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Tēnā koutou, I am Carmel, the new Head of Music at Springs Waiōrea, and I have returned to a school that I loved when I was the singing teacher here in 2014-2015. I arrived just in time to see our Chamber Group and Jazz Band achieve amazing results at the KBB Festival, and Year 11 band Buzz reach the Smokefree Rockquest National Finals. I have clearly stepped into an amazing musical legacy, started by Margaret Robertson!

I am working in a brilliant team with Margaret and Victoria Chellew, and our 10 unbelievably talented itinerant instrument teachers. I am also really enjoying collaborating with the whole Arts team here. Junior Arts Festival was my first big event with them and it was a privilege to be involved in such a stunning concert. I enjoyed putting together our Junior Singing Group for the occasion and am delighted to say they will be continuing next year as the school choir. I am looking forward to the seniors returning to bring all our singers together.

Another big success has been hiring Tim Stewart as our Brass Itinerant Teacher. He is returning to his roots – he started his band Supergroove while he was at school here (back when it was called Seddon High School). His engaging teaching style has already completely revived our Brass programme at school and we look forward to these students filtering through to our groups.

Next year will also see the introduction of some new extra-curricular opportunities such as a Musical Theatre group and afterschool band mentoring. All students are welcome in our music groups and I will send out more information about joining at the start of the year, along with details on signing up for instrument lessons.

Lastly, I feel so privileged to work within our unique co-governance model of schooling. I love that Te Whare Pūoro, the music department, is a place where talented students from both schools come together. I want to offer as many opportunities for them to develop and showcase their talents as possible. I once spoke to one of our Year 10 Waiōrea students, Huia Johnston-Miles, about wanting to start collecting Taonga Puoro (traditional Māori instruments) to use in the department. To my astonishment and delight she took that to heart and has gifted us her Pūkaea, Ōrea, that she has been carving this year under the guidance of Matua Uekaha Dunn, to start the collection. This generous gift symbolises so much of what is special about this place, and these students. I am honoured to be here.

Thank you to everyone who has given me such a warm welcome including staff, whānau and my incredible students. Bring on 2024!

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