Hundreds of letters of compassion from students in the Pupuke Kāhui Ako are being sent to grieving families in Christchurch.
Initiated by Westlake's Head Prefect Hala Barakat and Board of Trustees Student Rep Sania Mohammadi Jafarian, the #WithLove project was a way of uniting the nine school communities within Pupuke Kāhui Ako, and showing support to Christchurch.
"Westlake is an incredibly diversified school," says Hala. "We wanted a student-led campaign that brought everyone together, and we wanted to extend it out to the other schools in our Community of Learning so they could be a part of it too."
A lot of the hand-written notes were created at a workshop held at lunchtime on Thursday. They, along with letters from the other schools, will be sent to an Imam (Islamic leader) at one of the two Christchurch mosques, for distribution among grieving and affected families.
"We know the letters can never make up for the trauma and shock that the Muslim community of Christchurch has faced," says Hala. "But we would like to unite the community to show our solidarity."
There’s something in the water
If Westlake’s hockey fields are looking particularly healthy this season, it’s thanks to a brand new irrigation system that is believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.
Last year management approved a budget to upgrade the existing hockey irrigation system which, after many years, was proving expensive to repair when items jammed the mechanism. “It really was time to look at changing the system,” says Westlake’s Property Manager Grant Brown. “Our hockey fields are world class and used by some of New Zealand’s top professional players, as well as our students. We need to ensure they are maintained correctly, so having an effective, reliable system is essential.”
The contract was awarded to Parkland, and managed by Irrigation Design Engineer Bruce Guthrie. “Getting the right contractor was key to the success of this project,” says Grant.
Bruce says the design has changed the sprinkler system from an in-ground “pop-up” system to sprinklers on raised posts. “The key was understanding the main reason for the change,” he says. “This understanding and a good engineering partner in Grant at North Harbour Engineering meant everything went to plan with the design and the installation of the posts. Clear design ideas and communication between all parties was important.”
The new system runs off four large tanks containing 100,000 litres of water. A massive 38% of water sprayed onto the field is recycled back through the tanks. “It’s one grunty pump system, and the sprinklers can pump out more than 800 litres per minute with a radius of throw of 45-50m.”
The German-made irrigation cannons are supported on NZ-made steel towers, in what is believed to be a unique design not seen anywhere else in this country.
“There is now better water coverage of the pitch in the same watering time as previous,” says Bruce. “The sprinklers are very easy to adjust for wind and playing conditions.”
Bruce says the six-week project involved several companies working together to design and install the system, including Alf Philips Concrete Cutting, North Harbour Engineering, Easy Flow Irrigation, Atlas Concrete and Kennards Hire. “They were all great to work with and the project was completed on time and in budget because of them,” he says.
Both Bruce and Grant and pleased with the outcome. “We are thrilled,” says Bruce. “The system performs better than the original and is easier to adjust to suit conditions.” Grant agrees. “The existing system had had its day and we needed a solution that was innovative but also reliable. What we’ve ended up with is exactly that – and it’s exciting for the school that it’s a totally unique design.”
Play can now recommence!
Outstanding student achieves in classroom and on sports field
Sixteen-year-old Kaia Tupu-South has the world at her feet.
The talented Year 12 student recently won not one, but three national titles at the New Zealand Athletics Track and Field Championships in Christchurch. Representing the Auckland athletics area, she won Gold medals in the U18 shotput, discus and U20 shotput. Kaia also won a silver medal in the U20 discus.
“I feel really happy about the Championships,” she says. “The weekend outweighed all of my expectations, and to come away with a personal best in the shotput in quite bad conditions was awesome! I’m particularly proud of my U20 shotput title because I still have more than two years to compete in that category.”
But Kaia’s talents don’t end there. In 2017 she was Westlake’s Junior Dux and in 2018 was Westlake’s top Year 11 student, with 165 Excellence credits, an Excellence Endorsement for her NCEA Level 1 Certificate and an Excellence Subject Endorsement in all six of her Level 1 subjects: English, Spanish, Economics, Food Technology, Science (Extension) and Maths (Extension).
Coming third in the North Island Brain Bee competition last year, and earning a Distinction in an Australian maths paper, Kaia’s range of abilities is extensive. But it’s in athletics that she is really making a name for herself. “I’m about to compete at the Australian Athletics Championships from 1-7 April, and I’ll hopefully qualify for the 2019 Oceania champs in June. But the New Zealand National Champs have been my highlight so far.”
Kaia’s dream is to qualify for the Olympics, but for now she has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) U20 World Champs in Nairobi, Kenya. “I hope to continue training once I leave school for university,” she says. “I’d like to do something in the chemistry/science field, which is my passion.”
No doubt whatever path she chooses, Kaia Tupu-South is a name you’re going to hear a lot of.
When actions speak louder than words
Westlake Girls High School is founded on the values of Excellence, Respect, Integrity, Compassion and Fairness. They might be great words - but students have proven recently that they are so much more than that.
When the call was made for students to volunteer for the Well Foundation, more than 200 people responded. “It was a staggering amount of applications,” says Head Prefect Hala Barakat. “I had to top up the application forms five times over the span of a week. It’s really heartening to see how many girls are willing to volunteer their time and energy to such a great charity.”
The Well Foundation is an official charity supporting the Waitemata District Health Board. It helps fund North Shore, Rodney and Waitakere hospitals in their efforts to raise funds for advanced healthcare services which cannot be afforded through core funding. The Waitemata DHB serves more than 600,000 people and is responsible for the region’s primary healthcare and other services.
Hala says the idea to support the Well Foundation initially came from neighbouring Westlake Boys High School. “The Westlake Boys leader contacted me and asked if I would be interested, on behalf of WGHS, to lead the Well foundation group. I thought it would be an incredible initiative as it allows us to give back to the community.”
From the 200 applications, Hala and Deputy Head Prefect Isabella Brown will now select 30 students who will form the core volunteer group. “It’s not going to be easy,” she says. “We are looking for compassionate students who want to make a difference in the community – approachable and committed people who are willing to put time aside to help those in need. The problem is, everyone who applied fits that category!”
Alongside organising school fundraisers to support the charity, there are two main activities the students will be involved with - surveying patients and handing out food. “We will be given iPads to survey patients in order to improve the quality of their stay,” says Hala. “Occasionally, we will help to distribute food to patients. We may be asked to help maintain site gardens or storage areas and our volunteers will be willing to help regardless of the task.”
The next step will be for the Westlake reps to meet with the Well Foundation. “This meeting will just outline what the jobs are and the mechanisms of how it will all work,” says Hala. “Following this, the rosters will be created and the volunteers will begin their shifts and organising fundraisers. The over-whelming amount of applications makes me proud and I’m confident our group is going to be able to do great things for the Well Foundation.”