoy;

“Richard Simpson was a young man who received his citizenship earlier this year – he knew he was dying. Before he died, he reflected on his life and the emotional toll that March 15 had exacted on him. He wrote down his philosophy and shared it on social media. It hit a nerve that resonated across the world, and in the responses he received, he found hope for a better world. He gifted these words to his city that he loved so much: 

Put down your phone and have a real conversation, look a friend in the eye and ask them how they really are, listen to the wind blowing through the trees above. And marvel at the beauty of a vibrant sunrise, do something that takes you outside of your comfort zone to prove to you (you) are better than you though, celebrate your successes, no matter how big or how small. And carve your own path to define who you are, be spontaneous, be unpredictable and importantly, immature. Don’t be led by narcissist fools that feed on your soul, don’t be a slave to their conforming expectations, don’t overshare and become fixated with likes and follows. It’s false adulation that erodes your own self-worth. Don’t buy things just to impress others, they don’t really care. Reduce, reuse and repair when you can. Be yourself and be proud of it no matter of your orientation, because you being you is the best that you can be”.

We have had a very busy fortnight of sporting activities, we had a number of top results throughout winter tournament week, 1st V Basketball finishing 13th out of 32 teams, Junior Basketball finishing 2nd in the B Division, U14 Rugby making the final of the Hurricanes Tournament, U15 Rugby finishing 3rd in the Hurricanes final, 1st XI football 17th at A Nationals. We are proud of all teams and their results.

Last weekend our 1st V basketball were victorious in winning the U20 Canterbury competition. Finally, a huge congratulations to all players and coaches on a great finish to their season.

Our Year 7 & 8 Futsal team competed in the AIMS games in Tauranga and finished a creditable 5th against 42 teams, the boys demonstrated plenty of Manawa.

In finishing this week’s newsletter, I would like to acknowledge our staff and students for a fantastic celebration of Te Reo Maori during Kia Kaha Te Wiki O Te Reo Maori Week. The challenge and key message this week was to be brave show courage and pride in having a go at using Te Reo. I am often amazed at how New Zealand transforms and uses Te Reo during everyday language during this week, I believe it shows our identity as a nation. It is a shame that at the end of the week it disappears. When we are able to make Te Wiki O Te Reo Maori our normal rather than a week, we will then have a true identity of who we are.