Kahikatea – Yrs 7/8

Teacher – John Fitch

John Fitch - TEACHER - Kahikatea

Kahikatea Stationery 2019


  • Kahikatea Camp – John Fitch


We had a great week at Mt Hutt Retreat full of challenge and fun. The students were fantastic and we couldn’t have done it without our parent helps, particularly Sue Graham who organised all the food. When we arrived on the Monday afternoon we were greeted with sleety rain and snow down to about 50m above the lodge. Our tramp was put off and indoor games were the order of the day, exhausting for me but the students never seemed to tire and I had to dig deep from my toolbox of inside activities. Tuesday morning saw a small window in the weather and we set off on our tramp, up into the snow. Thirteen students made it well beyond the snowline and walked through a winter wonderland, there is something very special about New Zealand bush in snow.

Wednesday we travelled to Erewhon, the iconic drive was made extra special by fresh snow on all the mountain tops. After our cart ride, lead rein and general station tour even those students who had seemed unenthused by the trip were fizzing! Afternoon trip to Mt Sunday surrounded by the braids of the Rangitata, a very mystical place and of course the set for Edoras in Lord of the Rings.

Thursday morning we did the rescheduled mountain bike trip at the bike park, beginners group on Swamp Monkey and advanced on Front Door and Wrighty’s. All students completed at least one ride, some pushed themselves and completed four trails meaning they had less than half an hour for lunch before the afternoon programme. Abseiling, air rifles and archery were the afternoon activities. The support and encouragement the students showed toward each other in the abseiling was a highlight of the camp. This support continued in the evening in the Camp Concert with Winter’s singing with a backing group of singers and ukulele winning the popular vote with ensuing encore.

Pack up day Friday and off to Ashburton Art Gallery (yes, it has one!). Some challenging activities taxed tired brains but the class gave it a good go and enjoyed the experience, quite a counter-point to the days that had come before.

My final camp of many, from the streets of London to the Southern Alps of New Zealand and many other places in between.

Special thanks to Sue, Brent, Mick, Bonnie, Shelley and Tracey.

John Fitch

  • Ukulele – Tracey Wright


We started term 3 with inspiration from Cat McFedries in Kahikatea teaching a 5 week block on Tuesday afternoons; firstly teaching the parts of the ukulele, then the children made up their own rhymes to remember the names of the strings (GCEA) ‘go crazy every afternoon’. We looked at how to hold a uke, strumming, timing and keeping an ear out for the rest of the class.


Within Kahikatea there is a group of very able ukulele players so Cat took them to learn the hallelujah song while I taught the remaining group ‘Counting Stars’, a four chord song. It quickly became apparent that I was going to have to give them more as they picked this song up very quickly, so they also learned the “Lava” song. At the end of that five weeks Kahikatea performed these 3 songs at our term 3 parent assembly. They were able to not only play but also sing all 3 songs confidently.


The next 5 weeks of term 3, using the philosophy of tuakana teina,(Tuakana/teina refers to the relationship between an older (tuakana) person and a younger (teina) person and is specific to teaching and learning in the Māori context. Within teaching and learning contexts, this can take a variety of forms: Peer to peer – teina teaches teina, tuakana teaches tuakana ),8 children from Kahikatea passed on their ukulele knowledge to the children in Tōtara. This was extremely successful as each expert ukulele player got to teach 2-3 Tōtara children.  The spirit in which the children did this was heartwarming. Very quickly the Tōtara children learned ʻCounting Stars” and were able to perform this for the Kahikatea, Matai, and Ngahere classes.