Posted 2nd June

We had an amazing day planting manuka, kanuka, harakeke, cabbage tree, kahikatea and one or two other species at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park on Wednesday. To be accurate, it was more of a half day, as the children worked so well that we surpassed the ranger’s expectations of 1200 trees for the day. In total we got over 1750 trees in the ground, creating a small wetland area, centred on a pond. We had some very positive feedback about the quality of the planting done by our students, as well as the quantity. The park is a great place to play and the children will be able to see the growth of the trees each time they visit. You can also ride your horse there. See the website for details about this and other regional parks.

A reminder that next week is a busy one with 3 different events spread over a shortened week, thanks to her majesty. The Rippa Tournament is on Tuesday and the Triathlon is on Friday. In addition, there is the Science Roadshow, which I mentioned in my last post. We will be walking from downtown Helensville back to the museum, so send along an umbrella or raincoat in case of showers.

Nga mihi,

Steve Arnold



30th May

Kia Ora to all Totara Whanau!

We had a wonderful assembly lead by our class last Friday. We ran it in the format of a TV channel and the children wrote their own scripts and took the part of news presenters, roving reporters, weather presenters, interviewers, programme hosts, camera crew, sound crew, innocent bystanders and technicians. It was awesome to see what they were capable of producing in what amounted to one and a half days. Along the way they learnt a heap of skills, such as: writing, presenting, art, drama, computers, relational, self-control and ICT. A number of them were very much outside their comfort zone but faced their fears and really shone on the day! It made me feel very fortunate to be working alongside such a talented and enthusiastic bunch of young people.

We have just farewelled one of the boys from our class, who is moving with his family up to the winterless north. A big thanks to everyone for sending along such yummy food for the shared lunch today. It was great to be able to send him off in style. There were a few not-so-dry eyes around the room as his classmates got to say what they appreciated about him and wished him well. However, we have a new student starting this week to take his place, and we look forward to warmly welcoming him into our Totara family.

This week we have our tree planting day and next week all the Year 5-8’s are off on the bus to the Science Fair Roadshow. I have heard glowing reports of this from those students who went last year, so everyone is looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us this time around. We will be visiting the Helensville Museum on the same day.

In the midst of all this, we are just about to start a unit on Geometry in Maths, and are looking at how to “Show, not Tell” in our Writing by looking at some published authors writing and applying some of their techniques to our own work.

In closing off, a big thank you to all of you who help out with transport. It definitely adds to the children’s learning experiences and they love having you along for the ride!

Nga mihi nui,

Steve Arnold

16th May

We have had a great start to Term 2, apart from the weather, which has put the kybosh on both the Traithlon and the Tree Planting Day! Both of these events have now been rescheduled: Triathlon – Friday 9th June; Tree Planting – Wednesday 31st May. Thank you for all your offers of transport.

This term we have begun looking at “REDUCE” as part of our year-long theme of sustainability. We reduced willow and pine branches to artists’ charcoal in an open fire, at the same time reducing our hunger by cooking up some sausages. Then we used these charcoal sticks to create reductionist drawings. Come on in and have a look the next time you’re in the neighbourhood. After book week we will begin looking at our marine environment: what sort of things affect our marine environment and how can we reduce our impact?

This week is book week and the theme is “Bookaneer” (buccaneer). The students are all very excited about of events we have planned, including the Book Fair, buddy reading with another class, having other teachers come in and read to them each day, and generally just taking time to really focus on Reading. The big focus for many of them, of course, is dress up day on Friday. We are encouraging participation this year and trying to get as many in costume as possible. We will have a non-competitive fun parade first thing on Friday morning.

In Maths we have been working on problems involving fractions, such as ½, ¼, 3/4 and 1/10. We have been learning to find fractions of a whole (eg ½ of a pizza) and fractions of a set (eg ¼ of 20 loads of firewood). Some students are taking to this like a duck to water; others need a little more support. We have also done some procedural writing and are currently working on diary writing.

Nga mihi, Steve Arnold

14th March

The majority of our class was involved in a Year 5/6 T-Ball tournament that was held today at Starling Park in West Auckland. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, T-Ball is designed for younger players to teach them the skills they need to play softball, which is played from Year 7 onwards.

We had enough keen students to enter 2 teams: one girls and one boys. Both teams played around 5 games, often against teams that had clearly been playing the game a lot longer, but we played with determination and showed great sportsmanship. It was awesome to hear the Waioneke kids encouraging each other and giving each other tips. All the players enjoyed themselves and it was great to see the growth in skills and confidence that comes from playing in a competition.

Thanks to all those parents and whanau who were able to make it along to support the teams. A special thanks to those who provided transport to the tournament – it would have been a very long walk without you.

Posted 23rd February

Kia Ora to you all!

Well, we have been to our two sessions in the Life Education trailer and had a lot of fun: learning about body systems (in particular the digestive system); taking a look at the food pyramid; and learning how to make healthy food choices by reading the ingredients list and information panel on processed food packets.

Feel free to have a browse through the following website to get background info on what the Life Education programme covers.

We were  looking at the following topics:

What is a balanced diet?

How does digestion work?

What is energy?

Food group models and labels

In the section called, Food group models and labels, the first page has a picture of the same food pyramid that your child learnt about in their Life Education sessions. It would help to reinforce their learning if you could show them the food pyramid diagram and ask them to tell you what they learnt about it. Also ask them to tell you what the three types of food they learnt about are (food from the ground, food from animals, and processed food) and see if together you can list some examples of each type of food by looking in your pantry, fridge, freezer, garden, orchard and paddock.

For a bit of a shock (perhaps), get them to look at the information panels on the back of food packets and spot which ones have the highest proportion of sugar, salt and fat. They practised finding the sugar information in Life Education. You may just need to remind them to look at the ‘per 100g’ column, if they have forgotten. One interesting fact I picked up is that breakfast cereals are classed as healthy if they have less than 10g of sugar per 100g, while for muesli, less than 20g of sugar per 100g is considered healthy. The difficulty is finding one! Food for thought…

Nga mihi,

Steve Arnold


Posted 21st February

We’re into Week 4 already and it’s a busy one for us. We managed to complete our “INVINCIBULL”, which the whole class had a hand in. Get yourself along to the Helensville A&P Show this Saturday and see how it looks!

We have Life Education this Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and our class is running the Whole School Assembly this Friday at 1:30pm. If you are in the neighbourhood, feel free to drop in.

In Mathematics we are continuing to work away at measurement and there have been some very good strides in students’ ability and confidence with measuring in centimetres. We also continue to focus on the basic facts that will help students to work through problems faster. One strategy we have begun looking at is breaking up numbers to help students with their mental addition. For example: In working out 18+7, we can take 2 from the 7 and add it to the 18 to make a tidy 20. Then we are left with 5, which we put with the 20 to make 25.

Next week, we have our school swimming sports on Wednesday 1st March. Please strongly encourage your child to wear their house colour on the day. Of course, you are welcome to come along and join in the fun.

Nga mihi,




Hi and welcome to the new school year. It has been great to touch base with a number of parents who have dropped into class and also to meet others of you at the Meet the Teacher BBQ.


Just a brief introduction. I am born and bred in the mighty Manawatu, in the city of Palmerston North. My parents moved us up to Tauranga and then I left to study in Auckland. A number of years later we discovered Helensville and the joys of living in the wild west. I have three children, one wife and enjoy outdoorsy things like fishing, kayaking, camping, mucking around in boats, and hanging out with friends and whanau.


This year our overall theme is ‘Sustainability’. In Term 1, we are looking at ‘Sustaining Our Learning’. What are the things we can do to keep ourselves in the learning zone? How do we learn best? What things help us to learn? What things hinder us? What routines, attitudes and behaviours will set us up for positive learning? How can we work together to boost our learning?


As part of this we are working in a range of group sizes to discuss and practise some of these things. This will include learning about thinking tools, such as Y-Charts and PMI’s (ask your child to explain these). Using these kinds of tools help the students to think more deeply about their learning, extend themselves and learn different ways to work together positively.


There are a few bits and pieces you may like to note down:

  • Swimming is every day unless the pool freezes over solid. If your child is unable to swim for any reason, please send a note with them or email me.
  • Our library day is Thursday and the limit is 3 books per child at a time.
  • Life Education classes are in Week 4 and will cover health and nutrition.
  • School swimming sports are on Wednesday 1st March.
  • Homework is usually given Monday and usually due Friday. The more you can get your child to read the better. A guide is at least 20 minutes per day. Talking with them about their reading is a great way to keep them interested and help them improve. Basic facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are something that you can practise with them as often as you are able.

Nga mihi mahana,

Steve Arnold