Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

What a great Mass we had on Sunday. It was great to see so many of our families there but it was also a very special day for the Baxter and Still families as Piper, William and Connor Baxter and Mya Still were all baptised.

Baptism is of course the first Sacrament of initiation and is the beginning of a persons life as a member of the Church. It is a beginning but to get the most possible from our life as Christians we need to be fully involved in all aspects.

Much the same is true of education. Now days parents put a lot of time and effort in to researching and finding what they see as being the best school for their child. This is an important first step. But it is only a first step. Being involved in your child’s learning on all levels is hugely important. This doesn’t mean doing things for them but rather role modelling that education and school is important. Attending school functions and interviews and ensuring that the pupils see school as a positive and important part of their lives.

I think that it was the great American golfer Ray Floyd who said "If you love your job then you never work a day in your life". To make the most of life we need to enjoy what we do. For children, parents set the tone. So as the saying goes accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative and life will be fun.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan


Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The sun is finally shining after two weeks of almost non stop rain.

The Otago Championships have been postponed three times (not really sure why, for yesterday). I was down in Gore on Sunday watching Emily (my daughter) play cricket and the weather went from a freezing cold southerly, where some spectators were in sleeping bags, heavy rain through to burning sun.

Hopefully we will enjoy more settled weather through to the end of the year.

Over the next two weeks trips for Beach Education and the Art Gallery continue and the senior classes will be enjoying their swimming lessons.

As we move into the season of Advent, it is important to remember that Advent like lent is a season of preparation. As we prepare for Christmas it is, I feel, important to live each day and not focus too much on the future. There is a danger as the years seem to do faster to be always looking for the next big event; Christmas, birthdays, holidays etc, without enjoying the moment.

A wise man, once equated our trip through life like a train journey. He stressed that we need to enjoy the journey because if we totally focus only on getting to our destination we will reach the terminus soon enough!

So enjoy and make the most of each and every day.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As I look out the window the rain continues to drizzle down which means: no athletics today and a damp day at the beach (luckily the beach education programme has a wet day component), obviously the advice was taken and the students will not go in the water.

Over the past two weeks we have enjoyed two of the occasions that bring our school community together: The school fair was a monumental success with excellent numbers of people attending, great support from all of our school community. A large amount of money raised to further support our school and a great time had by all. Once again a huge thanks to all of the helpers and organisers and especially Jacqui Hyde and Keisha Gorton.

The second major event of course was our school major production. The time and effort put in by all of the staff but especially the Room Seven group was obvious for all to see. The amount of work that was done in evenings and weekends really highlights the enthusiasm and commitment of the group.

A special thanks also to Mr Andrew Baines for entertaining us all with his creativity and excellent sense of humour.

Today is the final day of the term for Mrs Stevens who is going on leave to have an operation of her foot. We wish her well and pray for a speedy and complete recovery.

Finally remember in your thoughts and prayers the people who live at the top of the South Island and the bottom of the North Island who are still suffering through this catastrophic earthquake.

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan


Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

2016 has become well known as the year of the sporting upset.

The upsets range from the Hurricanes winning the Super Rugby competition– not really an upset but it was the first time that they had won, to such unheard of results as Iceland beating England at football and Eire beating New Zealand at rugby (the first time in 111 years).

Some of the upset results were again the first time something had happened like Leicester City winning the English Premier league after 118 years of trying or the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA after 46 years of trying or even the Cronulla Sharks (Cronulla Sutherland) winning the NRL after 108 years.

But in many ways the biggest upset was the Chicago Bulls winning Major league basketball after a drought of 108 years. In the early years of last century the Cubs were one of the strongest teams in the competition, in fact they were the first team to win two championships and to be in three final series. Over the years they had many great teams and many winning years but they lost close matches and then came the "curse of the Billy goat".

It sounds a little strange to us but the curse seriously got inside the Cubs and their supporters minds. Just when they should win, something would happen that would lead to a loss. This culminated when a life long Cubs supporter (Steve Bartman) reached out to catch a fly ball from the stands touching the ball and denying a game winning catch to the Cubs fielder. The team then choked and lost! So incensed where the local fans that Bartman needed Police protection and had to try to live beneath the radar for a decade.

But all of that is ended now, the "curse" is lifted and 108 years is now no longer the longest non winning stretch in major sport.

Sport is looked upon as being a metaphor for life, why did these teams lose for so long, or why were they not able to win. They had the same or in some cases better teams and support than their opposition.

The answer would be that they, at crucial stages, lost track of what is important and why we play the game.

Sport is when all is said and done, entertainment. At the most basic level it entertains the participants and maybe their parents. At the top level it entertains billions worldwide. I remember a recent interview with a famous footballer who said when we asked about his immense salary "that he didn’t cure or teach people, he only kicked a ball but if someone wants to pay him millions then what was he to do?" What indeed!

To have a happy and fulfilled life we need to constantly remember what is important to us and to not become fixated on how things are "always going wrong" or not working out. Winners set their own goals and targets and don’t worry about what others say. Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan

School Fair

What a

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

In the famous western movie John Wayne utters the thought provoking quote "looking back is a bad habit". Is it? We are often told to be reflective and thoughtful but is that the same as focusing on the past?

Delving into the past can never be a good thing it stops us going forward and focusing on what we might achieve.

They say that "those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it". But even that quote is future focused as it’s taking what has happened in the past and using it to plot a course for where to go to in the future.

People who are the victims of terrible crimes (either crimes committed against them or someone dear to them) are able to move on with their lives when they are able to forgive the person who perpetrated the crime against them (remember the famous scenes of Pope John Paul the second forgiving Mehmet Ali Agca the man who tried to kill him).

People who never forgive, never move on in their own lives and thus become a double victim; once from the original offense and the second time by putting themselves in a prison of their own making.

The rite of reconciliation deals with things in a really affirming matter. In it you own your sins, you reflect on why they were wrong and who they hurt and then you work out how to mend things and go forward. The mending is meaningful and designed to bring closure and enable people to go forward.

There is unfortunately the temptation to always look to blame someone else for our mistakes. While this gives us (perhaps) peace of mind in the short term, it teaches us and if we do it for our children, to abdicate responsibility for our actions.

Any successful people that I have worked with have always had the capacity to take it on the chin no

matter how bitter the message.

As Denis Waitley said "the greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Week three of term four already and the term is really flying through. Yesterday was Labour Day, a day that we

commemorate the implementation of the forty hour working week and the development of decent conditions for workers. If a number of people over a number of decades had not worked really hard we would still have no

minimum wage, no minimum age to leave school, no forty hour working week and we would not have the high

expectation for safe working conditions for all working people. We still have a long way to go when we have so many people earning below a living wage, but we have a generally caring society.

This week we welcome into our school two ladies from the Catholic Education Review Office:

Mrs Tui Pascoe and Mrs Jo McKay will be looking at how we at St Mary’s live our Catholic Special Character. Please make them feel welcome.

Please remember that we have the South Taieri Schools Athletics Sports this Friday. Also remember to listen to the Radio cancellations, or look on our facebook page for postponements if the weather is wet. The postponement day is Wednesday 2nd November.

The final countdown is on for our school fair. We still need a number of helpers on stalls, please remember that all of the money raised goes to benefit the children, so if you have a spare hour and a half on Sunday 6th please put your name down to help. A list of activities still requiring helpers is available at the school office.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Welcome back everybody to the fourth term for the 2016 school year.

This term there are a number of important functions scheduled: The South Taieri Athletic Sports (followed by the Otago Championships), the school production, senior swimming, and of course our end of the year Advent and Christmas celebrations.

This of course doesn’t include the usual high level of in class teaching, learning and co-curricular


During the school holidays a small but busy group of people were working away at the school to put in place the new amenities that you can see: the new sandpit, long jump pit and tunnel. I would like to thank the PTA for their funding of these additions to our school, Janet McDonald for organizing and

co-ordinating the project, Lisa Matheson for procuring and arranging for the pipe to be installed, Guy Matheson for being our digger driver along with Mark McDonald and Gareth Davis who put in huge hours on all three projects and I think that you will agree they are all of a very high standard.

To finish off the project we had a ‘Working Bee’ on Saturday and I would like to thank Richard O’Neill for co-ordinating this, Peter O’Neill for his "back saving" tractor work and our other helpers, Jacqui Hyde, Janet McDonald, Shane McFelin and Alison O’Neill.

A lot of time, effort and sweat went into these projects so a huge thank you to all involved.

We began the term with a performance by Mr Yipadee (Dean O’Brien) yesterday.

Dean is an ex-pupil of our school and a professional children’s entertainer based in the U.K. He chose St Mary’s as the place that he would begin his nation-wide tour. The students really enjoyed his concert and throughout it there were smiles from ear to ear.

Have a great term,

Mike Brosnahan

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

This week is the last week of term three and this year seems to be going very quickly. Judging by the plethora of blossom, daffodils and lambs, spring is definitely here.

Our first Eucharist Mass on Sunday was a very nice occasion and I would like to thank Father

Michael, Monsignor Vince and Mrs Dillon for putting together such a lovely service. I would also like to thank all of the parents who supported our young people through this exciting journey. Most importantly thank you to our pupils who were such a credit to themselves and their families in the way that they conducted themselves throughout the morning. A huge thank you to the PTA for their efforts and to the parents who helped with the morning tea.

As we conclude our winter term and move into our spring term, and the lead into Advent and Christmas, please remember to have a period of rest to recharge your batteries for a busy term to come.

Have a great holiday,

Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Recently I was driving in my car on the open road of Central Otago and there was nothing of interest on the radio so I reached into my old pile of CD’s and popped one into the player.

By chance it happened to be Glen Campbell’s greatest hits. One of the first songs that came up was "Try a little kindness".

As I drove through the Maniototo I heard the words "If you see your brother standing by the road with a heavy head from the seeds he sowed and if you see your sister falling by the way just stop and say "you’re going the wrong way".

"You’ve got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness just shine your light for everyone to see and if you try a little kindness then you’ll over look the blindness of narrow-minded people on the narrow

minded streets."

I thought how much that this song encapsulates the Christian message. It is a goal that we want our

children to achieve, to be kind and caring.

How often do we say or hear someone else say, "they brought that on themselves". But as the song says we need to be bigger than that.

The America basketball legend Larry Bird said "When he realised how good he was he could acknowledge the good play of others".

That I guess is the key Christian message of the song. Don’t just help your friends or those who ‘you’ think deserve help but rather help all who need help. For those little acts of kindness: saying hello to a stranger, smiling at someone who isn’t a happy person or offering assistance to someone who needs it. That is

being a follower of Christ.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan


Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Last week I had the pleasure to accompany the senior class on their annual school camp. This year, being an even year, was a winter camp based at Kelvin Heights, Queenstown.

The children got to experience a range of interesting and exciting activities that for many were a first:

skiing, gold panning, luging and being transported back into the past (ask the students).

They also: visited Highlands Park, walked a section of the rail trail, swam, visited a museum, walked old Arrowtown and the local Chinese village and rode the Gondola.

The camp was a great success and it’s great to see all of the seniors attempting all of the activities with real enthusiasm.

I would like to thank the exceptional group of parents who accompanied us on camp: Janine Tindall-Morice, Guy Matheson, Adrian Van der Vliet, Brendon Farr and Grant Dodson. Without the support of these parents, events like camp would not be able to take place. So thank you all very much for your


Also a huge thanks to Mrs Judy Baines, who organises the camp so well. The time and effort that Judy puts in is certainly well above what would be expected. She begins planning two years in advance with the initial bookings and then arranges all activities, transport, food and ensures that costs are kept as low as possible.

We learn more about ourselves in times of struggle than in times of ease.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Assembly Room

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As you read this newsletter I will be on camp with our senior class. Going on ‘camp’ is always a real

highlight for our school’s year seven and eight class, not because of the huge range of activities that they get to try, but, because of the life skills that they master.

Before camp you will often ask them what they are looking forward to and aften the answer will be: skiing or luging. But when they return they often focus more on what they learned about themselves or others.

That is our school’s philosophy with regards to outdoor education. I have been on a large number of

winter camps and about the same number of summer ones and during that time we have produced no Olympic skier's or kayakers. But we have produced a large number of highly successful young leaders, and one of the highlights that they always remember about their time at St Mary’s, is Camp.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan


Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

What a brilliant turn out for our Family Mass on Sunday. I was especially proud of the way that the younger pupils spoke out with such confidence when they presented their prayers.

As you would expect one of the area prospective parents tend to have a number of questions about when I first meet them is about the special character of our school.

The questions mostly are not about the religious education programme, but they usually focus on what makes our school different from a state school.

In my roll I visit a number of schools for a range of reasons. One major difference with our school and large state schools is the close tie up between the school and the families and the parish.

After the Mass on Sunday a number of parishioners stopped me to tell me of how much they enjoyed the schools input at the Mass and how great it was to see all of those young ones there.

There is a saying that "it takes a village to raise a child".

Sadly a change that I have noticed over a number of years in our society is that families are becoming more isolated. People don’t belong to the range of clubs that they once did. So young people and indeed their families aren’t always exposed to those supportive social situations. As a consequence the school and parish become more important as support offering institutions.

So as a school we remain strongly supportive of enriching and developing further those ties between school and Parish as fundamentally our school exists because of ou

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well over the last few days winter has well and truly struck, at the moment we still can’t get our cars up the drive. But as a friend of mine who farms in the Maniototo said "this is winter, what do you expect?"

The television, or many of the channels at the moment are being over taken by the Olympics. I always feel very proud of the amazing results that our athletes achieve at the Olympics but also sometimes a little sad because of the immense pressure that gets put on these amazing young people (or in Mark Todd’s case, not so young) by unrealistic public expectation.

There are 206 countries taking part. Over all Olympics, New Zealand has won 101 medals, 100 in the summer Olympics and one in the winter Olympics. (42 Gold, 19 Silver and 38 Bronze).

This given the tiny size of our country is an amazing result. Australia have won 469 Summer Olympic medals).

Over the last few Olympics New Zealand has enjoyed a lot of success (6 Golds in London, 3 in Beijing and 3 in Athens). But historically we have only won a handful of medals in any Olympics (in Sydney 2000 we only won four medals in total). I think that as we watch the Olympics and discuss the results with our children we need to reinforce the important aspects of sport.

Train hard—if you don’t train hard you won’t win. Play to the rules (cheats always get caught) and respect your adversaries. Winning is important, it’s why people play sport. But winning should be done with honour. I watched my daughter play a hockey match the other day against the second ranked girls school team in the country. They were leading 1-0, but the other team came back and eventually won 1-2.

However, when a team ranked 24 nationally gets that close to a team ranked 2, that is also a victory.

All of her team realised how far they as a team and as people have come.

So when you watch the Olympics with your children don’t just look at the winners or the super stars but also look at the effort made, the skills on show and the Olympic spirit being shown.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Talking with a number of people over the week and looking at our recent ICAS (a voluntary external

exam) results the word of the week is science.

Science in a primary school is often integrated into other curriculum areas, for example if we are studying household chemicals we might also get the students to design a package for a new chemical (art) to write an advertisement for the product (English) and research what the need was for the new product (maths). In the one series of lessons, four curriculum areas are being taught because they are all closely linked. When studying the science area of astronomy (beyond planet earth) reading Greeks Myths and Legends about the Zodiac and the uses that the ancients had for the stars is important. It is important because it explains the uses that mankind can put the study of stars to. This is applying the science hence the

differential between the applied and pure sciences.

An applied science uses existing knowledge to create practical application to solve problems, pure science is a science that yields theories and predictions. At the primary level all learning needs to be put into

context by using the children's prior knowledge and extending this. So science like all subjects relies on prior knowledge as a foundation for future learning. Prior knowledge can be gained in biology by simple observations of animals (why are ducks the colour they are, camouflage).

The use of science labs and chemical experiments still have their place, but often using technology offers a huge range of alternative ways of learning new knowledge.

So remember when your child asks you what is the first star in the sky that you see a night, the fact that the evening star is actually the planet Venus is all excellent scientific learning.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Welcome back to everybody for Term Three.

After looking at my diary I can say that this promises to be a very busy term.

Please remember to always read the diary of upcoming events in each newsletter and also

remember that all up coming events will be listed on the school website and facebook page.

One of my earliest memories of school was being in Miss Horgan’s junior room at Patearoa School and listening to the commentary on the radio of the moon landing. I can still well recall, "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

Every boy had a set of plastic astronauts to play with along side his soldiers and cowboys and


Man travelling to, and then landing on the moon, was astounding. It meant that people looked to the night sky to study the stars wondering, "where to next?"

Apollo 11 was surely only a gentle beginning. Next stop mars then the stars. After all we had Star Trek, Lost in Space, and U.F.O.

But then Nasa stopped it’s space programme, well certainly the manned flight aspect.

In recent times a large number of people have become sceptical about whether man has really landed on the moon. These sceptics point to a range of reasons why, they say this could not have happened: Van

Allan's belt, solar flares, the relatively primitive state of computers at the time. They look at the films and photos and say; the flag is waving, the shadows are wrong!

They suggest that the moon landings only happened on a film sound stage and they were done to "put one over the Soviet Union" at the height of the cold war.

I have read a lot about both sides of this debate. Neither side is conclusive. Neither side has definitive proof. But really for me and for a huge number of other people this matter has achieved a lot. It has got us to really think about a topic.

That is a very important part of education. No matter what, you encourage your children to think and question. That is how you learn, that is education.

Have a great term. Mike Brosnahan


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Over the last week several of our staff have been to courses to support the implementation of ALIM (Accelerated Learning In Mathematics). Mrs Baines will be lead teacher in this contract and she will be working with a group of six pupils for out of class sessions and a further three pupils who she will work within her class.

The parents of the pupils chosen to take part in this project will be contacted over the next weeks.

While we have a high number of our pupils who achieve at or above the standard in mathematics, it is

important to remember that all learning is on-going and new:

Techniques, strategies, knowledge and approaches are always being imagined and developed.

While not many people use the most pure type of maths in their everyday life, most if not all of us apply some mathematical learning to almost every task that we preform.

That is what the focus is for ALIM—it is about accelerating the ability of the pupils to understand and

apply strategies to solve problems—mathematical but often with a practical purpose.

So for all of us we can help our child’s development in Maths by encouraging them to solve problems by using whatever technique they feel most comfortable in utilising.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well here we are in week ten of term two. We have passed the solstice and according to my diary, the half way stage of the year.

The question that we often ask yourself is where has the year gone? The answer is easy to see, in all that we as a school have done.

It seems to be a time when a number of representative teams are selected at both the primary and

secondary level. Whenever these teams are selected there are winners and losers. Some children get

selected who didn’t think that they would, some don’t get selected who thought they would. To make it tougher, some, who made a team the previous year, don’t get selected in the new year.

As with all selectorial matters there are winners and losers, happy and sad and even angry.

Writing as a parent who has had children move through and one who is still in this process, selectors and non selections normally equalize. The more advanced the team then the more impartial the sectors and coach tend to be as they also are judged on results and are often looking to achieve good results in the team they coach so they can fast forward their coaching career.

My daughters have been lucky to have coaches and selectors who had no children in the team, so merit generally was all that counted. Yes in some cases parents did try to have input but their sports body put a firm notice out saying, "that no correspondence from parents was acceptable and any would be sent to the administration to deal with".

We are all human, and we all want the best for our children. But it’s not about whether you get selected or not it’s how you deal with the fact. One of my daughters has three times missed out on selection in teams that general consensus thought she would have made. She was sad, but then she looked forward and set new goals and made the teams she aspired to.

Many people think that sport for children, under 15, should be only for fun to develop skills. They think that it’s not until they are adults, under 18, that teams should be totally competitive.

That is a question that varies from sport to sport, region to region and time to time.

What I do know is that people who stay in sport after they leave school are the ones who enjoy the sport—they play it because they want to, they are not always the ones who make the teams, but they are the ones who play sport for the right reasons.
Have a great break, Mike Brosnahan ( Principal)

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well here we are in week nine and what a busy term it has been so far and promises to continue to be.

The weather has been very atypical of what we expect in Dunedin in winter but this has reflected on our roll being less affected by illness.

I would like to draw it to everybody's attention that there have been several health scares in the North

Island through Measles out breaks. The time that illnesses that are prevalent in the North Island are most likely to reach the South are the periods of time straight after a school holidays. So please take every

sensible precaution to ensure that your children obey the health departments hygiene advice (wash your hands regularly for a minimum of 20 seconds with hot water and soap and dry for 20 seconds).

Where possible avoid ill children and most importantly if your child is exposed to a serious illness like the measles you keep them isolated and inform the school as soon as possible.

Later this week we will be circulating a consultation document on our schools vision. Please read it and send in your feedback. Remember our vision is where we see our pupils going in the future.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Over the last week I have attended a number of situations where the major discussion point was "what

attributes do we need to succeed in life?"

The answer that seems to keep coming back is discipline. Discipline takes many guises, but to achieve in life what we talk about is self-discipline.

The discipline to get up and to train on a frosty morning, the discipline not to buy the new pair of sports shoes because you want to have some savings, the discipline to study for an exam when all of your friends are going to a party.

People who have self discipline have it from an early age and they tend to have it for life.

Can discipline be taught? Absolutely! Can it be role-modelled ? Without a doubt.

When we think of the things that you never hear anyone say, they are: "I wish I hadn’t studied so hard"! Or "I wish that I hadn’t trained so hard."

It’s always the opposite—I wish I had studied harder or trained harder. This is self-discipline.

When you look at people who are successful, the young Stephen Adams getting up at six o’clock in the morning to train, they are always the harder worker. To work hard you must have self-discipline.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Over the past week there has been a major focus on ensuring that we have in place a safe environment for our pupils when leaving school at the end of the day.

Car parking and the correct use of the drop off zone have been a priority area. I have been closely

observing what is going on, and speaking to some people, to ensure that we are all working together to

make sure that our roads are safe for our pupils.

People who use the drop off zone between 8.30am and 9.30am and between 2.30pm and 3.30pm must not leave their car as the idea of the drop off zone is to quickly and safely pick up your child and then move on so that another car can use your space.

If you need to leave the vehicle for any reason then please park in one of the other parking spaces or on the road. Please also remember to respect the designated mobility/young (expectant) mum parking zones as we have a number of parents in the school who have a real need to use these parks.

The weather has once again gone off in a unusual direction, amazing clear and for June warm days, but also a frosty beginning. So please be careful when driving these mornings and also watch for slippery patches in the car parks.

Tomorrow I will be attending the funeral of Bishop Len. A lot has been and more will be written about Bishop Len’s amazing contribution to leadership in our Diocese, and indeed nationally. Like most people I have some excellent memories of him but a highlight will always be of his visits to our school just before a Confirmation celebration. He would talk to the class, always asking their name and then developing some link with the family. By the time he left, the whole class felt that this important man knew them

personally, a real gift. RIP Bishop Len Boyle.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Term two is often referred to as the Autumn term, but this year we seem to have gone straight from

summer to winter. It seems difficult to believe that only a week ago we wanted rain. I think we’ve had enough now to last us for the next six months.

Last night I watched a documentary about a man called Barney Miller. Barney is a very close friend of Australian surfing champion Mick Fanning (the surfer who survived a televised attack by a "Great White" in South Africa last year).

Miller was involved in a serious car accident when he was twenty and he was told that he would struggle to breathe unassisted, and that he would never walk again. Through courage and determination and help from his friends, he has proved all of these predications false. So it was a story of determination, courage and strength. But it juxtaposed the personal situations of Mick Fanning the big strong surfing champion and Miller the wheelchair bound quadriplegic. It showed that both men faced ordeals and challenges on a daily basis but Fanning drew strength from the situation of Barney Miller and the way that through

personal courage and self belief, he had overcome challenges far greater than those required to be a

champion sportsman.

He said that we should watch the type of people we surround ourselves with.

That negative people (haters are going to hate) will only drag you down, but positive people will ensure that you achieve whatever goals that you set yourself.

The story finished by announcing that Fanning was going to face his demons by surfing in the same waters that he was attached by a shark last year, he put his ability to do this down to the inspiration that Barney proved for him.

As Bruce Lee said "a life lived in fear is a life only half lived".

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Room Five

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Recently I began rereading an old favourite novel of mine Charles Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities".

It is the famous opening lines that always catch my attention

"They were the best of times, they were the worst of times…" It is a novel that deals with themes of social justice, self sacrifice and resurrection (of the spirit).

It is a work that also deals with the idea of perceptions and the concept that while for some people times may be great for others they are terrible.

The resurrection of Sydney Carton in the novel focuses on our ability to value something not by what we (personally) may gain from it but rather if something is right.

This is something that we need to teach our children, for in this day of being told to place their own

interests above all else, the concept that we may need to sacrifice something for others with no personal gain is not easy for them to grasp.

It is a difficult concept for children to grasp, yet, we as New Zealanders love team sport and team sport is about giving up personal gain for the greater glory.

As a Catholic school we obviously bear testament to the Jesus’s resurrection and the ultimate example of someone making a sacrifice for the greater good.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

One of the key conflicts that continually happens in the world is that of tradition versus innovation.

Tradition is obviously continuing to do something because we have always done it that way. Innovation is when we change something to improve it. Tradition is saying if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it, but also we are strong because we know what is to be done and what is required of us. Innovation is saying things may be working OK but they could be better.

I read a story yesterday about how quickly photography changed due to digital cameras. Some of you will remember well the old 24 or 36 exposure rolls of film. The button was never pushed on a photo until it was perfect because it was one less photo that could be taken and one more development to be paid for. Now with digital cameras, you take as many photos as you like and then decide which, if any that you would like to print.

In a short period of time: selling cameras, films and developing films became a very restricted industry, Was there anything wrong with the old way of taking photos? I would say no, but I think that all photo takers would say the new way was better.

None of us can see the future, none of us know what the world would look like in a year let alone ten years.

All we can do as parents and teachers is to prepare our pupils the best that we can so that they may face the future with confidence.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Golf Lessons



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As this is the last newsletter for the term, it is a good time to thank all of the people who have helped us to enjoy such a successful and busy term. To all of the wonderful supporters who help on outings and camps, coaching, attended meetings, serve on committees, and help out in the classrooms, thank you for giving up your time and energy to support our school.
Road Safety

Road and traffic safety especially at the end of the day continues to be a major concern. We still have people: leaving their vehicles in the drop off zone between 2.30pm and 3.30pm, people driving too fast on the school driveway, people double parking, parking in mobility areas (when they are not entitled to) or parking in no parking areas. As a one off these things may not seem a big deal but we need to remember that we are a school and that young children are impulsive and don’t always think before they act, so we need to err on the side of extreme caution to ensure that all of our pupils stay safe.

One accident is one too many and one that will effect all involved for the rest of their lives. So please while it may slightly add to your pick up time, obey the rules as mentioned above.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

What an exciting week last week was. The visit from four of the Highlanders rugby team was very popular and the four players: Marty Banks, Gareth Evans, Greg Pleasants-Tate, and Malakai Fekitoa were great ambassadors for their team and sport.

Perhaps the highlight was when asked who he looked up to when he was younger Malakai Fekitoa said his father. He then went onto say all that his father had done for him. It was great for the pupils to hear a role model of theirs being very humble, and noting how much someone in a role that we often take for granted, has done for him.

As a friend of mine pointed out on Saturday, cricket finished two weeks ago and rugby starts today—indeed a number of winter codes have started.

Speaking as a parent who has been (and still is) heavily involved in children's sport it is a good time to

reflect on just who the sport is for and how important that it is in the greater scheme. I have witnessed a parent who became so obsessed with his sons success and promotion in a sport that he behaved so badly towards coaches and selectors that his son was never selected in teams that he should have made. It was the ultimate example of cutting off his nose to spite his face, and his son lost out.

I was at a representative managers debriefing a couple of years ago and the high performance coach in this code (and probably one of the regions top coaches) said that he saw all teams were developmental up to the under 18 grade. That means it’s about developing skills, having fun, and learning to be a part of a group right through Primary and Secondary.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

The Highlanders

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As we begin ‘Holy Week’ and move through the end of Lent and into the season of Easter, it is a good time to focus on how the ideas of Christianity are visible in our modern world.

Each time we come into contact with other people we need to think of some of those important themes that Jesus spoke of: the ‘golden rule’ (do to others as you would have them do to you); let he who is with-out sin cast the first stone, and to learn that forgiveness is a key to moving on for both the sinner and the sinned against.

If we can apply these ideas into our lives we will become for more optimist and happier in our own lives. We will develop far more positive relationships with others and people will see us in a more positive light.

To really attempt to live a life close to Jesus we need apply all of these. Key thoughts all of the time and not just to pick out the bits we want to apply.

Treat other people as you want them to treat you, don’t hurt other people even if you think they have done wrong and to genuinely forgive people who do thing that hurt us.

If we do this then we don’t waste our time and energy on things that we really can’t change. But rather we change how we react to these things, in a positive way.

So as you celebrate Easter it is a great time to reflect on how the Christian message can help us to lead happier lives.

Have a happy and a holy Easter.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Last week I was looking through some old files and I found a photograph of a class of children that I taught in London. The children in the photo were all aged about eight at the time.

Incidentally I was speaking to a friend who had also taught at the school at about the same time. We were talking about some of the pupils in the class and she said that she had heard that one of the boys in the class had joined the British army. This is not a boy who you would expect to be a soldier. When I googled this boys name a sheet came up from the British Military saying that this officer had been killed while on active duty in Afghanistan. The article was in the form of an obituary and it spoke in some depth of his schooling, his tertiary studies, his travel and his career in journalism and in the army.

Tragically he was only 27 years old when he was killed while on an infantry patrol by a roadside bomb.

He was obviously a young man who had achieved a great deal during his short life and judging by the

tributes that were paid to him he affected a great number of people in a very positive way.

Paul, as this was the boys name, led a life crammed full of action and achieved more in his short life than many do who live to be a hundred. He was born into a life of some privilege but rather than be content to live a comfortable life in this setting he challenged himself in many ways.

As a teacher, that is one of the attributes that we would like all of our pupils to possess; the confidence to challenge ones self and to become truly life long learners.

Lieutenant Paul Mervis

2nd Battalion, The Rifles

Born London 30/09/1981

Died Sangin Afghanistan 12/6/2003


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

During the last two days of last week Mrs Dillon and I were at the Diocese Principals and DRS

conference. This was a very informative couple of days lead by Brendan Spillane. One key message that came out of the conference was to remember to celebrate success.

In this busy world it is always so easy to focus solely on the negative, the glass is half empty, but the glass is also half full.

In life it’s not how we deal with our successes that part is usually easy but rather what we want to teach our children, is how we deal with the times that we don’t get the result we desire.

When we aren’t selected in a team, how do we react.

My daughter Grace has enjoyed a lot of success in her sporting endeavours, but the time I believe that she gained the most as a person from sport was a time when she didn’t get selected into a team that she trialled for. She on missing selection, had two options: suck in her pride and aim to be the best player in the B Team or throw her toys out of the cot and refuse to play for the lower team. She chose I am pleased to say, option A. She was the team MVP and has gone on to enjoy a lot of success. But the key lesson was she celebrated being in a team, being a leader, being well coached and winning. She didn’t focus on the negative.

Our school National standard results are a huge source of pride for us so this week to help us celebrate successes I have included them for you also to also share in this success.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan
National Standards Data Summary

Year Writing Reading Maths
2014 – Whole School
National Average
2015 – Whole School 81.8% 89.2% 82.6%

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

What a great spell of weather we are enjoying—the weather at times over the weekend was almost tropical.

It was great to see a number of parents at our information evening last Wednesday night. A school is

always a very busy place with a huge number of things happening, often at the same time.

The key purpose of the information evening and the information letters that the teachers put out at the beginning of the term is to inform the parents about: the expectations that they have for your children, the goals that they want to achieve, how they are going to achieve the goals and what events and activities you can expect for your child to take part in over the term.

Communication is a key part of any organisation and that is why at St Mary’s we put a lot of effort into communicating with our parents in a range of ways, the information evening was the first. There are also two interviews and two written reports about your child’s progress. We have a weekly school newsletter an informative website, a Facebook page, a termly BOT newsletter and also teachers send out a termly newsletter. We also highlight key events by sending out special newsletters and emails. All our staff are available for other informal meetings and during the course of a year we run several parent information evenings as well as a rigorous consultation programme.

So please use these wide ranging communication avenues to ensure you are well informed about our school.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As educators and indeed as parents we are always looking at ways that we can help our children to obtain a better education and become more engaged and involved citizens.

One simple way and indeed a way that is the focus of a long term push by the Ministry of Education is to ensure that when ever possible your child is at school.

When they are unwell obviously they should be at home getting better. If something comes up that is an extra ordinary event and can’t be done during holiday time that is understandable.

But studies show that if a child is absent for more than 10% of the school year it will have a big impact: academically and socially.

The Ministry of Education’s slogan to support better attendance is "attendance matters", and it does.

Our school goal for 2016 is to have a greater number of our pupils attending over 90% that is being at school for at least 345 half days this year or being absent for 19 days or less.

Our opening school Mass alongside our Whanau picnic and fun day were very successful especially the games afternoon which was very well supported. Thank you to all those who came along.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well that was a very pleasant and restful long weekend. I think sometimes when you are standing by a quiet river at dusk casting out a fishing line (although in two years I haven’t caught anything) it is a great time to relax and reflect on what is important.

As a teacher and a parent I tend to often think of things that relate to learning and especially the skills and values that will enable our children to have a great life.

The one that struck me was that they need to be honest and truthful. Honesty is a hard skill to work with because it sometimes means telling people what they may not want to hear. So an important part of

honesty is about the way that you communicate.

You can be accurate and totally honest but if the message you deliver is too blunt then the message

recipient will simply mark you as an enemy, and ignore your message. If you don’t make the message firm enough they will simply "fob you off" as not important.

So the skill mainly by our actions that we need to teach our kids is to be honest, to say to someone's face what you would say behind their back and to be sensitive when delivering a message.

Personally I respect people who approach me with a criticism, then face to face the points can be

discussed. Like most people I have no respect for those who deal in gossip and innuendo.

Honesty is the way that our society functions. Scientific experience would be of no use without honest

evidence and our relationships with each other become dysfunctional without honesty.

As Williams Shakespeare said "No legacy is so rich as honesty".

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

Welcome to all the new children at St Mary’s School
A thought for the week

Always dream and shoot higher than you know how to. Don’t bother just to be better than your

contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. -William Faulkner

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Welcome back to everyone for the new school year. We start the year with a roll of 137 this is the largest beginning of the year roll that we have had for many years. We welcome a number of new pupils and their families.

During the last month our family went through a major milestone, Sean our son left home to go flatting!

While he is a second year law student at University and is 19 years old and only lives 10 minutes from home, this is still a major milestone. One bedroom is empty, one place at the table (well for most meals) is vacant. Yes the washing line still carries the same load (at the moment anyway) but things have changed.

Life is like that, just when we get used to something, it changes. Two of my favourite musicians Glen Frey (of the Eagles) and David Bowie passed away during the last month.

Their music was the music of my youth, my family get sick of hearing "Taking it Easy" or "Ziggy Stardust".

As I reflect on these changes a theme comes through. Changes happen and we are remembered for our contributions (be they songs or being a good part of a family).

So as we move on into 2016, we should focus on making the most of each and every opportunity and to use a Latin quote: occupare momento—seize the moment.

Have a great year

Mike Brosnahan