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May 282018

For Kuranui teacher Vern Grant, being ‘press-ganged’ into supervising an outdoor education trip gave him a moment of clarity and ignited a passion for gliding.

“I was hooked,” Grant explains. “From that first lift, I was impressed. It was such a neat thing to do.”

So much so, that Grant now offers aviation classes at Kuranui College, one of only three colleges in New Zealand to do so, and the only secondary school in New Zealand to offer glider flight training at NCEA.

“I saw a need due to the growing shortage of pilots around the area. Students who study aviation can use this as a springboard into other areas such as air traffic control, flight attending, fixed wing aircraft and aircraft loading,” he says.

Glider 1

Inernational student Anje Runge went ‘solo’ recently.

In collaboration with the NZQA and Service IQ, Grant has designed a course of credits for the National Certificate in Aviation Level 2. These standards concentrate on general aspects like aviation requirements and regulations, history and gliding units.

Past students have become airline and helicopter pilots, with one even becoming an instructor. No previous experience is required to complete the aviation course, just common sense, and a willingness to solve problems and make decisions under pressure. Students are given scenarios and practise landings in paddocks in preparation for when things may go wrong.

Glider flying in Wairarapa is ideal because of the topography of the land. The large flat paddocks are great for landing in and the wave lift from the Tasman Sea over the Tararuas, give the gliders the needed lift.

“At 2000ft, if you catch the wave, you can keep going up, like being in an elevator, you can go for miles. You could fly to Gisborne or down to Omarama,” but Grant warns, “The trick is getting back!”

Grant believes his passion for gliding comes down to perspective when you’re flying. “The ground looks so different from up above, the river and colours change, it’s a different view from ground level.”

The course takes up to two years to complete and at the end of it, students can become a qualified glider pilot.

May 222018

Kuranui College will be home to a new community multi-sport and clubroom facility to service the entire South Wairarapa community, if the council agree to partner with the college to make it a reality.

South Wairarapa District Council is considering a proposal to fund a feasibility study for an indoor sport facility and sports hub on the grounds of the college, following a submission made by Kuranui’s Board of Trustees, with strong backing from Sport NZ, Greytown Trust Lands Trust and Greytown Sport and Leisure.

Sports Facility

Photo: Dave Lintott

The existing 831sqm Kuranui College gym is a ‘leaky’ building with earthquake issues and is too small to meet current and future demand. The Ministry of Education has indicated that they are willing to repair or rebuild 556sqm of the gym, but Kuranui doesn’t have funds to do the same to the remaining 275sqm, which is community-owned.

The Kuranui Board believes that the $2 million cost of these repairs could be better invested towards building a new state-of-the-art sports facility, which would serve the entire community.

Belinda Cordwell, Chair of the Kuranui Board of Trustees, feels this is an opportunity too good to be missed. “Kuranui is at the very heart of the South Wairarapa community, with 80% of students bussing to the college from all across the district,” she explained.

“The current situation presents a once in a generation opportunity for several local and national agencies to collaborate to build an indoor sport/clubroom facility to benefit the South Wairarapa community as a whole. To invest $2million to repair and reduce the size of Kuranui’s gym, which is already too small to meet the current requirements of our stakeholders, is clearly not a path the Board of Trustees wish to go down.”

“Sports participation is increasing rapidly in Greytown, but there are not enough facilities for existing clubs and teams, in addition to the growing needs of our school. Multi-use sports ‘hubs’ are where developments are heading all across NZ, and we are very fortunate that the Ministry of Education is open to providing land for a community facility free of charge.”

Greytown Trust Lands Trust (GTLT), which funds sport and the promotion of education in the town, is keen to become a project partner. “GTLT is looking towards this kind of long-term partnership and funding ongoing maintenance and management, rather than large capital projects going forward,” said Chairman Sid Kempton. “This is a very exciting project for Greytown, which we are keen to support as it will make a huge impact in our community.”

The Sport NZ submission to the South Wairarapa District Council Long-Term Plan, highlighted the benefits of an active community. “There is a strong link between sport, improved social capital, social cohesion and community identity,” it stated. “There is a positive association between physical activity and academic achievement and we’re very supportive of this project.”

May 172018

Kuranui students helped eight members of the local community to solve the mysteries of modern digital technology during an inaugral lunchtime IT workshop held at the college on Wednesday.

Funded by a grant from Greytown Trust Lands Trust, this joint initiative with the college and the Greytown Community Board is open to elderly residents who are experiencing difficulties using devices such as cell phones, tablets and computers.

A Kuranui food technology class made sandwiches, and baked scones and sausage rolls, while other students organised tea and coffee for the visitors. The participants were also offered transport to and from the college in the school van.

Kuranui IT Aged Project 11

Students Jackson Harbers, Jayden Rees, Willie Dennison, Samuel Mueller, Reed Miller, Luke Walker and Austen Dale  made up the team of tech ninjas on hand to help.

Greytown resident, Dawn Dryland, thought the workshop was a great idea. “It was a lovely occasion. Having young people helping the elderly is marvelous, and the students were just wonderful,” she said.

“I learnt more yesterday with Jayden, in such a short time, than I ever have in the past with other people showing me. The students just seemed to have the knack of being able to explain all sorts of things on the devices.”

Kuranui Principal, Simon Fuller, is delighted that the college and its students have a unique opportunity to engage with the local community. “It’s important that our young people appreciate our elderly community and this type of collaboration is a great opportunity to build stonger connections between the generations.”

If you require more information or would like to book one or two of the sessions, please contact Ann Rainford, Vice Chair of Greytown Community Board on 06 304 9960 or Maree Patten Deputy Principal, on 06 304 9116.

Kuranui IT Aged Project 10

Kuranui IT Aged Project 4

May 162018

The first thing you notice about Kuranui’s Teacher in Charge of Performing Arts, Juanita McLellan, is her laugh and her smile. The second is the way the students flock to her like moths to a flame.

Juanita Web

Juanita McLellan

Her rapport with students is obvious and you can tell she cares deeply for them and they her. Her students would tell you her classes are vibrant and fun, where they are free to be themselves. “Fostering an inclusive environment is very important to me, because that’s when you see the students thrive,” explains McLellan. “They are honest and forthright, and it is interesting to see how they process things and what marvellous ideas they bring to the table.”

McLellan teaches both History and Drama, which sums up two of her obsessions. They complement each other as she is always interested in knowing why events happened, how they started and why it matters today. This is often the basis for devising drama and learning ‘by doing’ is also a big part of Kuranui culture.

Performing Arts has gone from strength to strength, and now with the new and innovative Ignite curriculum in the Junior School, it is becoming even more popular as students are encouraged to choose personalised programmes of study.

Having spent her teenage years as a student at the South Wairarapa College, McLellan returned to Kuranui as a teacher almost 18 years ago. Her own life is one that promotes living outside the box. She now lives in Featherston with her husband, Dilip Solanki, who also taught at Kuranui for a time, and their beagle dogs Rocky and Ruby.

She has a post-grad diploma in Astrophysics, has seen and read the original Treaty of Waitangi and in her spare time she likes to write knitting patterns. “I am an acquired taste,” she adds.

In July, she is off to the Globe Theatre in London to perform A Winter’s Tale. Not many people are selected for this rare opportunity and it is only open to teachers from New Zealand. McLellan was thrilled when chosen because she will also be performing alongside one of her former students, Tommy Laybourn. “It’ll be an experience of a life time.”

Pericles WebOne of her proudest moments at Kuranui College was fundraising and taking students to London and Paris to visit iconic heritage sites. Another moment took place last year when her students performed their 15-minute Shakespeare piece, Pericles.

“All of the community got involved, not just the students. We had local Iwi and parents contributing to our performance to make it an authentic piece. It was very moving and fabulous to have the support from our community.”

May 112018

Kuranui College year 13 student William Taber has once again received the honour of selection for the National Youth Orchestra, playing the double bass. This huge achievement has come with honours as he will also be second chair.

William, who comes from a strong musical background, said that this is an exciting opportunity for him as he enjoys making music and it’s something that his whole family participates in. His aim this time is to increase his repertoire and orchestral skills. The week-long course will be held in the July school holidays at the Michael Fowler centre in Wellington. During his time there he will be challenged by rehearsing for a public concert at the end of the week.

Will Taber

William Taber

Aside from the double bass, William is also proficient in piano and will be auditioning for the New Zealand School of Music later this year. “It’s pretty intense,” William explains, “because everyone there is a top student and we all want to get in.” If successful he hopes that the study will take him on a career path in both playing and composing music.

“I’m happy to be playing music, in any form, whether it be orchestral or in another field, just as long as I’m making music.” William loves fishing and camping when he’s not playing, but he advises any budding musician to “practice, practice, practice. You’ve got to put in the hours to achieve your dreams.”