Sunday, December 31, 2006

Good News

Good news for my many readers. I have now lifted the restriction to access for comments (I think). So comment away.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mangakirikiri Meander

Have just finished a relaxing ride down the Mangakirikiri Stream. I was out for 5 hours in total but only 3 hours of that was cycling as we had a lot of rests. Leigh came to the gate and returned as she has a lot of housework to do. Andrew, his daughters Amber and Nicole, his nephews Anthony and Tim (see the Whirinaki post) and their friends from Wellington from Florida, Winston and Jo and I carried on down the stream and the long haul home against the wind down the Pakihi and Otara Roads.

The neat thing was seeing the young fellas really enjoying the downhill single track adventure through mudholes and the 40+ creek crossings. They gave everything a go and even gave things a second and third go if they did not have a successful crossing first time up. It's an awesome ride which riders of all abilities can manage.

I didn't take my camera as last time I took a spill in the creek. Andrew took his and I hope to receive some shots to post here for your enjoyment.

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Have a great new year!

Maraenui Fishing

Friday was a great day as I was once again the weighmaster for the Maraenui Kura fishing tournament. It's a real community/whanau event which raised over $10,000 for the local kura. The amazing thing is that most people who buy a ticket don't even fish; they see it as a koha to the school and a chance to win a great spot prize.

I really enjoy the day talking with Robin and Ani Mohi and catching up with kaumatua Eric Koopu and Charlie Poihipi and the local kuia. Unfortunately, every year there is always another one missing.

Fishing went well with all prizes being claimed. The winning snapper was 2.4k as was the winning kahawai. There were at least 15 kahawai over 2kg. The winning shark was 22kg. I had a beautiful cold beer with Eric afterwards and he sent me on my way with a huge tray of beautiful venison steaks.

I dropped into Ted and Bev's new place at Maraenui, had a couple more cold beers, unloaded some of the venison and arranged to pick up their unwanted spa pool on Sunday.

Another perfect day in paradise.

Mid Life Crisis?

Despite what many other people are saying I would like to emphatically state that I do not ascribe to the belief that Kurt is having a mid life crisis. One fact, however, is that today!!!!! he turns 40!!! I am sure that this has nothing to do with the Blue Tonka Toy he bought himself for his birthday. Some of us believe that a use may be found at some time for this vehicle. In the meantime Kurt looks cool in it!!

Ra whanau ki a koe, e hoa!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tui In The Flax

Tui In The Flax
Originally uploaded by m0rehu.

This early evening view from our deck is an iconic summer image. The tui is feeding on the flax with a view of the sea behind. This shot was taken late on Christmas Day after spending it with family, eating relaxed food and tasting champagne cocktails, dessert wines, margaritas, a few thirst quenching beers and a nightcap whiskey to finish.

To see more photos taken throughout Xmas day click here.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Twas The Night Before Xmas

It's now Xmas Eve at Hanaia. Sister Janine and nephew Phillip have just arrived. Leigh is vacuuming and the house and land is in good nick after Lucy especially, Thomas, Sam and I did a big clean up this morning while Leigh was out mtbing with Shirley. We didn't get a traditional Xmas tree this year. A couple of nights ago Lucy and I went down the hill and chopped a branch off the pohutukawa which was planted on her afterbirth and have used that. It appears to be fading fast and is making the place smell funny so I took a photo last night in case it doesn't last past tomorrow.

Despite struggling with a heavy cold had a stunning day mtbing in the Whirinaki with 16 other possums. It's a 2 hour drive deep into the boondocks to arrive at Minginui, but well worth the effort. Kurt was heard to say that these were the best tracks he had ever ridden in NZ. Jacquie. Kerry and Neil did some bush walks while myself, Kurt, Lucy, Thomas, Andrew, Amber, Kerr, Tine, Brian, Michael, Hamish, Marg, Tim and Anthony all MTBed.The native bush is outstanding. All virgin natives with ancient rimu and lots of other podocarps I can't identify. Underneath there was awesome regeneration. A lot of work has gone into the tracks. While some of the climbs were tough they were all manageable. The downhills were awesome with quite a bit of sweeping corners, then some tricky tight corners, with great low jumps all on single track. We soon split into 3 groups. Kerr, Brian, Michael and Hamish were champing at the bit so we sent them on to complete the 16k circuit without stopping. The middle group of Tine, Kurt, Tim, Amber, Thomas, Tim and Anthony set off with instructions to wait at the junction of the long and short track. Lucy, Andrew and I decided to bike in sections to support Marg who proved to be a tough possum.

Groups 2 and 3 met at the junction and Thomas, Lucy and Tine decided to wait for Marg and take the short route back. They experienced some very steep downhill with Thomas claiming he was the downhill ace, tho Lucy disputed this! The rest of us headed up a steep climb and because of a little bit of luck and a very high level of geograpic skill and sense of direction on my part found the unmarked sharp turn we were meant to take. We had 6-7k of fantastic and almost-out-of-control single track downhill.

We manged that without any mishaps. I was quite impressed with Tim's fearlessness on the downhill, but I was able to put him in his place on the short, but steep uphill climbs. We gathered together at the top of Kereru Rd before the final 5 min downhill to the finish where we discovered that every one was back except for Kerr, Brian, Michael and Hamish. It soon became apparent that the only group without a teacher in it was lost. We correctly assumed they had missed the left hand turn that we had expertly found and had cycled deep into the Ureweras heading overland generally in the direction of Taupo 150km away! There was nothing for it but to eat our lunch and wait. About an hour later they turned up proud of their adventure into uncharted territory. Apparently, Kerr had a spectatular fall into a large puddle of mud. It really seemed to make Brian's day.

Marg headed off to Wanganui (before the lost boys had returned!) and we all took off. We took a spin through Minginui Village which was very depressing. We could all hear the Deliverance music and were keen not to end up down a cul-de-sac never to be seen again!

I've just discovered Flickr and I've put all of the photos from Whirinaki there. Click here to view them.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The End Is Nigh

It is now Thursday night and I'm waiting for my takeaway pizzas to be cooked before I go home. By mid afternoon tomorrow I should have finished enough to be able to take a decent break. The Timetable is done, but I've spotted a few minor things that need changing. Wahine 2 and I will wrap the staff manual tomorrow and I'll do a last tidy up. I still have one appointment to make, but I am confident that we have someone lined up. Hopefully I have also just appointed a Sportfit Co-ordinator, but he did not turn up today as promised!

I've been struggling with a sore throat and have not even thought about Xmas. The next highlight is the possums biking in the Whirinaki Forest on Saturday. Will be a big day, but will be fun. Also found an event for Easter 2007. A 3 day 295ki MTB ride from Whakatane to Taupo across country! That's us.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tired but Satisfied

Worked all day Saturday on preparing for the TOD on Monday and got home just in time to turn around and head back for the farewell of Heremaia, Marg and Adrian. I must admit I felt a little nervous about how the evening would go, but it was absolutely perfect. 75 people were superbly fed and were there to farewell these three who had made an awesome contribution to our school. It was typical OC; a sort of formal structure that just went with the flow. All three have spoken affectionately of the night and how moved they were.

Three principals of OC in the same room! The gifts were so appropriate: boat winch for Heremaia, digital camera for Marg and a waka huia and pounamu for Adrian.

On Sunday, a little worse for the wear, Kurt, Andrew and I met up with Marg's nephew Christopher and biked around the Ohiwa loop and up Browns Rd before crashing in on Marg's bacon and eggs.

An afternoon was spent on bicycle maintenance and then Lucy, Thomas and I went down to the sea for our first swim which was magnificent.

Monday was our last day together at school and any nervousness I had about how the staff session would go soon disappeared. We were dealing with the contentious issue of Restorative Justice. I am sure that the three previous days on Te Kotahitanga set the scene and the session flowed well with laughter, rigorous questions and good contributions.

We had a wonderful lunch in the Hall where we farewelled all staff who were leaving. This was quite emotional so there was lots of laughter and lots of tears. I got up to thank staff at the end
and found myself saying that I had struggled a bit this year in convincing myself that everything we were trying to do was worthwhile and that I had felt like walking away a couple of times. These thoughts were as much a surprise to me as they were to most others, but I must admit that, in hindsight, I had certainly felt like that from time to time. I also went on to say that the Te Kotahitanga experience, the farewell evening and the morning session with the staff were great reminders to me as to why everything was worthwhile.

Unfortunately my golf team that night were Mexicans so we got sossled on tequila, or quetila as Vaughan mumbled it. Unfortunately Heremaia and Hone and I then found that double whiskeys made us more enlightened and made us speak a lot of sense so we overindulged. Thankfully Leigh was there to ferry people home.

Woke up in the night with a painfully sore throat! First day of the holidays so here comes a heavy cold. Teachers might have good holidays but they spend the first week each time in bed!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Beautiful Day!

The last day of Te Kotahitanga training was a treat. There were more workshops but the highlight was Bart's talk about his journey with Te Kotahitanga. It was moving, inspirational and hopeful. It seems that there has been a very positive reponse from our staff. I had to make my farewells before the end but was able to present some wine to our awesome presenters/facilitators and to our kaiawhina, Mere.

I raced off to the PrizeGiving for Ashbrook school which was tinged with sadnes because of the death of one of their teachers, Kath, a kuia of a few of our kids. It was still a nice event, with the highlight being Lucy!!!! being announced as their Dux!!!!!

Takes after her father!!!

The school year is almost over but not time to rest yet. Quite a few hours to do tomorrow to prepare for our final staff day on Monday, our big farewell evening for Adrian, Marg and Heremaia on Saturday night, and a possum ride on Sunday which I will report on.

Te Kotahitanga

I always knew that our Te Kotahitanga training would go well led by Roimata, Hone, Tom and Eru but I have been blown away by how it has actually gone. Day 2 showed awesome progress in the understanding and thinking of the whole group and of the individuals. Feedback from people involved has been absolutely positive. Roimata, Hone, Tom ans Eru have been magnificent.

The highlight yesterday, apart from the great whanaungatanga, was the presentation of the skits at the session just before dinner. Paul's group had us in stitches with their mime, Barbara's group performed great charades, Gareth had us patting each other on the back, Scotty's group rewrote "Another Brick In The Wall, Eddie's group had us grooving to a rap, Mick's group entertained us with a magic mirrow, Karen's group impressed with an animated power point and Kurt's group entertained us with Te Kotahitanga television.

Wahine no 1 also carried out her kuia in the kitchen duties with great success.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winding Up the Year

Tuesday was an awesome day, but also a relief to have finished. Wahine no. 1 ran a great Merit Assembly. A huge range of kids were acknowledged for thei efforts. We certainly view some of them as success stories in the full knowledge that we have contributed to what they have achieved; mainly around helping them overcome personal issues and hurdles in their lives in a way that school is still a good place for them. Wahine no.1 also produced an awesome junior prize giving once again. It ran without a hitch and there was a good turn out from parents. There are some outstanding kids here!

Wahine no. 1 was so pleased with herself she poured herself into a bottle of wine and dragged a few of us with her as well! It was great sitting back and relaxing and bullshitting with the likes of Eddie and Polly, wahine 1 and 2, Marg, Adrian, Heremaia. The old time leavers (Marg, Adrian and Heremaia) put on a great shout. It was a perfect way to end a neat day.

Wednesday was a bit of a struggle for wahine no.1 but wahine no 2 had done a great job with organising the JAM kids that things ran really smoothly. The rest of us participated in Day 1 of our Te Kotahitanga training run by Roimata, Tom and Eru and supported by our facilitator Mere. It was a fast-paced day, but once again our staff were keen participants and contributed very positively.
It was days like today that go a long way to explaining why so many of our kids do do so well!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Very Knackered Monday

I don't know if it was the awesome ride from yesterday or the two solid days on reports over the weekend, but I've been a bit shagged today! Poor kids, made them come back for an assembly practice at lunchtime because they were quite unsettled. Gave me a chance to have a friendly chat about the important things.

After completing the reports last night I went around to visit Kurt (fellow possum who wimped out of Sunday's ride!) to discover he is having a mid-life crisis as he flew to Taranaki and drove back in a landrover that he bought down there. It's a blue tonka toy and I will attempt to sneak a photo and post later.

Almost-ex possum Scotty the mad dog was absent from action on Sunday as well.

Couldn't help but add some more photos from the ride.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reports and MTB Adventure

I was quite pleased with myself on Saturday as I biked into school (against the wind) and completed 140 reports - all of the Year 9s and A-C of the Year 10s. I then biked all the way home (against the wind!).

It is now Sunday 1.40pm and I still have the rest of the Year 10 reports to do! Why am I starting so late? Because the possums have just done a brilliant but brutal MTB ride. Myself, Lea, Andy and 2 new applicants (Brian and his son Michael) biked up Amokura Rd (new world record of 38 minutes to the top of the big grind) and then came down Upper Paerata Rd and this time took the correct turn and ended up on Paerata Rd after some awesome but scary, on the edge of out of control downhill. We were out for 4 1/4 hours but my total biking time was 2 3/4 hours as I had to do a lot of waiting for the others! Not really, but we had a long stop at the trig because of the awesome views - and because we were tired!

Lea was a wimp and grizzled about her brakes all the way (who needs brakes?) and then walked down!?* an awesome downhill after seeing Brian falling off 1/3 of the way down and his bike carrying on for another 1/3! Michael rode strongly but we broke him in the end and the old mountain goat Andrew just kept plugging on. An awesome ride! All of the photos can be viewed by clicking here!

But time for reports!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Clearance Day

Spent the first hour at school helping students with their clearance for the year. It's the last event for Year 13s and for years 11 and 12 it is a chance for them to see how their subject choices have panned out in the timetable. Several have clashes to resolve. Our timetabler, Roy, will now react to the concerns and tutu further with the timetable.

A highlight of today is issuing the magazine. It arrived from the printers 30 minutes before clearance began! It is an outstanding magazine. Marion and Kate who stepped in late to pick the magazine up have done a wonderful job with the ITiaki students. I am really looking forward to them doing the job from the start of next year.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Does anybody know how to change the clock or date on these blogs? Must be on US time so I type in one day and it says it's the day before! Never mind.

I have not fully recovered from last night's brutal ride. Been coughing and spluttering all day. Time was about 25 30 which is great considering how long it has been and the strong wind!

Had a great 3 hour meeting with the team from Kawerau and Bill from Whakatane. I don't know if their idea of fun is being shut in a room with me for 3 hours while I spout on about restorative justice, values and our JAM programme, but I had a great time!

Managed to finalise my budget for next year and confirm asset, minor equipment, minor property, furniture and equipment, STAR, software and computer network expenditure for next year. We plan to operate with a deficit of $50,000 because we have committed that amount from funds to go towards the Tech Block refurbishment and my budget came out with a deficit of $49,849! Not much room left to move!

I am about to go out to the Kapa Haka end of year dinner which will be quite pleasant, though I am very tired at the moment. Head to Auckland tomorrow evening because Sam (son) has an appointment at Starship for his scoliosis. Check out the link to his blog to see Xray pictures and track how he is feelling about it all.

280 junior reports will be waiting for me to read and comment on when I return and they have to be done before the end of the weekend!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Life in The Fast Lane!

The day started with an 8.00am meeting with Phil the architect to go over the refurbished Tech Block and look at plans for the revamped Science Lab and English Resource Room. Had to cancel my physio appointment which is not a big concern as I have been going for quite a few months and I still feel like a broken down old man. The bonus was Phil shouted me a coffee and Jack from the Hot Bread Shop invited me to a party! Had a great meeting with Lynda and wahine number 1 discussing the enormous success we have had in reducing drug offending this year. Our particular programme of Lynda's group counselling based on Smashed n Stoned, the contract and the random drug testing has had great results; the most important being the atmosphere of honesty that now exists which has led to several students self-referring. Only 29 students infringed this year compared with 45 in 2003, 39 in 2004 and 72 in 2005. The most profound impact has been on the reduction of repeat offending down to 2 from 15 in 2003, 7 in 2004 and 13 in 2005!

Headboy from 2002, Jed, dropped in at the end of the day and caught up with me. He has just completed his 4th year at medical school and has offered to talk to our students and/or support any student thinking of studying health sciences.

Had a great meeting with the two wahines and Hone after school for 90 minutes reviewing the way in which we have used restorative principles to manage classroom behaviour issues and the fine tuning of the procedures for 2007. It has been an exhilirating journey, but we've left some passengers behind: some never got on the train and some have tried to jump off as we slowed on some of the bends!

I've just got back in from the Tuesday night cycle time trial that is held in town which now has 96 registrations. 47 brave souls took on the howling gale tonight. Not sure of my time but I think I did quite well. Started with Roger who didn't drop me until Hospital Hill (after letting me lead most of the way!!). Really suffered from oxygen debt at the end. Lots of groaning, dry retching and ripped-raw throat! Wahine no. 2 cried off tonight and biked to Maraenui instead, and Kurt and Scott whimped out because they had been cycling with kids today as part of Outdoor Ed.

Looking forward to tomorrow as I am hosting visitors from 2 other schools who want to look at some of our interesting programmes. I always like skiting!!

Blue Mountain Heaven

Got up at 5.45 on Sunday for a big plate of porridge and to put the coffee on. Leigh managed to get up in time and Andrew, Kurt and Margaret duly arrived. At 7.30, only 1/2 an hour late we were on our MTBs heading for the Blue Mountains. It was a very cold start but the day looked as if it was going to be a warm one. Once we'd climbed the 12 k to the start of the track it was heaven. An hour of single track, slightly downhill with over 40 creek crossings was our treat before the 15k road slog home into the wind. We all had a fall into the creek, apart from Leigh. Margaret really impressed making a couple of successful crossings without getting off; after all she is our most senior member. Kurt had a dramatic spill in front of me, sailing over his handlebars and into a muddy puddle! It's a wonderful ride. Andrew sprung a surprise and revealed he was carrying some cash so we had a coffee and muffin at the Hot Bread Shop! Leigh and I then punched our way home into the wind.

To top off a perfect day Kurt, Lucy and I went fishing in Blakes and caught a nice kahawai for the smoker. It was great to be able to share this with the staff for lunch today.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Sad Saturday

After a couple of beers last night I was a bit reluctant getting up this morning to take Saturday school, but I managed to be there by 9.00am. 4 of the seven turned up which means 3 will be getting grim news on Monday! Eventhough this is a punishment (they had been dodging) the kids are good natured and take the opportunity to complete a lot of work. They all reckon they will never dodge again (yeah, yeah!). Marg delivered me a coffee part way through and left a muffin for me to have at the end. She is also leaving at the end of this year after 30 years at our school and will be sorely missed. Leigh was in Whakatane buying Marg's present today.

As soon as Saturday school finished a group of us staff headed up to Waioweka for Ernie's tangi. Debbie joined us and it was great to hear she was honoured with a commitment to sport award at the BOP sports awards last night. Thoroughly deserved as she has been providing a huge range of sporting opportunities for our kids for many years.

After an hour's wait at the marae we went on to farewell Ernie. It's always quite nerve wracking having to whaikorero at such occasions, but I have had some awesome tutors over the years. Initially it was Tawhiro who, unfortunately, has passed away and more recently it has been Heremaia whom I have listened to carefully while sitting on the pae and have learned a great deal from. He too is leaving at the end of the year after 45 years teaching. He bought his own present which we will give to him at the farewells. Hone has rejoined our staff and is now my current whaikorero and tikanga mentor. Heremaia, myself and Hone spoke for our roopu on the marae.

I got home around 3.00pm and weeded the last of the trees growing on my bank at home. I then spent a relaxing hour drinking coffee in the sun and reading the paper. Then cooked a beauty curry and watched the army helicoptors completing an exercise above Opotiki.

Really looking forward to our Blue Mountains ride tomorrow. Might even get a fish in tomorrow afternoon!

First Day of Summer

Friday was a great day. 16 staff started off with three hours of AsTTle training and I snuck off with one of the wahine to buy a present for one of our long-serving staff members - 37 years of teaching at our school! We had to buy a great coffee at the 2Fish while the present was being wrapped! He'll love the gift. Then had what I thought was going to be a difficult meeting with 2 staff members who have to work together but were finding it difficult to get along. With the support of wahine number 1 I feel we made great progress. Thankfully it was quite a non-eventful afternoon and I was able to finalise my ancillary staffing for next year. We get $105,000.00 to staff teacher aids for special needs students but I need to spend $117,000.00 to employ those that I need. It doesn't compute! Just as the day ended we heard that Ernie Hopa had died after a bit of a battle with cancer. He made an outstanding contribution to education in our region. After a couple of quick beers with some staff I headed home for a coffee because I had the Year 13 end of year party to go to. Went out to the Year 13 party at Hamish's with a bit of reluctance but once there really enjoyed it. Got Leigh and Sam to pick me up at about 11.30.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Where Did The Day Go?

Quite a full-on day today despite only juniors at school. The wahine did a lot of good work this morning mopping up the reluctanr participants for Year 10 Outdoor Ed next week. I met with the man from the ministry and was able to skite about our huge success in reducing suspensions from 64 in 2002 to 1 in 2006. This was followed by a lengthy meeting in two parts with my Network Manager to finalise budget requests for next year. We're moving closer to a 1GB backbone for the whole school! We had to break in the middle while I conducted a summative appraisal meeting for one of my staff which was very positive. Unfortunately, these meetings went most of the way through lunchtime as well so I missed the Bilingual Unit farewell luncheon for Heremaia. Immediately after lunch I booked 5 kids in for Saturday School after they were found dodging underneath a classroom! I now had the first piece of time in the day to try to tick off some of the tasks for the day. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of checking my emails so that was 15 minutes gone! I then met with a contributing Primary Principal and a visiting principal to outline the restorative approach we were attempting at our school. A newly appointed staff member had arrived around lunchtime and after he had met with departmental staff and checked out a school flat available I was able to catch up with him before he headed home. I then had a coffee with one of the wahine and went to start on the tasks for the day and discovered it was 6.00pm! so I thought I would go home. The tasks will have to wait for tomorrow's day in paradise! Looking forward to the Possum's MTB ride in the Blue Mountains on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Orientation Day

Today was Orientation Day for the Year 8 students from our contributing schools who have enrolled here for their secondary schooling. Our day started magnificently on our Marae in front of Kura-ki-Uta with Mana, myself and Eddie speaking. All 121 students and their teachers and some parents then hongied and greeted all staff members. The students then spent the day with their tutor teachers being tested and familiarising themselves with the school.

At the same time our Year 9 and 10 students have been out in the community on workday raising funds for new picnic tables for the students.