Back Issue 9: October 2018

18 October 2018


Welcome to the last school term of 2018.

At Sport New Zealand we’ve had a busy year, and the past month has been especially big for us – with the new Women and Girls strategy launched by the Prime Minister and Sport and Recreation Minister, on Thursday the 11th of October, and, to coincide with Mental Health Week, we released new research about New Zealanders physical activity rates and the correlation to mental wellbeing.
The benefits of being physically active are increasingly becoming known around the world, with most recent evidence noting the powerful positive effects on our mental health. In this latest update you’ll read about one school that is supporting physical activity by placing importance on taking care of all aspects of students’ lives through PE – and it has been transformative for the students at Māoribank School.
Enjoy this last newsletter for 2018, sharing the learnings from our teachers, students, and communities. 

Peter Miskimmin
Sport NZ Chief Executive

Māoribank School is in Upper Hutt, and its commitment to the approach has had resoundingly positive results for its students and wider community.

Shea Coxson teaches at Māoribank and his classroom is full of vibrant artwork and looks out across a green sports field. His class is a mixture of years 4, 5 and 6, meaning there are lots of different skill sets to cater for, and especially so when it comes to PE. Innovation and testing new approaches is why Shea is the recent winner of the PENZ young Māori teacher of the year award.
During the last year and a half Shea has fundamentally changed his approach to teaching HPE with the support of activator Apanui Heemi and mentor Jarod Summers. So how did he do it?
“We had to go backwards to go forwards – we had to unpack what being physical was... and understand that it’s more than just the’s all those other skills”.
Incorporating Mason Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā – an underlying concept of the curriculum looking at holistic needs, and the wider human context – was the starting point for Shea’s changes.
The four walls in Shea’s classroom explore different aspects of students’ lives and encourage young people to use physical activity to support these parts of themselves: taha Tinana (physical), taha Whānau (family, friends and relationships), taha Hinengaro (mind) and taha Wairua (spirituality) forming the basis of hauroa classes now. It has been a successful move.
“I was quite concerned...that if we moved away from sport and fitness, because some kids loved playing games for PE, that they wouldn’t enjoy it anymore… it can be difficult when you try to move away from what you know,” says Shea.
His students love the flexibility of their new hauora classes; they can change the rules of games, there’s an emphasis on how to play fair, be more inclusive and treating one another with respect.
“They really understood the value of becoming a better teammate, and the values that come with each sport... from what they’ve told me through their feedback, it’s been universally well received and adopted – I can’t think of any student who’s been disappointed with the direction.”
Part of the success has been addressing students who don’t feel a natural affinity with physical activity and sports – and Shea has seen a big change in those students. “Some kids lacked confidence and were reluctant to give things a go – we unpacked what it meant to be embarrassed, and what it means as an emotion – it’s something that only we feel, and if we understand that, then we also have capacity to overcome our embarrassment and nerves”.
As a result of this shared approach and discussion, students who were previously hesitant, are giving activities a go and experiencing success.
“If I’ve learnt one thing out of this whole experience it is the value and importance of the HPE curriculum, and I think in my opinion now, in terms of the overall impact it can have on them as people, it far exceeds any other curriculum area”.
Shea’s key learnings: 

  • Make sure the students understand what they’re doing and why. It has been critical that they come along on the journey – and really understand why we’re doing it.
  • Start by redefining PE & health with your class. What is physical education? Use this as an opportunity to address any misconceptions they may have.
  • Dedicate the time needed for it to be successful. In our class,hauoratakes place for at least 30 minutes a day, Monday – Thursday.
  • Maintain a balanced programme. Resist the urge to focus on one particular wall or strand.  

View Shea’s PENZ presentation, with a focus on hauora and the four walls.


What Shea’s students say about the four walls and hauora:

  • “The teachers make it really fun for us, because they make it fair – and they change some of the rules, so it’s more fun and no one cheats and they teach us how to be honest.”
  • “It make us think more positively, and that someone has to lose, and you’re gonna get a turn at losing, but you shouldn’t be sad about it, cause it’s your turn and next time you can improve from what you learn – someone has to have a turn”.
  • “Being fit is part of being strong”.
  • “It’s wellbeing, we make sure all our four walls are healthy – so we don’t get upset, we get stronger”.
  • “We play dodge ball and change the rules – no one really cheats anymore – cause one of first values we learnt was honesty”.
  • “It helps us become better people…being physical and learning to control our minds”.
  •  “If you don’t have all four walls – your house will fall down”.

Jarod Summers is the mentor for Māoribank school (alongside Silverstream, St Brendans, Plateau and Birchville) and has worked closely with Shea and the community to help parents understand the approach and to find out what they want for their children.

After very few families responded to a health and PE consultation questionnaire trying to build a better picture of the community’s needs, Jarod found new ways to connect with locals and get parents to engage with his work:

You tried a new approach to connect with the Māoribank school community – what did you do, and why?
Karen (Māoribank School Principal) really wanted to have some input from the community, as they know their own tamariki, not only what their strengths are, but what learning support they could use.
We decided that something needed to change to get more responses and input from the community – and the school performance was a perfect platform, as not only whānau come, but members of the local community as well. 
We discussed how we could get more consultation from whānau, we decided that since I was already attending the annual school performance, I would talk to some whānau and go through the consultation questions with them – catch them before the performance started. Karen and I thought that this could work as I understood the questions, and could rephrase the questions if needed.
How did the community respond to this new approach?
It was really well received from the whānau that I managed to interview and share the questionnaire with. The parents were happy that there was someone to explain some of the questions, and give more examples when they needed help with understanding.

They had heard about me from their children, so they were happy to put a name to the face!
What did you learn through trial and error?
I’ve learnt through this process that it’s a great way to become embedded in the school culture – going to inter-school events, galas and performances. A bit more work is involved, but I learnt that parents appreciate being asked to be involved, and to have some say in what is being taught. If I were to do it again, I would ask more of the team to come with me to capture more of the whānau voice.
How do you plan to work with communities in the future?
To keep trying new ways to engage. What I have learnt from this experience, is that to get whānau voice, you sometimes need to think outside the box and engage with parents when their child is involved; whether it could be at the sidelines of a sporting event, galas or fairs, or even “meet the teacher” events, so you can connect, as well as get information from whānau. Communities can play such a vital part of the home/school relationship, so the more we can work with them, the better the outcome will be. 
What was the greatest benefit – or the benefits of working with the community in this way? 

The greatest benefit in my eyes is to get the voice of parents/community members – sharing what they feel is important for their tamariki to learn. 
I got valuable information that backs up’s views, such as: 90% of the families interviewed thought teaching mental health was vitally important; that students should have a say in what they learn as well; also that HPE shouldn’t just be about physical skills – we need to be looking after the hauora of the whole child


Grant Schofield talks

Earlier this year Grant Schofield, Chief Education Health and Nutrition Advisor at the Ministry of Education, spoke to a group of West Auckland primary and intermediate principals and senior leaders about physical activity and wellbeing.

Here are his insights into overall wellbeing, and the connection physical activity makes to health.

Watch the videos