Service is central to our mission as Christians and is a Touchstone of our College.
Kia ora whanau
Tēnā koutou kātoa ngā whānau o te kura
Incredibly, we have now passed the halfway mark of Term 2! I want to offer my sincerest thanks to our wonderful staff and volunteers who continue to give so much to ensure our students have the best learning and enrichment opportunities through our College. We are a truly blessed community!
Hamilton Diocese Strategic Pastoral Plan
On Saturday, May 22nd, Mrs van Zyl and I travelled to Morrinsville for the Diocesan Strategic Pastoral Plan Launch. Bishop Steve presented the vision, and an overview of this five-year plan to those gathered across our Diocese. The vision: Together, on the journey, living no longer for ourselves but for Christ, sets our direction as a Diocese for the next five years. Along the way we will be guided by a signpost for each year:
2022: Facilitating Encounter with Christ
2023: Mission & Outreach
2024: Partnerships – Mana Ōrite
2025: Empowering People
From Bishop Steve in his pastoral letter: Jesus calls us together in Him as His one Body. To receive the Lord worthily, we are called to be agents of unity. Underpinning all pastoral activity in the Diocese is the call to be TOGETHER in Christ. In this task we are all ON THE JOURNEY with each of us being at different places and stages on our journey. The Church herself is also on the journey as she responds to changing times and the signs of the time in the light of Gospel. The journey reminds us that faith is not a formula. Each of us, and the Church herself, continue to grow in our understanding of the Christ and his call to become his missionary disciples. This means we need to constantly review and assess how we as Church are the Body of Christ for the people of our time and how we speak to and relate to the people in our wider communities. A defining part of our journey of faith is that Christ is in relationship, not only with us, but with all the people He holds in His heart. We recognise that these relationships with each of us are fragile and have to be nurtured. We recognise that no two relationships can be the same. It is this that compels us to seek the living presence of Christ in every encounter we have. Therefore, underpinning all pastoral activity in the Diocese is the call to recognise that every encounter we have has the opportunity to be a graced moment ON THE JOURNEY of faith, hope and love. To respond to these graced moments we need to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, for we are LIVING NO LONGER FOR OURSELVES BUT FOR CHRIST (2 Cor 5:15) and he has promised to be with us whenever two or three gather in his name. Christ is the one who stepped into the world and became one with us in our humanity. He experienced a fully human journey through His life among us. As he steps towards us, so he invites us to step towards him, to become one with Him for He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and He wants us to have life in abundance, in this life and in the life to come. We cannot want this life for ourselves without wanting it and working for it for others. Christ thus becomes the central point of our lives. He interprets our lives and directs us on the path ahead. Underpinning all pastoral activity in the Diocese is the call to LIVE NO LONGER FOR OURSELVES, rather to empty ourselves and to be more Christ-centred in our spiritual life and in our pastoral outreach, LIVING FOR CHRIST so that He might transform us and through us transform the world.
As a college community, we will need to reflect on how we can realise the aspirations of this pastoral plan, companioning each other on the journey.
Our annual Service Day is being held on Thursday, June 10th. This year, all students from Year 7 to 13 have been encouraged to go out into our local community and seek service opportunities. Students will be actively engaged in a range of activities including, but not limited to, helping the elderly, preparing meals, planting trees and participating in environmental clean-ups. This is a special day in the life of Aquinas College, inviting students to take on another’s perspective and to act as the hands and feet of Christ to others. We are blessed as a Catholic community to set this time aside to inspire others through small acts of kindness and share the gifts of the Holy Spirit with our local community. This is what we are called to do. Service is central to our mission as Christians and is a Touchstone of our College. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see many examples of the compassion and care he showed to the poor and vulnerable. We hear how Jesus upheld the human dignity of others and sought to live in a community, which focused on the common good of all.
Today, we need to follow Jesus’ example of caring for others and taking up his cross as a humble and faithful servant. In the words of St Theresa of Avila, “Christ has no body now but yours, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.”
I share with you two staffing updates:
Mrs Paula Skelton
With great pride and privilege, I can share that Mrs Skelton has been appointed to the position of Deputy Principal at Te Kuiti High School. This is a tremendous achievement, and we congratulate Mrs Skelton on her appointment. It is gratifying to see another member of our staff go on to a senior leadership position. While we will desperately miss Mrs Skelton, we congratulate her and wish her well in this exciting step in her educational journey. Mrs Skelton will take up this new role at the beginning of Week 8 of this term. Please keep Mrs Skelton in your prayers as she prepares for her new mission.
Miss Amber McKenzie
Miss McKenzie will be leaving the College at the end of the month after securing a new job. Miss McKenzie has provided ICT support to staff and students over the six-year period she has been employed at Aquinas College. We thank Miss McKenzie for her service and wish her well in the new position she has recently secured.
Battle of Te Ranga Commemorations
On Monday, June 21st, staff, students and their whānau are invited to attend the commemorations for the Battle of Te Ranga. The commemorations will begin at 7:30am on the site (corner of Pyes Pa Road and Joyce Road). We will then host refreshments to follow in Te Taumata (our whare) immediately after.
Given where our College sits- mere metres from this historical battleground, it is appropriate that we reflect on our local history. Fought on June 21st, the shortest day of 1864, the battle of Te Ranga was the sequel to the battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) eight weeks earlier. Following their defeat at Pukehinahina, some of the British force at Tauranga returned to Auckland. Meanwhile, their Ngāi Te Rangi opponents were reinforced by warriors from Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Porou. They began building a pā at Te Ranga. Unfortunately for the Māori, British reconnaissance discovered this fortification before it was completed. Colonel H.H. Greer attacked the 500 defenders of the half-dug trenches with a 700-strong force. In the ensuing battle, the outcome was very different to that of Pukehinahina. The Māori warriors had time to abandon this incomplete stronghold before the British soldiers pressed the attack home, and some did – but many chose to stay and fight.
After two hours of battle, and with the reinforcements Colonel Greer had sent for in sight, he ordered his units to advance. Some of the most violent hand-to-hand fighting of the New Zealand Wars ensued before the Māori warriors retreated towards nearby bush and gullies, pursued on foot and then by the colonial horsemen. In total, 140 Māori warriors were killed, and 37 were wounded, 13 British soldiers died, and 39 were wounded. Among the fallen Māori warriors were the Ngāti Te Rangi leaders: Rāwiri Puhirake – the victor of Pukehinahina – and Hēnare Taratoa, whose Christian code of conduct had guided the Māori fighters.
Three-Way Learning Conversations – June 30th
Following the next round of progress reports available at the end of Week 7, we will be holding this term’s three-way learning conversations. After reflecting on feedback from our teaching staff and the community, we have decided to trial running these learning conversations over one whole day, meaning we can elongate the appointment times from five minutes to ten minutes.
The three-way learning conversations will take place from 8:30am-7:00pm. There will be no classes for students on this day. Parents and whānau are encouraged to book a meeting with your child’s teachers at a time that is most convenient for them. Bookings will be once again through SchoolBridge. You will receive a booking link with your child’s report. Parents and whānau are encouraged to attend with their child and engage their teachers in learning-focused conversations.
Term 2 Kahui Ako Wide Staff-Only Day
Please be aware that Friday 9th July (the last day of the term) will be a Kahui Ako professional learning day. Our Faith-Based Kahui Ako includes Aquinas College, John Paul College (Rotorua), St. Mary’s (Tauranga), St. Thomas More (Mount Maunganui), Suzanne Aubert (Papamoa), Bishop Edward Gaines (Tokoroa), St. Mary’s (Putaruru), St. Mary’s (Rotorua), St. Michael’s (Rotorua) and St. Joseph’s (Opotiki). The day will focus on the three strategic themes of our Kahui Ako – wellbeing, learners and their whānau, and agentic teaching and learning. We are looking forward to connecting with our colleagues across our faith community in Rotorua on this day.
Thank you to all of you for your continued support of your child(ren) ’s education this term. Education is a partnership, and we are all enriched by your active participation.
Ma te Atua tātou e manaaki – May God’s blessings be upon us all.
Sessions are 10am – 1.00pm; 2.00 – 4.30pm; Gala concert 7pm – 9pm (times approx).