Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Student teachers

The above article shows just how beneficial teaching others can be for your own understanding. At the moment some students have been consolidating their understanding of different writing skills and planning a lesson to teach some of their classmates the skill.

So far Lola and Antony have each run a lesson with 3 students on personification. Well done guys! You had a good clear understanding of personification and taught your classmates in a really clear way.

I look forward to more students being teachers!


The Te Pahu Landcare group kindly donated some plants to the school. The seniors got to plant them along the fence line below the courts. It is great to be a part of something that will be here for generations.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


If NZ's prime-minister walked into room 7 I would shake his hand and say hi. If anyone entered our room I would give them the same greeting. Most cultures in the world are not like that. Most cultures in the world have different vocabulary and processes for greeting people of different standing, age, or gender. Today we looked at the Maori powhiri. The ceremony used by Maori to welcome someone or a group of people.

Traditionally when a group approached a marae the visit would have been unexpected and the tangata whenua (hosts) would not know if the manuhiri (visitors) were going to attack them or whether they friendly. The powhiri was used to establish if the manuhiri were friend or foe. Once this was found out then the tangata whenua would formally welcome them, establish their connections with each other, and eventually breathe the same air (hongi - pressing of noses).

The powhiri was and is a powerful way of making people feel welcome. 'Whanaungatanga' (A sense of belonging) and 'Manaakitanga' (the ability to show love and make people feel welcome) are guiding values in the powhiri.

Here is a video of a powhiri. It is in English so we get a sense of what is said during a powhiri.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Maori Language Week

It is Maori language week and we have started off by looking at why it is important for ALL children (Maori, European, and other cultures) to learn Te Reo. Maori culture is part of our identity as New Zealanders. We are all richer if we understand our shared history and shared identity. We also looked at how knowledge about a language and culture develops further pride in it as part of our identity.

We also looked at the haka, its origins and the different purposes of them.

We will be looking at some key Maori terms such as 'Mana' that are not easily translated into a single English word. We will also look at 'Whanaungatanga' (A sense of belonging) and 'Manaakitanga' (the ability to show love and make people feel welcome). We will also spend time on vowel sounds and common blends with a focus on pronouncing place names correctly.

Here are a few videos we are using to help us:

Friday, 8 September 2017

The piano - Creative writing

Here are a few sections taken from a few of our students' creative writing. Well done guys - some outstanding writing!

Ieuan - ...Hiding behind a tree I hear a strange sound, a melodic sound of pain and sorrow, heartache and loss. Moving out from behind the tree I see it. In the middle of no man’s land stands a piano with a soldier playing it. His fingers weave a tale of sadness that could never be described. The screams of jets and bang of bullets dissipated in this melodic moment. ...

Finn - ...The tune was soft, like grass on a summers day. It filled me with warmth, making my mind drift back to my childhood. The melody carried itself through the trees, causing soldiers to look up in confusion. He ignored them, and continued to play. His fingers were long and swift, like a magician, whizzing across the keys at a perfect pace. When his song stopped, it seemed all war had stopped. It was silent...

Sean - The smell of smoke was thick in the cool morning air. For a moment every thing seemed peaceful, but like many other mornings before it would not last. ... ...The gunfire began to sound again. I ran as fast as I could to the safety of my dugout. But then I heard something sweet and majestic, it was drawing me I could not stop my legs from walking to the song. Slowly I broke into a run and there it was a solitary piano in the middle of a single square of ground. ...

Sydney - ...The gust of wind made the trees shiver as if they are alive. I went around one of the trees… There one of the Russian soldiers was standing right next to a piano. I had a clear shot. But something stopped me. I was curious about what he was going to do. I waited. Then he started to play. The piece was familiar....

Jack E - ...Paths made by tears on his ash stricken face snake out like tree roots. His eyes red from crying. Suddenly he reaches out and hugs me with his bloody arms, sobbing into my now wet shoulder....

Tabitha - The distant crackle of gunfire and whistling bullets over ride my eardrums. I advance, careful to step in only the steps of my fellow soldiers. Feeling depressed about the situation I'm in, I abandon the group for a while, mental health break, as my friends call it.  Trudging through the piled snow, I am finally able to inhale lungfuls of better-than-on-the-battlegrounds air. It's silent. But only for a second.... ... The sight before me is the polar opposite of what I would've expected. A Nazi soldier playing a beautiful Beethoven piece. Listening intently, I creep closer....

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Dirty Beards and Ugly Feet

We had an entertaining literacy session with lots of screwed up faces and disgusted children. We listened to and read the opening chapter of Roald Dahl's The Twits. Roald Dahl gives a grotty description of men with beards. We discussed strategies he used to get the disgust reaction from his readers. This included contrast, vocabulary, specific detail, and examples. The students then had a go at getting a disgust reaction by using these strategies in some of their own writing. Their prompt was the photo below of ugly feet.

Here are a few sentences pulled out from their descriptions:

Tabitha - Curling over and under, wrinkly and cracked, toes no one ever wants to come across. 

KiranHe has abnormally long and crooked toes that don’t fit into his socks. So to solve that he cuts holes in his socks so all you see is his long mangled toes sticking out.

Cameron - Mr. Stout had warts mounted on every joint of his vile dried up toes. His repulsive rectangular toenails clung upon the sea of dry skin of which he called toes. ...Mr Stout never really seemed to mind just how beastly his feet were, but anyone who came near him would be greeted by a nauseating smell ...

Campbell -  If you look closely (Though I’m not sure you’d want to) then you can see things like dirt, dust, and dead insects jammed up her toenails. 

Jack K - He was no ordinary kid. His feet were rough, green, one toe folded in and another toe stuck out.

Te Pahu Challenge - SNOW

We had a perfect day at Whakapapa on Monday. Perfect in in every way - plenty of sun and plenty of fun. My highlight was seeing the first timers go from, lets say, less than capable, to skiers and boarders who could quite confidently get down the slopes. I know it required perseverance guys and I am so glad you did as your reaped the rewards. Some of you picked it up so naturally and progressed heaps in one day. I imagine for some of you this would have been the first day of many to come. I am looking forward to your reflections on your blogs and what tips you would give to others learning to ski or board.

Crashes of the day would have to go to Stephanie and Deegan.

'Most cruel to the teacher award' goes to Lola for the amount of snow I received down my back and in my face. The shot of the day does have to go to Zane though with a perfect one while I had my mouth open.

'Caught snoozing on the snow award' goes to Josh!

Straight-line speedster would have to be Balii and Deegan.

The most 'in control-out of control-in control' award goes to Cameron.

The 'where's my ski' award goes to Zachary.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Descriptive writing

We have been learning to use language features in our writing. We have looked at a some examples of similes and metaphors. We have also been looking at carefully selecting senses that will effectively take a reader to the setting. We read this description from the Wizard of OZ and the students wrote a similar description on one of the above photos.

Here are a few sentences from their descriptions.

Antony(Desert) -   The fiery sphere in the sky brings a yellow glow like a candle in a dark room.

Bonnie (Snow) - Up ahead the clearing was filled with radiating golden light. Pine trees topped with snow, glistened in the early morning glow. Hard ice crunched underfoot as I walked. Long tree limbs reached down to me as I ambled underneath them. Every now and then there was a small thud as a pile of snow tumbled off a branch, and hit the soft ground below.

Finn (Desert) - Scorching wind scratched across my damaged lips as I trudged through the barren wasteland. The ground cracked beneath me, making my walking jagged and uneven. Sun rays cast a orange glow to the looming mountain ahead, making the land seem tinged with orange fire.

Lola (Snow) - Withering pines stoop over the blanketed ground, like an old woman, all hunched over.

Jack E (Snow) - The last smear of light disappears behind the snow covered branches.

Ewan (Forest) - The forest was doused with an everlasting shower of rain. 

Ieuan (Desert) - I can taste sand in my mouth a gritty stoney mixture of glass and rock I spit out as much as I can and move on.

Te Pahu School electricity generation?

The students are currently doing the below project in pairs. They are looking at whether solar or wind power could be a possibility at Te Pahu school. We have explored how many kilowatts the school uses and how much it costs per year. We are looking to reduce that cost.

So some students are researching maximum and average wind speeds in Te Pahu, different wind turbines and their kilowatts per hour capacity, prices, possible locations, and maintenance costs. Other students are identifying the premium roof angles and locations to harness the most solar energy. They are also looking into the prices and kilowatt production of different solar systems available here in NZ.

There is loads of learning going on in many areas including maths, science, and literacy. I am really looking forward to the results.

A moral and ethics discussion

We had a fascinating ethics discussion around animals, food, and animal testing.

We discussed the statement - Would it be justifiable to whip pigs to death if it produced better tasting pork? This elicited some strong responses from students and led to some great discussion around treatment of animals. We discussed if we hold the same view for all animals, including flies and ants. It was interesting to look at peoples reasons for their opinions.

We learnt the term 'devils advocate' which means to argue the opposite position in a debate to get people to think carefully through their opinions. I played this role in our discussion.

We then watched the below animation and discussed animal testing and if, or when, it is OK. We also discussed how life could be different now if animal testing had never been allowed.

An interesting follow up question would be Will different cultures have different opinions on animal ethics? Why?

Champion Orators!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017


Well done Ruma Kokako. You can ALL be really proud of what you produced in your speech this year. I was really impressed by the quality of writing and the depth of thought that went into your topics. Some of you have a real natural stage presence and confidence in public speaking (Even if you don't feel confident). It was a real challenge choosing who would go through to the finals which is a real testament to how well you all did. It was so good to see how encouraging you were of each other too which shows real maturity.

Here are the results from the finals:

Year 7
1st - Josiah
2nd - Deegan
3rd - Sydney and Jack E

Year 8 
1st - Ieuan
2nd - Cameron
3rd - Jorja
Highly Commended - Kiran

Friday, 25 August 2017

The world of refugees

The class got a powerful insight into the lives of refugees yesterday. We watched a documentary of two people who went and lived for a month in a Jordanian refugee camp for Syrian refugees. They got to hear the stories of people who had to flee Syria. It was emotional hearing about the hardships that adults and children had to live through. It was striking how friendly and accepting the refugees were of the two Americans. On the last day they were all discussing together how they were from completely different cultures, but after they had spent time together they could see how similar they were.

We had a great discussion afterwards which was centered around the long term consequences for refugees as well as how lucky we are in NZ. The average length of time people are in refugee camps is 17 years.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Waikato Science Fair

A massive congratulations to all those who entered the Waikato Science Fair. We had 8 boards entered and all students can be proud of the quality of their entry.

A special congratulations goes to 6 students who received awards. You worked hard on these guys and deserve the results you got. Well done Te Pahu School.

Parents - Can you do it?

In maths we have been covering a variety of things but most students have a particular focus on geometry. We have done lots on area, perimeter, and volume.  Here are a couple of worksheets some students have been working on. Can you solve the problems? Ask your child if they can explain how to do it.

A number of students have been working with scale (Map scales, scale models, etc). They are currently drawing a scale floor plan of our classroom. They have to identify an appropriate scale and carefully measure angles on their drawing. They then have to identify the exact area of carpet and lino required for our floor.

Other students have been learning about equivalent fractions (fractions of equal value) and converting fractions to decimals. Parents make sure you ask your children to show you an example of what they have been learning.

Saturday, 19 August 2017


Well done Declan, Cameron and Emma! Second in the regional BandQuest competition and Best Original Lyrics! Such an outstanding result. You can be very proud. They played two original songs and competed against 15 other bands. Your music was tight and and you looked so confident playing it. There were lots of Te Pahu supporters (Including some previous BandQuest veterans!) and we all felt so proud of you. Congratulations to Bevan as well who supported them along the way.

Here are some photos and a video of a few sections of their performance.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Cross country

Well done Ruma Kokako! It was so good to see you all push yourselves today. Some of you have put a massive effort into training for this and you can be proud. It is times like this, when you really push yourself, that you realise just what you are capable of. Well done!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Electric motor!

We did a neat little experiment today which created a motor out of a magnet, battery, and copper wire. 

The magnet affects the electrical circuit created by the copper wire making the copper wire spin.

It is similar to the first motor created. The relationship between electricity and magnetism was first realised through an experiment which sent a current through some wire (which sat in mercury) around a magnet. The result was a wire that spun around a magnet.

Another experiment using similar concepts and equipment is the below train.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Electricity - light bulbs, conductors, insulators, and the nervous system

A world without electric light would be a very different world. It was fascinating to look into the creation of light bulbs and how they work. It was interesting to discover that Thomas Edison is not the only person who should be given credit for it. Joseph Swan also played a significant role.

How a light bulb works: Electricity travels through a wire into the bulb but it reaches a part where it has to travel through a filament. The filament resists the flow of electrons and so all the extra work it has to do starts to heat the filament up and it starts glowing - light.

We have also been looking at conductors and insulators. All materials in the world can be classified as insulators or conductors. A conductor allows electricity to flow easily as its electrons are not bound to the protons as tightly. Metals are good conductors, especially copper, gold, and silver. An insulator restricts the flow of electricity. Glass, plastic, and rubber are common insulators.

We created circuits to illuminate a light bulb and then interrupted the circuits with different objects to discover which objects were insulators and which were conductors. We discovered that generally the conductors were metals and other objects were insulators.

The bodies electricity: Another fascinating discussion we had was around our bodies and electricity. It all started with the question of why we use a defibrillator to shock someone. You wouldn't be reading this if it wasn't for electricity. Our bodies use electricity to operate.  Every message your brain sends is using electricity. The nervous system is what carries the messages. A part of the heart creates electricity to cause the heart to pump.

We are discovering more and more just how central electricity is to our world and existence.

Friday, 28 July 2017


Speeches are one of those things some people love and many people dread! It takes a lot of courage to push past the fear and be the focus of attention for a few minutes. I know a number of you will be really nervous and will have lots of butterflies in our stomachs before you speak. Nerves are completely OK and we just need to get the butterflies to fly in formation. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

We have been looking at the content of our speeches and will soon look at the delivery. We are doing persuasive speeches and have been discussing the importance of both emotional and rational arguments. A good speech gets both the emotions and the mind going. We have watched and read some high quality speeches and discuss why they are powerful.

The students have been selecting their topics and I am really excited about them. There are some really important messages that people do need to hear. If you put the effort in I am sure you guys will produce some awesome speeches.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Sweet Sweet Honey

Since Finn was sick at the end of last term he wasn't able to complete his Science Fair project. He did complete it over the holidays though. He did a fascinating project on whether honey can help preserve food. He coated some food in honey and compared the mould growth to the same food without the honey. The honey definitely inhibited the mould growth. A detailed and really interesting project Finn. Great how you included the actual food sample you used - as gross as they were! Well done!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

What is electricity?

We decided that almost nothing in our classroom would exist if it wasn’t for electricity. We discovered that almost everything in the class would have used electricity to get into the state it is. It has been fascinating to think about a world without it. We have started looking at how it first begun to be identified, harnessed, and created.

To understand electricity you have to look at atoms. Protons and neutrons make up the nucleus. Electrons orbit around the nucleus. The protons (positively charged) and electrons (negatively charged) want to stay together because they have opposite charges. If you have 2 electrons next to each other they try and get away from each other (repel) because they are both negatively charged.

Electrons can be torn away from an atom and when this happens that is what we call electricity.
There are two types of electricity – static and current. Static electricity is created by friction. Rubbing two materials together can knock electrons off atoms and the electrons build up on the surface of the material. They remain on the surface (are static) until they can find something positively charged to attach to. They will jump to attach themselves to a positively charged proton. This is what happens when you get a shock off a trampoline or car. It is also what happens when lightning strikes. The clouds rub together separating the electrons and protons. The electrons want to get back with some protons so they jump to the ground.
We experimented with creating static electricity and seeing if we can attract or repel materials. This wasn’t as successful as we hoped and an interesting question is why it did work really well when Mr Marquand tried it last week but not today? Humidity? We did manage to get some pretty crazy hair.
Current electricity is different from static electricity. It is what goes along power lines and what powers our houses. When an electron is split from its atom it jumps to another atom. The extra electron then forces the electron already there to jump to the next atom and a chain reaction is started. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

Science Fair

We made it! A massive congratulations to everyone. Probably the biggest project you have ever done and you have done amazingly well for your first Science Fair Project. There was so much learning that went on about science and the scientific process, but also around planning, managing time, and being organised. You all deserve a holiday now!

We were lucky enough to have Miriam (a secondary school science teacher) come along and judge the boards. The results were really close for first, second, and third. Here they are:

First: Ieuan - Magnificent Magnets
Second: Campbell - Chooky Chow
Third: Josiah - Loaded Diapers

Highly commended:
Zachary - Erosion Explosion
Antony/Cameron - Drop to the Beat
Connor/Ewan - Sound of Silence
Lola/Tabitha - The Poop Project

The above boards will go through to the Waikato Science Fair.

Kokako Science Fair on PhotoPeach

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Leadership part two!

Here are the student leadership positions for the second half of 2017. I am looking forward to seeing you guys continue to grow. Make the most of it, take initiative, and push yourselves out of your comfort zones. Attitude determines altitude!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

First Science Fair Project

Declan has just headed overseas on holiday so had to fast track his Science Fair project. He managed to get it completed just in time.

It is a fascinating look into the affect of talking to plants. His question was whether talking to plants could help them grow. He had three groups of plants. One he spoke lovingly to, one he shouted hateful words to, and one group (the control) he just ignored. Amazingly the plants he spoke lovingly to grew higher (on average).

In his discussion he raised the interesting question of if talking negatively to people could affect their bodies. The sound waves that affected the plant cells could have a similar affect on human cells. Well done Declan! You achieved a lot in the short time you had.

Winter Sport

We have had a great term developing our skills in the winter sports of football, rugby, netball, and hockey. It all finished up yesterday with participating in Winter Tournament at Ngahinapouri. Here are our awesome teams. Our football team managed to finish 3rd.

A big well done to our awesome student coaches who stepped in and did an awesome job of coaching the netball and hockey. Well done Jorja, Lola, Tabitha, Stephanie, and Deegan. It can be challenging leading your own peers but you did an outstanding job.