Newsletter for alumni of Manurewa High School

Alumni Newsletter

October 2016

Update from the Principal

Dear Alumni

I am very pleased to share that outstanding student achievement continues to be a tradition at Manurewa High School. To name some of the more recent achievements:
  • New Zealand representatives in volleyball Heny Ap'e and Wanyae Suafoa played in an international competition in Florida. Alumni fundraising support was very much appreciated.
  • World Karate champions Tuki Kamana-Pou and Rosemary Pokoati
  • Amandeep Kaur - who adds World Vision Youth Ambassador and Zonta's South Auckland Young Women in Public Affairs Awardee to a string of high profile community awards she has gained through her charity work and academic achievement.
  • Matthew Lawrence Pule’anga - World Hip Hop Champs bronze medallist
  • The best result to date for Mathex.
  • The huge buzz generated from the New Zealand launch of E-sports, held in the hall last month.
  • The positivity created by the support we have through alumni and business connections - an example is this recent TVNZ News story.
  • The global achievement of our first Future Problem Solving team, which represented our school and South Auckland at the International competition in Michigan, and came 14th out of 70 teams. A tremendous result, which has inspired more students to take up the challenge in 2016.
  • Sonatane Kaufusi - second in the national final of Smokefree Rockquest - and Moses Taala, drummer for Nesian Vibes, winner of the award for outstanding musicianship in Smokefree Pacifica Beats.
We are working hard across all areas of the school to live our values - Respect, Excellence, Whanaungatanga and Akoranga.

Thank you so much to all our alumni who continue to support us - your work really does make a difference to our students.

Pete Jones, Principal


Business Academy

The Business Academy is developing well as a hub within our school. This year we have been focusing on:
  • Business Partnerships
  • Alumni Connections
  • Fundraising
  • Working with the Ministry of Education to finalise plans for a new building. We are cautiously excited that the Ministry will approve the project to begin in July 2017.
  • Developing programmes that provide business context and experiences for all students
  • Developing our governance structure. We have an excellent board guiding our strategy and encouraging our work programmes. 
The feedback we get from business and alumni is that our Vision to develop creative, enterprising and entrepreneurial capability of our students is very much required. 

Please make contact with Leanne Gibson if you'd like to learn more about ways to be involved.

Year 13 learn about Air New Zealand's strategy for success from General Manager of Networks Richard Thomson.

Alumni in school

Jordan was invited by the teacher of a Year 10 Science class to support a learning Inquiry theme on Future Focus. He shared with the students that he was someone who did not take learning at school seriously and was not motivated to learn and achieve. However, he had an awakening moment when he realised that there was more to life than just “mere” fun. He told the students he realised that qualifications were important to start a career and upon becoming a young father, where he was hit with responsibilities for supporting a growing family, he actually had an attitude change. Jordan went on to gain qualifications in the business and finance sector and is now working at Westpac Bank in mortgage financing. The students were fascinated with his story.

A senior associate at Inder Lynch Lawyers, Anne spoke with a group of students who are interested in studying law at university. This followed on from a law lecture by Gordon Stewart, who is Head of School of Law at Victoria University, and also a past student of Manurewa High School. Anne spoke about the different areas of law, and the wider careers that a law degree is useful for. Anne has specialised in family law. Her career has taken her to the United Nations, where she spoke to a committee about New Zealand’s de facto property legislation. As a next step, Anne is helping a student to gain experience of what it's like to work in a law firm.

A design engineer at Methven, Dan provided support to a group of Science students who had entered a competition that required them to scope a problem, design a solution and produce a prototype. The students appreciated his technical support to develop their CAD design and progress it through a 3D printing process. The project won the top award in the Sink or Swim competition run by the Manukau Beautification Trust, and is being further developed for another competition. 

Raymond visited a senior Photography class, and presented some of the work from his years as an editorial, commercial, concert and street photographer. He said the students were a great audience and asked relevant and well thought out questions in relation to technique, environment and social dynamics. He was impressed and lifted by the enthusiasm and skill of the students. He felt their teacher, Adele Whittaker, was doing a great job of guiding these artists in training.

Mark was one of many alumni saddened at the passing of Classics teacher Paul Lees in 2014. His offer to create a Classics prize as a memorial to Paul was very much appreciated. Classics teacher Ben Doyle (pictured right) welcomed Mark into his class to present the trophy, and share some memories. The first recipient will be named at senior Prize Giving in December. 

It's always great to have alumni as judges for this annual Year 11 competition. This year we welcomed Toni Robins, Chris George, Oz Jabur and Andrea Bates.


This event for Year 9 and 10s aims to inspire and support students to grow their mindsets for learning and life. It draws in a range of speakers who lead practical workshops, including a number of role-model alumni. This year we welcomed:
  • Eros Malele, who joined The Mind Lab Unitec as an EdTech Educator in 2014, where he works to inspire creativity, ingenuity and collaboration through teaching different topics. This includes robotics, coding, 3D printing and modelling.
  • Mele Tapueluelu, Helen Lesa and Lupe Fifita - from the 412 FOR YOUTH INITIATIVE. Graduates of 2015, these students set up 412 to fulfil their aim to empower young people to succeed above and beyond the commonalities of a South Auckland Teen. They do this by running events and workshops customised to suit the youth.
  • Jacinta Talia'uli and Ryan King. Jacinta and Ryan had a strong vision for their lives after high school. Ryan graduated in Commerce from the University of Auckland in 2015, while Jacinta is in her third year. They both value being able to give back to their community, and have enjoyed many opportunities, such as going to Stanford University for an entrepreneurs' programme. They encourage students to be community minded but with a global perspective. 
  • Jasmine (McLean) Jenke, who works as a Journalist and Photographer at Middlemore Hospital. She previously worked as a Dance and Media Studies teacher at Papatoetoe High School until receiving a one year scholarship to work towards publishing her first book, Humans of South Auckland. The book aims to promote stories of hope and pride from everyday South Auckland people. Her work was the subject of a profile on TV One recently.
It's pretty impressive what our alumni do!

Young mentors aim to build self-belief


2012 leaver Jaspreet Singh has worked out that he’s our only alumni studying medicine at the University of Auckland currently, and he wants the company of more MHS students.
That aim became action with the development of a new mentoring programme, Foster Our Future, which connects past students studying at university or recently graduated, with current students.
The programme has spread from Health Careers to include Commerce, Law, Music, Engineering and Computer Science.  
“What we have in common is that we see a need to help MHS students,” says Jaspreet. “We’ve experienced how, when we leave school and go to university, we feel at a slight disadvantage – we lack belief that we can achieve our dreams. So one of the aims of this group is to help prepare students for the transition.”


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.- Piki Atu Ki Te Rangi


Derek Playdell (73-76)
After leaving school, Derek developed a successful career with the Bank of New Zealand. He moved on to management roles in various businesses. He now works for CCS Disability (formerly known as Crippled Children Society). He also does presentations (accredited by an Australian Institute) on suicide prevention, depression, mental health and addiction. He played rugby at senior level for 26 years and has also served as a coach, manager and club administrator. He has enjoyed mentoring a number of players to achieve at the highest levels in the game.

Derek is keen for a reunion event for 70s era alumni. Please email with Leanne Gibson if you would be interested in supporting this event.

60s era alumni hold a semi-regular gathering at Broncos Steakhouse on Great South Road in Manukau. Guests at a recent event included Chris Moon (owner of Broncos), Annette McCleary, Raewyn and Trevor Green, Len and Karen Bacon, Margaret Ayris, Gary and Gail McCraith, Gail and Cliff Knowles, Peter and Sue Lucas, Rob Richmond, Robyn Jackson, Kevin and Judy Hanley, John McGregor, Ken Feder, Ian Wood, Chris Fraser, David Voisey and Eric Stockwell.


Viet Pham

At school, Viet took subjects he enjoyed, rather than subjects he felt were necessary/would attain good grades in high school. He says he really appreciates the support from teachers for his choices. As a result, he has fond memories of his high school years. He went on to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) / Arts (Japanese) Conjoint at the University of Auckland. Fast-forward five years of university and an exchange in the United States, he has chosen to start a career in investment banking as an analyst at First NZ Capital.

Simon Elliott

Simon has earned the prestigious University of Auckland Blues Award for the most outstanding contribution in service and leadership. Simon is training to be a PE teacher through the University of Auckland College of Education and recently did a practicum at MHS. 


Paul Marshall - call me LOYAL

Regarding this article and comments made by then mayoral candidate Phil Goff about South Auckland schools, I would like to point out that I have three degrees in addition to a PhD in Exercise Physiology, have published nearly 60 scientific journal articles, have presented at numerous conferences, and contribute to leading my profession, AND I WENT TO A SOUTH AUCKLAND HIGH SCHOOL (MHS 1991-1995, Prefect 1995). I offer my support for the ongoing efforts of The Manurewa High School, and provide hopefully one further example of how far you can go coming from an education at a 'South Auckland' school.

Lisette Wesseling

Lisette passed away in September. She attended MHS from 1985-89 and was a star of the Music Department before moving on to develop an international career in Music based in the UK. She later settled in Wellington. Lisette wrote in the 1989 School Magazine that as a blind student, she valued the opportunity to be an independent and integrated member of school, with the support of the Visual Resource Room. Her lifelong advocacy of the needs of blind and other disabled people began here.

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