16 April

16 April 2021

He toka tū moana

(As durable as a rock pounded by the surf)

Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa

Term 1 has now ended and winter is approaching.  It feels like only a few weeks ago that I was writing my first newsletter for the year and my focus was on optimism. We achieved a lot and I would like to invite you to review some of these highlights at our Term-in-Review page which can be found at,

Term One in Review

Despite my optimism, we did have a lot of sadness as well.  Kevin Hatley our former Head of Learning Support for many years passed away.  More recently, we lost Year 9 student Madoc Benfell to a sudden death incident.  Madoc’s life was celebrated at a service in Old St Paul’s and I would like to thank our Kapa haka group who supported the family/whānau and kura with beautiful waiata and an extremely stirring performance of E Tū Kia Mārō, the school’s haka. Our thoughts and condolences go to Madoc’s family.

Next term we have a lot of events and activities happening in the College. Winter sport is about to begin, the Premier netballers start in the last week of the holidays. The production Shrek is scheduled to start on May 31, the Big Sing is the week later and the Kapa haka regionals are also scheduled. We also have exciting activities like the School Ball, which will again be held at Te Papa on June 12, and a wide range of other student led opportunities.  Of course, there will still be plenty of teaching and learning going on, and our students will be starting to get a real sense of how their progress towards NCEA is going.

Over the years, we have had students attend the Cullen breakfasts where they can hear from all sorts of interesting guest speakers.  Yesterday our Head Students, Samantha Smith and George Shamon, along with Deputy Principal, Deb Mills were invited to hear Chris Hipkins, the Minister for Education, Public Service and COVID-19 Response.  Minister Hipkins spoke at length about the science of COVID-19, how we as a country have managed it so far, and how the rollout of vaccinations is progressing.  I sense that the students learned much more than they already knew.

ANZAC Day, April 25 falls in the holidays this year.  As usual we will be involved in the Johnsonville ceremony.  Our senior students will be laying a wreath and presenting a reading of Flanders Field.  The ceremony starts outside the Johnsonville Salvation Army at 10am.  You may wish to join us.

Next term we will also be starting our building programme.  Please be aware that the first project involves replacing the roof on the hall.  We have organised it in such a way that it will not affect the school production but we will be losing 35 carparks.  This will put extreme pressure on parking the school. Please do not come down the drive unless it is an emergency, and I know that Bracken Road is going to be much more congested than usual.

I wish you all a good break.

Ngā mihi nui

Grant Jones

26 March

26 March 2021

Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa

“Kua   hinga    te    Totara

I  te  wao  nui  a Tane

(The Totora has fallen in the forest of Tane)

I have chosen the above whakatauki as I used it as part of the eulogy I delivered at the funeral of Kevin Hatley.  Kevin was a long serving member of our staff and was the Head of our Learning Support Faculty from 1989 – 2012.  During that time, Kevin worked extremely hard for many students who faced disadvantages and he made a significant impact on their learning and lives in general. Kevin passed after a long illness; he was only 67!

The end of term is almost upon us and there are only 12 teaching days to go.  We have managed to achieve a lot so far, and there are many highlights. Some of these include:

  • New Year 9 students Cyrus Dahl received a Wellys award for philanthropy from the Nikau Foundation. Cyrus raised over $43 000 so that students with disabilities could access to the swings at Tawhai Raunui Play Area in Woodridge. Cyrus did this by appearing on morning television, and setting up a give a little page after the WCC said they had no funding available.
  • Our Year 13 Geography students successfully spent four days up in the Mt Tongariro region undertaking fieldwork. Part of their course examines volcanic processes.
  • At the same time, we also had our first group of Level 3 Physical Education students undertake their studies in the Marlborough Sounds. They were exploring the region using kayaks and the weather has been outstanding.
  • Our 1st XI played their last league game of the season against St Pats Town 2nd XI. St Pats would probably have been very satisfied with their total of 318 from 50 overs. However, our opening batsmen Matthew Nel and Raash Mukherjee had other ideas. They produced a fantastic opening partnership of 320 runs to win the game on their own. Mathew scored what we believe to be the 3rd best score in Newlands history of 171 not out. The next highest scores of 180 and 206 were scored way back in 1992 & 1990 respectively.
  • Western Zone Athletics 2021

This year’s delayed Western Zone Athletics finally took place last Tuesday (16 March). Newlands sent 14 students already involved in club athletics or regular training. Stand out performances on the day, which have led to qualification for the Regional championships on March 30, were:

Holly Robins (Y9) – 1st 70m hurdles, 3rd – High Jump and Long Jump

Cara McCully (Y10) – 1st Intermediate Discus, 2nd 80m Hurdles, 3rd Shot Put

Ryan Lobo (Y9) – 1st 800M & 1500M

As mentioned in earlier newsletters there are significant changes to NCEA coming up.  These are currently being ‘rolled out’ and schools are being asked to discuss these with their staff and provide feedback.  Last year COVID-19 affected this process, so this year the Ministry of Education has provided three Teacher-Only-Days to do this work.  These are mandated and all secondary schools in New Zealand will be involved.

Our days for 2021 are:

  • 11 May
  • 5 August
  • 1 December.

A reminder that our on-line Parent Teacher Interviews will be held on Wednesday 7th April and Wednesday13th April. These will begin at 2pm and more information regarding the format and bookings will be available next week.  Students will be released to go home at 1pm.  However, the Learning Support Centre will operate as normal, finishing at 3:10pm. The taxis will also operate at the usual time.

Ngā mihi nui

Grant Jones

6 March 2021

6 March 2021

Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa

Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou

(Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing)


This whakatauki refers to the importance of learning for it is key to your well-being. If you follow the path of learning, the world will be your oyster.

In the last newsletter, I wrote about optimism and my hopes for this year.  Not long after, we had the COVID-19 Alert Levels raised.  Not what I had hoped for, and I certainly feel for my colleagues in Auckland schools.  Although the change was for a week, we did feel the impact. Our parents who normally attend our Academic Excellence awards assembly were unable to, dragon boating was postponed, several sports events lost their crowds and students travelling on public buses were required to wear facemasks.  The good news is that with no community cases being reported in the last few days, maybe we will see the lowering of the levels shortly.

Leadership for students is one of the aspects of our school life that is valued highly.  Over any given year students have the opportunities to promote and lead a wide range of activities ranging from academic, to sport, art, music and drama, well-being and the promotion of the school values.  This year we went through the process of students standing for elected positions, voting by students, voting by staff and interviews and I am pleased to announce our Student Executive for 2021.

Head Girl

Samantha Smith

Head Boy

George Shamon

Academic Captain

Laura Stone

Arts Captain

Rose Aldridge

Sports & Active Recreation Captain

Eve Bayliss

Well-being Captain

Paige Fairless

Kowhai House Captain

Georgia Lincoln

Matai House Captain

Corey Whitelaw

Rimu House Captain

Brayden Puketapu

Totara House Captain

Chelsea Reid

Komiti Māori

Paige Puketapu

Komiti Pasifika



International Student Representative

John Zhang

BOT Representative

Joshua Taefu


As mentioned each year we hold an assembly to present Excellence badges to those who gained an Excellence endorsement for NCEA.  To be eligible students normally need to have at least 50 credits at the excellence level, although this was reduced to 42 last year because of the impact of COVID -19. This meant that 40% of our Level 1 students were endorsed with Excellence (nationally 20%) for Level1 and Level 2, 20% (nationally 17%). Also pleasing was that 80% of Level 1 students got either an Excellence or a Merit endorsement (nationally 52%) and for Level 2 49%, (nationally 42%).

Last Friday was one of the traditional highlights in the school calendar year, the Tabloids.  A mix between fancy dress, unusual physical activities, and an inter-house competition it is always a great day.  This year the day started out under a typical Newlands fog, which quickly burned off into a glorious late summer’s day. At the conclusion of the relays, Totara House won the competition, which had been close.

In previous newsletters, I have commented on property developments that occurring at the school.  It is planned that by the end of July the staff room will be extensively rebuilt.  Part of this work will include the development of a guidance centre that will accommodate, Deans, Guidance Counsellors, Careers Counsellors, and Learning Support Co-ordinators.

In the middle of next year, the Library will be demolished along with two science labs.  It is planned to rebuild the library along with 4 science labs, 10 classrooms and an auditorium.

Also starting at the end of the term is extensive re-roofing of the school, which includes the hall, part of the Technology Block, as well taking the back wall of the Gym. AS you can imagine there is a lot of disruption to manage and we will be working hard to keep it to a minimum for our staff and students.

During this process, we will be losing our carpark, so the staff will be parking on the bottom field.  There will be no other carparks available, so if you need to visit the school, please park up on the road as the congestion is going to be significant.

We are also about to publish our first Me Whakamātau Reports.  An email will be sent to you advising when they are available.

Ngā mihi nui

Grant Jones

11 February 2021

Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa

He ua ki te

He paewai ki ao

(Rain at night eels in the morning)

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the students and their whānau as we begin the 2021 school year.  A special welcome to all our new Year 9s, over 250 of you and other students who have arrived at our school for the first time.

I used the above whakataukī because I interpret this as optomism.  After last year, a year in which COVID-19 was so challenging and disruptive, then I would like to think that this year can only be better.  Certainly we hope to provide the wide range of experiences through our learning programmes, co-curricular activity, and leadership opportunities that we usually do, but it is my hope that we will be able to improve on some of these through what we learned during lockdown.

At the start of the year, we received our preliminary NCEA results and while we do not get the final results for a couple of months, I am extremely pleased how successful the students were. The table will give you some idea.

As a reminder, any student who has been in the school for 70 days is counted in the data.  Also students if they identify with more than one ethnicity are counted in each of their chosen identities with up to three choices. The data includes students who have not yet engaged with Level 1 on the curriculum (NCEA Level 1 is Level 6 on the curriculum) and students who left during the year.

NCEA Results (%)


Newlands College Mean

National Mean

Level 1



Level 2



Level 3



University Entrance



Also of note is that our Pasifika and Māori students did extremely well, although in some cases using percentages can be misleading as the groups of students are small in numbers. For this reason, I have not included all the data. National means are in brackets:

Māori Level 1 85% (58%) Level 2 88% (70%) Level 3 77% (59%)

Pacific People, Level 1 92% (66%) Level 2% 67% (75%) Level 3 89% (67%)

Other academic results include Scholarship.  This year we gained 13 Scholarships, with Brandon Ru, our Dux, gaining two Outstanding Scholarships and 4 Scholarships. This earned Brandon an Outstanding Scholar Award, which will provide him with $5000 per year for 3 years for his University studies.  An incredible effort!

For families that are new to our school the ways that we communicate with you are very important. Communications, such as the Principal’s newsletter are provided on the website every two to three weeks, and we advise parents of them by e-mail. In addition, Parents and Caregivers can find important information specific to their own student(s) through the Parent Portal. This information will include attendance, timetable, invoicing, and personal details. The students' progress is also reported through the portal, subject by subject as significant pieces of work are completed. In this way, you will receive regular feedback. All students will also receive a Me Whakamātau Report. This will replace the engagement report that we have used in the past.  It will be posted on a regular basis and more details will be provided shortly. The portal is password protected and you should have received your password by now. If you have any difficulties with your password, please contact my P.A. Fei Gao at [email protected].

Student involvement in the wider life of the school is already well underway.  Our cricket teams have begun their competition, the dragon boat teams are training hard, auditions for the school production Shrek are continuing on from last year and the elections of our Student Executive are underway.

As in past years, we took our Year 9 students and their Year 13 Peer Support Leaders away to Camp at the start of the year. It was the biggest camp ever with over 300 students involved. The weather was outstanding and our students got involved in all manner of activities, swimming, a beach hikoi, the water slide and initiative activities. Everyone had a great time and the students made many new friends before their classes started.

The new students were formally welcomed to the school on the following Tuesday with a Powhiri.  This year we tried as much as possible to have the whole school involved although it had to be held in the hall instead of outside in front of our wharekura, Te Ao Marama, because of the weather. Things were quite cramped but there was lots of powerful singing and the haka made a significant statement to the new students that we welcomed.

I will keep you informed of what is happening in the college as the year progresses, please regularly check the website and the Parent Portal as there is a lot happening this term.

Ngā mihi nui

Grant Jones

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