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Jun 272017

A Kuranui student has been selected for the National Shakespeare School’s Production 2017 and has the chance to be picked to perform in the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s (SGCNZ) Young Shakespeare Company at the Globe in London.

It was Tommy Laybourn’s outstanding performance in his supporting role as ‘Simondes’ in ‘Pericles: The Prince of Tyre’ that won over selectors at the recent Sheilah Winn Shakespeare national finals. A role that also gained him an award for the performance.

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Tommy Laybourn as ‘Simondes’ in ‘Pericles: The Prince of Tyre’

The Kuranui Head Boy is one of 20 students selected from the finals to take part in a week-long workshop during the spring holiday in early October.

Laybourn began dancing at the age if 5, but his performance and arts teacher, Juanita McLellan believes it’s his total commitment that has made him a stand out.

“When you see Tommy on stage in his role he is 100% committed to what’s going on, he’s never just standing there,” she explained. “He’s very enigmatic
on stage and he’s very captivating.

“You’re drawn to him because he moves very well. It’s more than his background in dancing, it’s because he thinks a lot about what he’s doing, he puts a lot of effort into it.

“In his role as Simondes, he spent many hours working on just taiaha before going to the finals to get everything absolutely accurate. It matters to Tommy to get it right.”

Laybourn really enjoyed the cultural side of his performance. “At first I was doing something without any training. I watched YouTube videos and I had researched and looked at karakias and taiaha before I went to the regionals, but I didn’t really know it that well because I’d never been taught it,” he acknowledged.

“But between regionals and nationals we had an ex-Kuranui student come in and he taught me some taiaha moves. I practiced that so much.

“I thought the ti tikanga māori was important to get right because you didn’t want to do something that’s not culturally authentic or accurate in front of all the people.

The last time a Kuranui student performed at the Globe was in 2014 when Civic Cruz was selected to travel to London, 10 years before that Melissa Reeve was chosen.

“The selectors will be looking for people from the group who can work together with other people, be helpful and all that stuff to select them to perform at the Globe, in London,” said McLellan.

“New Zealand students are the only school students in the entire world who get a chance to perform on the actual Globe stage, everybody else has to go through either the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Globe Theatre.”

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Tommy Laybourn as Hamlet

Laybourn said getting the call from Dawn Sanders, the CEO of SGCNZ was like getting a call from the Simon Cowell of Shakespeare. “I was at work at the Pod in Greytown, my phone had been on silent and I just got back from walking the kids.

“There was text from Mrs McLellan and all it said was ‘Yay!’. Then there was a missed call from an unknown number and another text from Dawn saying ‘When can I call you? It’s urgent’ and I was like no way, that just seems too crazy,” Laybourn said.

“Performing will be awesome I just can’t wait to do that! It’s going to be incredible!” he added.

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Jun 252017

Kuranui senior students had a taste of tramping one of the Tararua’s highest peaks during a recent two-day expedition across the Mount Holdsworth-Jumbo Circuit.

Conquering the mountain is something that’s integral to Kiwi DNA, and if there’s one thing that makes the Wairarapa a great place to study, it’s the proximity to the great outdoors and in a region that offers a wealth of mountains, rivers and sea to explore.

Tramping Holdsworth Kuranui 20170607 135742

The tramp is part of a 17-week outdoor education programme at the college and also includes activities such as camping, low and high ropes, and white water rafting.

The course is offered at both NCEA Level 2 and 3 and is designed to give students the skills for being active outdoors, as well as helping them develop a good appreciation on how to stay safe.

“Tramping aims is to get students to demonstrate tramping and navigation skills, as well as bringing with them the appropriate food and gear so they can stay overnight in the bush,” explains Kuranui P.E and Health Team Leader, Jane Russell.

Day one for the 23 Level 3 students meant a walk up to Powell Hut for the night. Day two began with an early start and involved an ascent of the 1450m high summit of Mount Holdsworth, a steady walk across the tops through clouds and then the steep descent that’s Rain Gauge Spur to Atiwhakatu Hut and then back to the Holdsworth road end along the scenic Atiwhakatu Valley.

Previously 16 Level 2 students tramped via Rocky Lookout up to Powell Hut for an overnight tramp.

“It was very wet and cold but the students’ enthusiasm and never-give-up attitude got them through.

“In the morning, they decided to tramp to the summit to conquer the mountain and were rewarded with enough snow to make a couple of snowballs and snowmen,” added Russell.

As well as appreciating the Wairarapa outdoors, students also had the opportunity to gain credits at NCEA.

Jun 192017

Last Thursday, Kuranui College held a mufti day with a difference. Instead of donating the usual gold coin, students were asked to bring in a can or an item of non-perishable food for the Featherston Foodbank.

The fundraiser was devised by a group of college friends as part of a recent leadership course. The nine students came together for the annual three-day YMCA Leadership Camp, which took place earlier this year at Camp Kaitoke.

“Me and a few of my friends are Year 10 student leaders and we thought we’d give the camp a go as we wanted to develop our leadership skills. We also thought it’d be great to get our friends to come along as well,” explained student leader Abby Saywell.

The Year 10 leadership group - Abby Saywell, Isabella Walker, Isla Alexander, Bella Herbert, Henry Isaacs, Connor Turton, Willy Dennison and Eddina Doherty.

The Year 10 leadership group – Abby Saywell, Isabella Walker, Isla Alexander, Bella Herbert, Henry Isaacs, Connor Turton, Willy Dennison and Eddina Doherty.

The students have to complete a project to demonstrate and utilise their new leadership skills and the group felt that helping their local community was a top priority.

“We were originally going to do a quiz night, but we thought it might be easier to do a mufti day instead.

“We wanted to raise funds for the Foodbank because we wanted to help out our community and the Foodbank distributes food across the whole of South Wairarapa.”

With over 28 mentor classes at the college donating almost 15 cans each, the group estimate they have been able to provide over 400 cans of food.

“It’s been good to give back to the community,” added Abby.

The Year 10 leadership group also includes Isabella Walker, Isla Alexander, Bella Herbert, Henry Isaacs, Connor Turton, Willy Dennison and Eddina Doherty.

Jun 182017

A Kuranui College science student has won a rare chance to meet Emmy Award-winning astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson.

An expert on star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies and the structure of our Milky Way, the American best-selling author will be presenting his own guide ‘A Cosmic Perspective’ to a packed-out audience at the Horncastle Arena Christchurch, on 4 July. 

Kuranui’s Amberleigh Rose entered the competition after noticing a poster displayed in her biology classroom. “I love science! The idea of the competition was to submit something that showed your love for science,” she explained.

Kuranui science student Amberlie Rose will meet  Emmy Award-winning astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Kuranui science student Amberlie Rose will meet Emmy Award-winning astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“I thought I’d combine my two favourite things, writing and science, so I wrote a poem. I wrote about how I liked to draw inspiration from the things that I’m learning, especially in my physics class which is my favourite science subject.

“I like the things that I learn in my science classes because you can apply them outside the classroom.

“I entered the competition with no expectations or anything and I won, but I didn’t really understand the prize at first. It’s actually way cooler than I’d thought.”

The year 12 student will join 29 other students from across the country for the show. The prize also includes a pre-show meal, transport, accommodation and a tour of University of Canterbury’s new $200 million Regional Science and Innovation Centre, where prizewinners will also meet with academic staff.

“I think this will be a good experience because I get to go to the University as well, and I get to look around their new science labs, so hopefully it will give me more of an idea of what I’d be getting into if I went into the science field when I leave school.

“I’m interested in the anthropology and sociology and stuff like that, but I’m really keen to learn more about astrophysics,” she added.

Jun 182017

The Kuranui Player of the Month for May is Jack Morgan.

Jack plays as striker in the 1st XI Boys Hockey team, and he was just named in the Wairarapa U15 Boys Hockey Representative Team.

Jack scores a month’s free gym membership, courtesy of Strength Nation!

Kuranui coaches and managers, make sure you get your after-match reports in to Donald Yee, nominating your player of the match so that they can go into the draw for next month.

Kuranui Player Of The Month - Jack Morgan

Jun 142017

Kuranui College’s 1st XI Boys football team is aiming to regain the Wairarapa Secondary Schools football title after narrowly missing out in a tight final last season.

The boys held the Wairarapa Secondary Schools trophy in both 2014 and 2015 and are determined to bring it home in 2017. They have already made a great start to this season, securing a number of important wins against strong teams such as Rathkeale and Wairarapa College, and are currently sitting at the top of the table.

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To help with their campaign they are taking part in the NZ Secondary Schools football tournament in New Plymouth in September.

“Over the years it’s been a bit of a dream to get the boys to this tournament,” said Kuranui Boys 1st XI Coach Wayne Brasell. “The boys have a fantastic team spirit and enjoy being together. I know they can’t wait to get away and challenge themselves on the pitch against what will be some very tough college sides from around the country.”

The college has implemented a strategic focus around its sporting codes and this has resulted in huge growth in the number of students who have taken up football. For a college of just over 400 students, it now fields three boys and two girls teams.

“Kuranui has been providing us with solid support over recent seasons and that’s been reflected in the results on the field and the number of students now playing the game. We have had to squeeze in another pitch on the college grounds to accommodate the number of boys and girls teams.

“There’s a good bunch of parents and college staff involved in setting the direction of all sports codes at the college so I know that football will keep improving,” added Brasell.

The Kuranui Boys 1st Xl boys squad includes Jordan Blaythwayt, Tyler Brasell, Mason Bretherton, Bailey Edney, Sam Hunter, Brock Loader, Aaron Herrick, Liam Labett, Lincoln Williams, Thomas Watson, Connor Turton, Mack Regnault , Ben Saywell , Jordan Walker and is captained by Sam Locke. The team is coached by Wayne Brasell and Minty Hunter.

The team are looking for sponsorship and fundraising opportunities to help with their trip away. If you can assist: contact Wayne on 0211057088 | bslweq08 [at] xtra [dot] co [dot] nz, or Minty on 0211228903 | minty [at] nectarine [dot] co [dot] nz


Jun 132017

In a tough game for our girls this week, Kuranui A defeated Wai Col B 17-15.

Kuranui showed a lot of spirit and teamwork to come away with the win.

Notable efforts from the defensive pair of Tylah Higgison and Wanita Namana, with Tylah being named Player of the Day.

Come down to the netball courts at Kuranui on Saturday 24th of June and Saturday 1st of July, where the girls will be fundraising to get to the Lower North Island Secondary Schools Netball Tournament in September.

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Netball Kuranui 10 06 17 0330
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Netball Kuranui 10 06 17 0321

Jun 122017

Kuranui College students were once again awarded the coveted Student Leadership Award at the recent Stage Challenge competition held at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua.

Out of a strong field of 16 schools from the Greater Wellington region, Kuranui came out on top for leadership. This is the only award that is presented to one school in each region and is testament to an established culture of student-led performances at the college.

Performance and arts teacher Juanita McLellan is understandably proud of the way her students consistently step up. “Last year Georgia Wilson was given the award for managing the highly successful ‘Tere te Tapahi’, and this year Charlotte Penman gained the award for overseeing the performance of 40 students and 30-odd helpers with ‘Weeping Waters’,” she said.

Kuranui Arts Students Take The Lead - Jessica Buckham, Juanita McLellan, Amber Spicer, Thomas Laybourn and Charlotte Penman

Jessica Buckham, Juanita McLellan, Amber Spicer, Thomas Laybourn and Charlotte Penman.

This award was one of eight awards out of a possible 10, including concept, drama, set, choreography, make-up and costume, and lighting and soundtrack.

During the same week, many of the students were involved in the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare finals, whilst also tackling their mock NCEA exams. A total of 32 students were involved in the performance and the group only had one rehearsal when everyone came together.

“The biggest challenge is everyone is so busy and they are all in everything, which is also pretty cool because they are all so keen to be involved,” added McLellan.

“No single person could put that scene together and we had great support from our local community, including Suzanne Murphy and Paora Ammunson.

“We also had a massive crew backstage on the night because it took half an hour to put on all the moko on the performers.

“The college has an introspective group of students and while lots of other schools were doing super violent, super intense and over the top funny scenes – ours was just this beautiful story.

“It really wasn’t about entering to win an award, it was more about telling a story that was important to hear.”

The students were given the Assessors Award for the integration of tikanga Māori into their performance of ‘Pericles’ and Kuranui Head Boy Thomas Laybourn was presented with an award for his outstanding performance in the supporting role of ‘Simondes’.