Sunday, 21 October 2012

2012 Term 4 Week 1 - Studio Names

To date our studios have been named 1, 2 and 3 - not very original or inspiring but very deliberate.
It would have been easy for us as a senior leadership team to pre-determine the names of the studios and the learning advisor groups this time last year so that teachers and students came into HPS and into a set group - but we wanted the names to reflect our school community. 

Our students have embraced our natural environment in a way that has far exceeded our expectations and our native birds have become an important aspect of our school life through sound, inquiry, technology, as well as our visitors from nature.

The "birds" signal our moving in and out of learning times and have become an integral part of our ethos. Visitors are either bemused or in awe of the use of native bird sounds instead of a harsh bell and it often takes a while for them to realise that the gentle sound of the tui is not a real tui but is in fact, a signal to students to take a break from learning or play. These sounds do not interrupt or intrude on learning,  rather drift into the conscious and have been a pleasant way to move between learning foci.

Our students have all designed and built a bird box which is being decorated at home for our Whanake Hingaia Day on 24 November. These bird boxes will be situated around our perimeter to provide a reminder of our foundation year students and encourage wildlife to our environment. 

Teachers and students have submitted a plan to Auckland Council to create a Pukeko Sanctuary near the back fence to allow our swamp loving birds a safe place to nest. Currently we have nests in the car park and in the gardens by the studios which has caused us some concern as cars, children and ride on lawn mowers get precariously close to the baby birds. We are awaiting a decision on this application.

Bird life around the school land has been prolific and we are delighted to welcome pukeko and ducks to nest, tuis and kereru in the trees surrounding us and herons on the field. And of course we have our swallows nesting in the eaves and Jazz in the office!

With this interest in birds in mind we have decided to name our learning advisor groups after native birds and our studios after native trees. Not all of the birds or the trees are endemic to our little peninsula but they are special to us all as New Zealanders. 

Studio 2 will be known as Mamaku. This forest tree is a black tree fern and young shoots emerge from a koru which have become a national symbol of regeneration and new beginnings. The learning advisor groups associated with Mamaku are the forest birds weka, kiwi and takahe.

The Weka, or woodhen, is a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand and is classified as vunerable. Maori admire their curiosity and feisty personalities and their feathers were used in clothing.

The Kiwi is a nocturnal flightless bird native to New Zealand and is an endangered species. It is known as our national icon and recognised world wide as the symbol (and name) of New Zealanders.

The Takahe is a large flightless bird native to New Zealand and once thought to be extinct. It is similar looking to the pukeko but larger with shorter legs.

Studio 3 will be known as Nikau. This coastal tree is New Zealand's native palm and has many uses in Maori culture such as baskets, food wrapping and in cooking. The learning advisor groups associated with Nikau are the coastal birds kotuku, kotare and hoiho. 

The Kotuku or white heron is an extremely rare native bird. The white feathers were highly prize, adorning the heads of chiefs and to the Maori the kotoku symbolises that which is rare and beautiful.

The Kotare or New Zealand Kingfisher is a cousin of the Australian Kookaburra and is a common sight in coastal regions. The Kotare  likes to eat fish, crabs, lizards and mice and is often seen up high on a telephone wire or tree surveying his territory. 

The Hoiho is our native yellow-eyed penguin and  thought to be the worlds rarest penguin. It is an endangered and protected bird in New Zealand. Hoiho nest away from other Hoiho in nests made of flax and dried grasses.


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