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

A warm welcome back to the new school year, it is always so energising having our students back on site. This week it has been brilliant to watch our new students welcomed into our community with an emotional and rousing Powhiri. It is such an important event that is a powerful symbol of connection and legacy. Today we celebrated our first mass of the year by acknowledging the role our Year 13 students have as leaders in our school, we also celebrated our tradition of “badging” our student leaders. I have full confidence in the guardianship of our culture and special character that is in the hands of our senior students, they are a wonderful group and are very passionate about maintaining our wonderful “brotherhood”.

We have a very settled staff as we start the new year. We have three new staff members joining our team, a very warm welcome to Mark Hammett as he takes up his role as a Director of Wellbeing and High Performance. I would also like to welcome Joe Hammond who has joined our sports department with a particular strength in basketball, and finally, Vijaya Devanaboina, who has joined our team to teach Year 11 science as Jono Riddell is on study leave.

We have certainly hit the ground running, and I am sure you have some tired boys over the long weekend! This week I have had the pleasure to observe our senior students acting as Big Brothers for our younger students, to see the look on the faces of our junior students when our senior students are connecting, mentoring or more importantly being a mate has been a real highlight for me this week. As a staff we prepared for our new school year by focusing on our vision “educated hearts and educated minds” When we witness the connection between our senior and junior students I know we are educating hearts.

We are extremely proud of our NCEA results, these were released a week ago and were a fantastic reward for our students and staff as we all navigated the many challenges we encountered along the way.

Image by: Lynley Gibson

As we can see our students achieve at a very high level. When celebrating these academic results, it is important to highlight the many small moments that go towards empowering our young men to achieve. Our intentional focus on educating hearts and building relationships with our young men enables them to feel confident and resilient towards their learning. As we know young men do not have favourite subjects, they have favourite people. When we describe favourite people, we understand this means respectful, caring, and unconditional relationships. This is something, as a staff, we are constantly working towards.

I would like to acknowledge the amazing achievement of George Bassett-Smith who, as a Year 12 student, gained scholarship in Printmaking. George’s work was so remarkable it has been selected as a one of the most outstanding works across all art disciplines to be part of a national roadshow. Congratulations George, and to your teacher, Mr Daniel Seelen, we are all very proud.

I would like to ask for your prayers to wish old-boy Leni “Rocky” Taufateau a speedy recovery. Rocky is a recent old-boy who was the victim off the much-publicized assault in central Christchurch last weekend.

I wish you a wonderful Te Tiriti O Waitangi celebration, this weekend is a great opportunity to reflect on our history as a nation. It is also valuable to look through a social justice lens and ask ourselves the question are all members of our community offered the same opportunities or are there different structures that marginalise different communities within our society. As a Catholic school in the tradition of Edmund Rice it is our mission focus on the whole picture not just the part that we are in.