Newsletter for alumni of Manurewa High School

Alumni Newsletter

February 2016

Update from the Principal

Dear Alumni,

2016 starts with a lot of optimism and excitement. I am delighted at the improvements gained by our Year 13 students last year. There was a significant improvement in the percentage of students who gained Level 3. It means we are now achieving at or above the national average in all three levels of NCEA.

The higher levels of achievement mean that there are more opportunities available to our students when they leave school.

Another reason for optimism is that many more students are leaving school and moving immediately into employment or further training, which means we have created a seamless pathway from school. I attribute this improvement significantly to the increased connections our students have with people who are in careers and employers. So thank you to co-ordinator Leanne Gibson and all the alumni who have established these contacts. It creates an essential resource for our students, who are making the most of it. For the future success of our students, the school and the community, it is important that we continue to enhance this resource.

As this newsletter shows, we are enjoying the new connections being made with alumni from all walks of life. Through the work of archivist David Voisey (former teacher and our longest-serving staff member), we are providing services such as school magazines online. Social media groups are also growing, and providing ways for you to reconnect with your school-mates. (Refer below for links).

We encourage you to take advantage of opportunities to come back to school, have a coffee in our cafe, and engage with our students. We have really capable students, who often have no idea what they want to do when they leave school. Learning from alumni is one of the most powerful ways we can help to give them some direction. 

The school may look different, but I'm sure the culture has not changed - people who enjoy life and make the best of what they have.

Salvatore Gargiulo, Principal


Introducing Manurewa High School's next Principal

Board of Trustees chair Stephen Smith has announced the appointment of Pete Jones as Principal, commencing in May 2016. 

Mr Jones has been on the academic staff at MHS for the past 10 years, and has worked at all levels in the school. His most recent position has been as Deputy Principal. He is also currently chair of the Board of Trustees at Howick College. 

Mr Jones’ career spans experience in both the UK and New Zealand education systems. He has also had experience in business as a company director with a contract furniture consultancy. 

“It is an honour to be appointed the next Principal to serve our great school and I am grateful to be able to work with Salvi over the first term of 2016, and keep the transition as smooth as possible for our students, staff and community.”

He says our school is performing well, and this is a testament to all the hard work done by the school's Board of Trustees, staff, students and community. “We know we are working in the right areas and that together we achieve.”


Celebrating good times

A passionate group of around 75 past students and staff from the 90s era came together over Labour Weekend for a reunion event organised by alumni Kareem Brown and Marcus Winter. The pair have become involved in the school in recent years, working with teachers and students. They share their experiences as a musician and an artist respectively; they also take the time to develop students' sense of opportunity for the future, and respect for the past. 

We are keen to work with alumni from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or 2000s to organise reunion events, and facilitate connections. Please get in touch if you'd like to be involved:

Read a full reunion report here

Connect with the 90s era group on Facebook

Making sustainability real

Those who live in New Zealand may be aware of a business trend in sustainability. Air New Zealand provides a typical example. CEO Chris Luxon has said that sustainability is not just about environmentalism. "It's a bigger concept about how do we drive good impacts economically, socially and environmentally. No one is going to deliver this objective unless we work together in different ways. Business has a role to play."

Following Chris Luxon's announcement of a stronger commitment to sustainability, alumni Chris Mills got in touch. Chris is General Manager of Human Resources for Air New Zealand's Engineering and Maintenance businesses, based in Auckland. His role serves some 3000 employees.

He hosted us through jet base and we are now exploring ways to increase the number of students following Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Operations as a career pathway. This ranges from engineering to customer service.

As a first step, we're working with Chris and his team to organise a one-day experience of flight operations - in the photo Principal Salvatore Gargiulo and Chris discuss the options.

He hosted us through jet base and we are now exploring ways to increase the number of students exploring flight operations as a career pathway. This ranges from roles in engineering to customer service.

As a first step, we're working with Chris and his team to organise a one-day experience of flight operations - in the photo Principal Salvatore Gargiulo and Chris discuss the options.


Catching up with: Toni Robins (1981-84)

Toni is business owner of NZ Home Loans Hillpark, where she exercises her passion for saving New Zealand families thousands of dollars in interest by showing them how to manage their mortgage with NZ Home Loans. Her specialties include planning for milestones in your life, building wealth, debt management and protecting your family and assets.
Toni’s career path into business ownership in financial services started with working for a bank straight from school, moving into a role as assistant to a mortgage broker after having her family. When she was made redundant in 2009, NZ Home Loans offered her a position helping ordinary kiwi families purchase their first home and showing them how to repay the debt faster. Toni has been with NZ Home Loans for nearly seven years and in 2013 was the No1 client service consultant in the country, which is when the company offered her the opportunity to become a business owner.
Toni has been a long-standing supporter of MHS as an alumni and a parent. This has included support for the Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme (HALP), which enables students to experience life and provide support for aid projects in Cambodia and Laos. She has also supported the Big Day In conference, which motivates Year 9 students to set goals for their high-school experience, and gives presentations to Year 12 and 13 students on to develop their financial knowledge.
Her children Jacqui, Kimberley, Andrew and Braden all attended Manurewa High School and have been actively involved in sports, drama and humanitarian projects. Jacqui played soccer for the school and was in the plays For Today and Grease. Jacqui graduated from Auckland University with a business degree in 2013 and is working in advertising and marketing. Kimberley was a whanau leader for Kotuku whanau, lead in the play Guys and Dolls, a national champion in trampolining and won many awards for gymnastics. Kimberley is living and working in London. Andrew has been very involved with the HALP programme and has been on two trips, including one after he left school. He was also very involved with the school hockey team. Andrew is working fulltime and planning a trip to Europe for later this year. Braden is in Year 13. He is the 15th member of the family to have attended the school and his graduation this year will end a 40 year association with Manurewa High. Braden is aiming to study megatronics engineering at Auckland University in 2017.


Catching up with: Bobbie Hunter (1960-63)

Dr Roberta (Bobbie) Hunter (nee Cavanagh) is a senior lecturer and researcher at Massey University Albany campus and is working with our Maths department to develop teachers’ understanding of how to improve Pasifika and Maori students’ Maths achievement. We are one of 25 schools in New Zealand to benefit from her knowledge; she is also an adviser to schools in Singapore.

With her daughter Dr Jodie Hunter, Bobbie is working to address the issue that 62% of Maori and Pacifica students are failing Mathematics in New Zealand schools.

Bobbie’s love of Maths came from watching her Cook Islands mother measuring and making geometric patterns for intricate tivaevae (fabric art). This has influenced the development of “Bobbie Maths”, a teaching model based on getting children to work collaboratively in groups to question, argue and reason their way through mathematical problem solving, using culturally-based examples and contexts. Its success hinges on training teachers to understand the approach and to learn how to facilitate it through drawing on cultural contexts that reflect the lives of their students. This means involving parents and communities too.

Bobbie says when children engage in Mathematics argumentation, they learn a lot more. “Pasifika and Maori students are less likely to want to engage in argument because it can be seen as disrespectful. We are helping them to develop the voice for the Maths classroom.

“We have seen accelerated Maths achievement in schools we have been working in.”

Bobbie was a foundation student at MHS. "It was a teacher at this school who said to me ‘you should be going to teachers' college’. It’s an example of the effect of teachers on students’ lives.”

Curriculum focus: Health Sciences

The first year of operating a Health Sciences Academy at MHS has been a huge success, and plans are underway to extend the initiative this year. The academy commenced in 2015 with Year 11 students, and in 2016 will include both Year 11 and Year 12.

As well as providing a health-focused Science curriculum, the academy creates opportunities for students to work with mentors, visit health facilities, and learn from a broad range of Health Science experts (doctors, pharmacists, pathologists, vets and so on). We hope that alumni and whanau working in the health sector will be keen to contribute their time and experiences.

“We want to create something special for students that makes being part of the Health Academy both interesting and enjoyable, as well as being a pathway to great careers,” Nicole says.

A key project in the Health Sciences Academy this year was the opportunity for students to participate in a community-based research project with Landcare Research. This involved the collection of mould and yeasts from homes, which they then analysed in the Landcare laboratory.

Organised by Science teacher Nick Pattison at Rongomai Primary School in Otara, the project involved collaboration by our two schools and a range of science and community groups.

Landcare Research plant pathologist Stanley Bellgard says the students excelled at recovering moulds for analysis in the labs. “Human health is a very important research space, and it was gratifying and inspirational to work with students on this project. I have huge respect for the diligence they showed, and they were great ambassadors for their schools.”

The results of the research triggered a media discussion about living conditions. Read more about the study:
NZ Herald
Spacifik Magazine
Radio New Zealand


New stage for our Business Academy

The Manurewa High School Business Academy Foundation has recently been established to support the development of authentic business education at secondary school level. The foundation’s trust deed allows for a partnership with the school Board of Trustees and management to ensure the development of a successful Business Academy at Manurewa High School.
Stephen Smith, chairman of the Board of Trustees, says the vision is for the school and the foundation to work together in a way that transcends changes of personnel, and ensures sustainability. “It’s an incredible opportunity for our students and community. It embeds partnership, and enables better access to broader pathways for our students.”
MHS Business Academy Foundation chair John Hynds says the next step is to progress development of an authentic curriculum that motivates young people to become creative, enterprising and entrepreneurial.
A recent alumni and advocate for the academy, Ryan King, says business is an area where Maori and Pasifika students do not have a strong presence. “However, we do have a ton of potential. To be able to gather all of these students into the Business Academy will help our community to grow, by developing the business leaders of tomorrow.”
Ryan graduated with a Commerce degree from the University of Auckland in 2015, and was also the recipient of the First Foundation Trustees Award, which recognises excellence and contribution. “Studying business has given me direction in my life, while presenting me with opportunities to help my community," he says. "It will be incredible for more students to have these opportunities.”


The Kite Stories

Manurewa High School's kite logo was designed in consultation with students, parents, staff and local kaumatua. The logo can be interpreted in a number of ways:

Keywords - bird, kite, whanau, four directions, community, flying as a flock.


Alumni in flight:

Rita Seumanutafa (1992-96)
An ethnomusicologist, with a special interest in Samoan music, Rita is a post-graduate research student at The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne. Her research focus is to maintain and sustain traditional Samoan music.

Rita also has a role as choir director and founder of The Melbourne Samoan Choir, and conductor of the Northcote Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Choir. This helps to promote and maintain the creation and performance of Samoan music in Victoria.

Since migrating from New Zealand 12 years ago, Rita has been a youth leader and mentor of Samoan youth groups in Melbourne,  Rita's involvement with the Pacific community of Melbourne includes facilitating workshops for Pacific youth in secondary schools, interstate camp events, church and community groups as well as community engagement projects. Rita has recently founded PICAA (Pacific Island Creative Arts Australia) Incorporated - an organisation that seeks to promote the creation and performance of Pacific Island music, dance, theatre and film in Australia.

Road to Rio 2016 - Huriana Manuel
Huriana is a member of the NZ Womens 7s Team that will compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where 7s makes its debut.

Huri captained our 1st XV Girls Rugby team during back-to-back wins in the Auckland Secondary Schools Rugby Championships.

After leaving school, she joined the most successful Women's Rugby Franchise - Auckland Storm.

She has also played for the NZ Womens 15s team that won World Cup Gold.



Daniel Fogarty (1995-99)
Daniel graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic in 2015 and moved to Nelson/Tasman to pursue "the most fulfilling career I could ask for in working with my local community".

After school (in the era of Mr Thompson, Mr Hornblow and Mrs Dixon), Daniel worked and travelled in America, before completing a business degree at the University of Auckland  in 2004. He then worked in London for three years in the health sector, and met his future wife Annastashia (a Southland girl), who introduced him to chiropractic care. He says he fell in love with the philosophy of natural and functional health and wellbeing, and loved the changes he saw in his own health and energy. In 2011, the couple welcomed their daughter Beatrix into the world. "She had her first check and adjustment at 24 hours old and became a switched on chiro-baby."

Adeleina Loto-Meleisia (2006-10)

Adeleina is studying law at the University of Auckland and is about to start an internship in Phnom Penh where she will undertake assignments in the Office of the Co-Investigating Judge, United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT).

The office is in charge of investigations (evidence, interviewing witnesses etc) for prosecutions of top leaders in Khmer Rouge, the communist government under which 1.5 million Cambodians were killed and up to three million disappeared.

Head girl in 2010, Adeleina's interest in international civil rights was nurtured after travelling on our annual Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme (HALP). She credits our Head of Science, Dr Nick Marsh, for encouraging her in Year 10 to aim to be head girl and is grateful to many teachers at MHS, including Mrs Laulu and Mr Muir. "I wouldn't be where I am today - a week out of starting a 6 month internship for the United Nations - had I not gone to Manurewa High School. Everywhere I go I will be able to boast that I come from Rewa, and I plan on doing so!"

Alpesh Patel
Alpesh graduated with an Engineering degree from the University of Auckland in 2012 and joined the civil engineering firm Downer. After three years in the workforce, he says he can have some flexibility in his hours, which has enabled him to begin "giving back".  As a representative for Future In Tech, he shares his experiences about a career as an engineer. This brought him back to MHS last year for the Year 11 Career Navigator Day.

His key message to students is that there is always more than one pathway, and if they consider more than one option, they will be successful. However, taking Physics and Maths was essential for his career. "I thought Physics was hard when I was in Year 13, but now when I look back it wasn't as hard as uni. Anyone can do it though, you just have to push yourself."

Karen Trethowen
 Karen works in social services and enjoyed a recent tour of the school. She says it was interesting to see all of the opportunities that students get, and how the school meets their needs with services like the Health Centre and Youth Workers.


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Our archivist, Mr David Voisey, is gradually digitising the School Magazine, and loading online.




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