Torbay School Learning Powers – RIC


Tena Koutou e te Whānau

This will be my last newsletter for 2023, a year that has been refreshing and exciting, a year of further development for our school both inside and outside the classroom and a year that has been uninterrupted to any great extent. There has been a sense of positivity and normality around the school, and we have been able to achieve a great deal.

Some of the highlights for me have been:

  • The effectiveness of our PTA who once again have provided us with a wonderful array of community and fundraising events. The PTA over the last two years have raised $90,000 for the building and development of our new Garden area. There is still a significant amount of work to do to complete the full plan, however we have made good progress and I look forward to the wonderful work we can do using this resource in 2024. I want to thank Michelle Goldfinch and her PTA for their enormous efforts, skill and enthusiasm in contributing a great deal to Torbay in 2024.
  • The arrival of our 4 new classrooms for Kawau Whānau. These classrooms replace the old rooms 7 -10 and provide Kawau with long awaited new flexible learning environments to match the rest of our school. I want to thank the Board for their support in making this project happen. We have worked hard with the Ministry to finance this project and without a board who are willing to think creatively and work steadfastly to achieve goals we would not have completed this exciting development.
  • The return of international students to our classrooms. It is wonderful to once again see children from other cultures coming to spend time in our school, sharing their cultures and gaining English language experience in a rich environment. We also welcome the fees from these students as they help us ensure that we are able to maintain our staffing levels, particularly learning assistants, and provide top quality facilities for our community. I have to thank Susan Ye for the enormous amount of time she has dedicated to ensure this programme is back up and running.
  • The work our staff have put in reviewing and refining what is happening inside our classrooms, developing our local curriculum framework and embracing the curriculum refresh delivered by the Ministry of Education. This year the focus has been on the introduction of the new Aotearoa NZ Histories Curriculum which I am proud to say has been embraced and delivered extremely well by our teachers. Next year our focus, in line with the Ministries focus, is on Literacy and Numeracy, including the teaching of English as a Second Language.
  • Our Arts and Poetry exhibition in term 3 which culminated in our hall being filled with people admiring the wonderful art and poetry produced by our children. This was a team effort with every child and every member of our staff working extremely hard, to present an excellent display. I would also like to acknowledge Nic Davies our Head of Arts for her leadership in bringing this exhibition together.
  • The introduction of our Tuakana Teina big buddy programme. This programme teams up some of our older children with our new entrant children. It involves visits to ECE centres by our older children to get to know the new children starting at Torbay School and then continue that relationship for two years. This has been a fantastic initiative developed by Sarah Kilkolly in her role as Kāhui Ako across school lead and supported by Kylie Wilson our Tiri Tiri leader. Thank you, Sarah and Kylie, for your vision and hard work.

I could list many other achievements including the development of our performing arts rotations, the very high levels of both participation and excellence of our Kapa Haka group, the introduction of a junior Kapa Haka group,  our achievements of our various sports teams, the return of our Whānau hui group, our waterwise programme, our garden to table programme, our Future Problem Solving and Gifted Education programme, our outdoor education camps ………however there is not the time or space here to even list them all.

Our greatest single achievement is the day-to-day engaging programmes delivered in our classrooms by a wonderful group of educators.

These achievements come about because we have a Board, a community, and a staff that trust and believe in each other, providing the emotional environment that enables us to care for and deliver our programmes to our wonderful Tamariki who never fail to inspire. Thank you all!


As usual at the end of the year we have one or two staff changes. After 9 years of service Sam Boriboun is leaving to take up a teaching position at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Raki Pae Whenua. While we are sad to see Sam go, I applaud him for taking another step in his teaching career and wish him well in his new adventure.  Thank you, Sam, for your great work across so many areas while you have been at Torbay.

I congratulate JoAnne Sutton who has been appointed to our staff to replace Sam in Kawau Whānau for 2024 and beyond. JoAnne is a very experienced teacher and has been working alongside Vanessa Mitschak in Rakino for the last term. Welcome aboard JoAnne!

I would also like to thank Ada Rooney and Jolandie Bothma for their service this year. Ada and Jolandie have filled roles teaching in our new entrants’ classes as our role has grown throughout the year. These are important roles, and it is often difficult to get quality people to fill them in the middle of the year. We have been very lucky to have Jolandie and Ada this year. These are fixed term positions that finish at the end of this term. Both Ada and Jolandie have done a terrific job over the latter part of the year, and I wish them all the best for the future.

We have three Learning assistants leaving us Amelia Sherman, Tim Northover and Addison Stewart who are all moving on to further their careers in other areas. I thank them for their service this year and wish them well in their chosen fields and future endeavours.

I am pleased to announce that Chanel Torbet has accepted a fulltime Learning Assistant role for next year. Chanel has worked throughout this year in Rakino facilitating our garden programme, we are pleased she has joined us enabling us to expand our programme into other year groups.

We are currently advertising for two new Learning assistants for 2024. Please direct anybody you know that may be interested to the SEEK website where the positions are advertised.

Celebration of Learning

The celebration of learning assembly will be held tomorrow on Thursday 14th at 1.00pm. If your child is receiving an award, you will have received an invitation to come along. I am afraid we have to restrict attendance to the families of those receiving awards because of space constraints.

Graduation Assembly

Our Year 6 Graduation assembly will be held on the 19th of December at 6.00pm. Once again, this assembly is specifically for year 6 children and their families. You will receive an invitation. It is a lovely event and a great way for our children to finish their years at Torbay School.

Classes for 2024

On Monday December 18th children will be told who their new teacher for 2024 is and they will have the opportunity to visit their new classroom and teacher. Reports will also go home on this day. Your children will be able to inform you of their new teacher when they arrive home on the 18th.

We are very lucky that our staff remains very stable going into 2024:

The only changes in our teaching staff this year is that Sam Boriboun will be leaving Torbay after 9 years of service and Alyce Debenham will return from Maternity leave.

Our teaching teams for next year:

Year 0/1: Kylie Wilson (Leader T1) Anne Naude, Tori Hohaia-Gibbons, Todd Goodman, Cathie Wharemate

Year 2: Nic Davis (Leader), Lorelle Koya, Vicky Crossman, Chrysi Teorien

Year 3: Joanne Northover (Leader), JoAnne Sutton, Amanda Walenkamp, Paulette Noone

Year 4: Megan MacIntosh (Leader), Jack Coyle, Annika Jamieson, Ingrid Cooper.

Year 5: Renee Heasley (Leader), Tania Davey, Jen Dawe, Sophie Hales-Owen.

Year 6: Vanessa Mitschak (Leader), Lachlan Freeland, Alyce Debenham, Linda Urwin

Hari Kirihimete

It has been a great year and I thank you, our community for your support throughout.

I thank our Board for their support and trust in me, the Senior Management, and our staff to deliver for your children. They are a forward-thinking effective Board who both challenge and support, a rare commodity.

I thank all of our staff, they are an outstanding group of teachers, learning assistants, administrators and caretakers who work with open minds, explore new ideas and deliver on every front. They are a phenomenal team who just keep coming up with ways to improve our school, they care deeply about our children, and I wish them all a well-earned break.

I would also like to make a special thankyou to our two Deputy Principals who have formed a new team this year. Susan and Nikki are special people whose work output is only matched by their passion to see Torbay School become the best school it can possibly be. They have had an enormously busy year; they are forever positive and looking for ways to improve our systems or our practice.

Our admin team is another new team in our school, Amy Watson and Faye Stewart joined Rachel and Elizabeth at the beginning of the year and all four have worked together and formed a wonderful team of positive changemakers, who are the engine room of our school. Changes like this can be difficult but it is a tribute to each of these special people that our school did not miss a beat.

I hope that you have an enjoyable and safe Christmas break, spend some quality time with the people you love, and I look forward to seeing everybody in the new year.


Nga mihi nui

Gary O’Brien


[email protected]


KA PAI to the following students who have shared their fantastic learning with us this week: Laura, Sam, & Emily Rm 2, Peyton, Vainga & Savannah Rm 21,  Hunter G Rm 25, Oliva G Rm 27  Keep up the good work! 


CELEBRATION OF LEARNING AWARDS ASSEMBLY – THURSDAY 14TH DECEMBER Awards assembly will be held in the School Hall and more information will come home in due course. Due to capacity reasons only parents/caregivers of children receiving special awards will be invited to attend this event.

YEAR 6 GRADUATION EVENING, TUESDAY 19th DECEMBER – Year 6 Graduation will be held on Tuesday 19th December in the School Hall. Please note: Due to capacity reasons only Year 6 students and their parents are invited. If you have any queries please contact [email protected]

2024 ENROLMENTS – If your child, or someone you know has a child who lives in the Torbay School zone, and they are turning 5 next year, please urgently complete an online enrolment application available from our website.

SCHOOL POOL KEY – These are now on sale and can be purchased through your Kindo account under the miscellaneous tab. We only have a limited number of keys available for sale, therefore don’t delay purchasing to avoid disappointment.

STATIONERY LISTS 2024 – The 2024 stationery lists are now available on our website  Select your child’s year and you can view their stationery requirements.

OVERDUE LIBRARY BOOKS – We have a number of overdue library books.  If you have any school library books at home please send these in with your child as soon as possible. Thank you.