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

On Wednesday night we had an amazing occasion involving several hundred students coming together to support our 1st XI Football team in the Canterbury Schools Grand Final. The team prevailed in the most entertaining final, 2-1 against a fantastic opponent in Burnside High School.

I would like to congratulate our 1st XI team, captain Tom Stewart and coaches Richard Washington, Jacob Allen, and Blair Scadden. While we celebrated the victory, it was fantastic to see our students come together across age levels to sing, chant, and support each other… our Manawa alive and well.

Next week we have a variety of teams heading away for Winter tournament week. We wish you all well, travel safe, and compete with honour and Manawa. I look forward to hearing of the success upon your return.

We have had a consistent drive toward Academic excellence this year and continuing in this vein, we are going to provide the opportunity for our senior students to continue with classes during the traditional term 4 study leave. We believe our students will benefit from direct interaction with our teaching staff right through to the end of the year, helping to prepare our young men for external exams as well as further opportunities for internal assessments.

Our Year 10’s will finish their time as Year 10 students at the end of this term and start Year 11 in Term 4. This means our young men will begin a transition period into what is expected of them at NCEA Level 1 and the work output that is required. While they will continue with the same timetable and subjects, the focus will shift towards NCEA.

Today we acknowledge all those who have been affected by cancer through Daffodil Day. One in 3 New Zealanders have or will be effected by this devastating disease. On Monday at assembly I spoke to our students about my own personal story involving cancer.

Seven years ago this week, I received the news after surgery that the surgeons had found a high grade aggressive appendix tumour that had burst and spread into my gut. The prognosis wasn’t great, in fact very poor, and the journey my family and I undertook was horrific at times, both physically, mentally and emotionally.

However, after many surgeries, chemotherapy, blood transfusions, monthly iron transfusion and hyperbaric treatment, I am truly blessed to be living each day to the fullest. I was extremely fortunate to have the support of an amazing community, including our St Thomas whanau who raised a large sum of money. This enabled me to have a very invasive surgery in Sydney by a highly experienced surgeon in my type of cancer. I still believe to this day this is why I  wake up each day. I am forever indebted to this whanau and community for supporting me during this most difficult time.

This very trying experience has taught me many life lessons and I tried to pass these on to our students on Monday. When you go through an experience like this your immediate feeling is to change your life and only do the things that bring you happiness. The reality is that this is not entirely possible, you still need to work and complete the sometimes mundane day to day tasks that might not produce a huge amount of happiness. The reality is we have to do the hard stuff, this is true for all of us.

What I have tried to do post cancer, is to find the balance to search for the joy in life, namely the little moments that put a smile on your face. I explained to the boys, for me it is seeing them at the front gate at the end of the day and shaking their hands asking them about their day. For me, our young people represent the future, they are hope, they are joyful, yes, they do drive us beyond despair at times, but to me their growth, their development, their personalities, brings me great joy so many times during the week.

The biggest lesson I learnt through my cancer experience is joy is found in people, not in “things”. It is our relationships with each other, with ourselves and with God where we find the many joyful moments that give us meaning in life. I challenged our students and I challenge you to find your joyful moments each day. If you can’t find any,  look to the people in your life and you will find them in your relationships with those that matter most to you.

Steve Hart