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Alumni & Friends

Western Springs College | Seddon High School | SMTC
Issue 7 | 2016

Our mission is to re-connect with all students, teachers and friends of Western Springs College, Seddon High and SMTC. 

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Western Springs College, Nga Puna o Waiorea, would like to let its community and alumni know that Principal, Ken Havill has decided to retire, effective from the end of Term Four 2016.

Mr Havill, began with the college in 1990 and has been Principal since 1998. He said he had timed his departure to ensure the budget for a new school was secured and build plans were well underway.“I wanted to leave this job with the school in a really strong position and I think we’re there now,” Mr Havill said. He also leaves with the school having secured the positive endorsement of the Education Review Office, ranking Auckland’s top state secondary school for level three NCEA and university entrance for several years running.


Board Chair, John Loof said Ken Havill would leave a considerable legacy.
“Over his 19 year tenure as Principal, Ken has established Western Springs’ reputation as a successful, progressive, liberal school. During that time the roll has more than doubled, while WSC has transformed from a niche college to a modern, high performing, learning environment which attracts skilled staff and able students.”

An event to celebrate Ken’s considerable success at Western Springs College is planned for Friday, 14th October.

Alumna Alix Whitaker is a  prolific producer

Alix lives and works in what used to be and old-folks-home, and is now a young-folks-home, next to Cornwall Park in Auckland, along with 20 film-makers (mostly writers, directors, and producers). They call it the Candlelit Commune or the Candlelit Club House.  She's also the director/CEO of Candlelit Pictures; the creative home of a growing group of lofty idealists who love telling stories with moving images.

Ira Glass (This American Life) says the only way to close the gap between your ambition and your ability, is to do a large volume of work. Alix believes him, so over the last 6 years she's produced just shy of 60 short films and music videos through Candlelit Pictures, many of which have played at film festivals in the USA, Canada, & New Zealand, won various awards, and received notable critical acclaim online.

Alix recently completed an internship funded by the NZ Film Commission; tailing the producers of Taika Waititi's new feature Hunt For The Wilderpeople through pre-production, production, and wrap - this was obviously the coolest learning opportunity she's had since she started working in film.

In early 2015, Alix received an entrepreneurial award from Arts Regional Trust called the ‘Art Venture Award’. 

This award provided her with unlimited access to the best mentors ART can find in NZ, and internationally, to support her to focus on the vision and strategic direction of Candlelit Pictures, beyond the project-specific work.With ART’s help, Alix is working on creating a sustainable infrastructure for Candlelit Pictures, and developing a visual identity for the company; a new website, and an ident that will be placed on the front their films.


Candlelit Pictures is currently developing a slate of feature films and web series' projects, which they can't wait to bring to audiences in NZ and overseas.

Alix attended Western Springs College: 2003-2007

School life: Western Springs was a lot of fun. I loved that the teachers always treated us with respect -coming from an intermediate school where the teachers treated us like children; Western Springs was a breath of fresh air. My favorite subjects were music and photography (I hope they still have the dark-room for celluloid photography!), and I met my best friend just outside the library; we're still best friends, and work closely together these days making films and documentaries.

Greatest achievement: Figuring out that life isn't about money at all - in-fact it's about being happy and emotionally healthy, having a positive influence on everyone around you, and contributing something to the world that you believe is worthwhile.

Greatest influence: Socrates (via Plato)

Source of inspiration: The NZ film-makers who have had the tenacity to stick-at-it and keep making the things they believed in despite the innumerable challenges that one faces in this industry when living at the bottom of the world; Jane Campion, Taika Waititi, Merata Mita, Peter Jackson, and many more.

Working style: I like to work very hard, when I'm making a film I'm 150% committed to doing everything I can to make it the best it can be - this means that it's very important for me to balance myself with a bit of exercise, alone time, and fun time so that I don't burn out. You can work incredibly hard most of the time and achieve a hell-of-a-lot if you're smart about it and listen to the cues that you need to take some time out when they happen.

Special to me: Bethells Beach. That place literally blows my mind. It's humbling to behold and explore the majesty of that entire area. I like to think about what it would have been like to stumble upon this place in the 1800's…

Likes: I love these two videos on creativity;
Ira Glass -
John Cleese -

The New Face of Western Springs College

We were very pleased and proud to unveil a new logo and motto for Western Springs College at the beginning of this year.

The tuna or eels of our new logo have special significance to Western Springs College.  The obvious connection is of course that we are neighbours to Western Springs Lake, the home of the Tuna Whiri [long whiskered eel], however the eels themselves have habits that are very relevant to our strong teacher and student relationship here at WSC.

The central eel in our logo represents the student/s, and the outer eels represent those that guide the students through their education journey, this could be the teachers, mentors, counsellors and coaches at WSC.  This behaviour or relationship is exactly how the tuna whiri behave, they have a  lead or central eel that has guides and feeders to assist them.

The movement of eels also represents the forward journey through education, including all the ups and downs that are negotiated along the way.

Our new motto - Whaia Te Matauranga - Aim for excellence (in learning)

This fits WSC very well - the school is described by ERO as having "a culture of high expectations for academic achievement"; and as "leading the country in excellence endorsements for NCEA. This is mainly attributable to the high order thinking skills that are a planned part of many learning programmes throughout the eight learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)."

The new logo and motto also tie very closely with both the logo and whakatauki that have been the central to Nga Puna o Waiorea since its inception.  Nga Puna o Waiorea's refreshed logo is seen below.

Work begins on $75m Western Springs College–Ngā Puna o Waiōrea rebuild

Western Springs College–Ngā Puna o Waiōrea today celebrated the start of the school’s $75million rebuild. Over the next two years, 80% of the school will be demolished and a state-of-the-art facility built in its place. The new school will be completed at the end of 2018, with students moving in at the beginning of the 2019 year.

The ‘Whakapūmau Whenua’ (blessing of the earth) marking the start of the project took place on Friday 16 September, attended by Education Minister Hekia Parata, Mana Whenua–Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei and 150 invited guests.

The powhiri was followed by a Karakia and a historical kōrero by Ivan Davis (Acting School Principal) and Chris Selwyn (Tumuaki).

WSC Board Chair John Loof says the first stage of the project – setting up a temporary school to house students during the rebuild – will start during the upcoming school holidays, and construction of the new school will begin in the third quarter of 2017.

He says the size and scope of the project provides an unprecedented opportunity for students, staff and the community.  “This is a new chapter in the history of Western Springs College–Ngā Puna o Waiōrea; the building of a fantastic learning environment for our children and our teachers."


 The new buildings, which will be completed and ready for the start of 2019, will provide facilities we have only been able to dream about until now. I’m a big believer in the importance of the local school as the school of choice for local parents and there is no doubt the redevelopment project will make our school an outstanding asset for the local community.

“The new state-of- the-art facilities will enhance already outstanding learning outcomes in both mainstream and Waiorea,” John says. 

Metro magazine’s recent “Best schools in Auckland” feature highlighted academic achievement at the school, including from its strong, successful kura kaupapa unit. The mainstream school that recorded the best UE [university entrance] results for girls in Year 13 was not a Catholic school or any kind of single-sex school, but Western Springs College. 

The mainstream school that achieved the same feat for boys was also Western Springs. They are doing something right out there by the zoo."

Parents and students will start seeing relocatable classrooms coming onto the site over the next two weeks, John says, but only two buildings – one tech block and the canteen – will need to be demolished in the early stage of the project. The present library will turn into the food tech room and the canteen.

“It’s been a long journey but we are really excited about the start of work on site. We are right on schedule,” John says.

There is more information about the temporary school and the early stages of the school rebuild below. But if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ivan Davis -, 815 6730

Twins Achieve Academic Excellence Via Different Routes

In the Senior Prize Giving at the end of 2015 history was made at Western Springs College, when for the first time in many years Dux, the college’s most prestigious academic distinction, was awarded jointly.  It was also the first time in the college’s history that the award had been shared by twins.  Despite taking different academic routes through school, when it came to deciding on the Dux winner the exam results data and teacher feedback on Alex and Matt Woodall provided the Senior Leadership Team with no means of separating out a single winner.  Alex and Matt had done equally well within the subjects they shared and Alex’s pursuit of excellence in Physics and Physical Education was absolutely matched by Matt’s determination in Biology and Painting.

Between them the boys took a wide range of subjects across academic domains, with the humanities, science, the visual arts, and other disciplines all being represented.  WSC is proud of the fact that it meets the needs of diverse learners striving for excellence across the full range of disciplines, including subjects such as Dance, Environmental Sustainability, Philosophy and Te Reo Rangatira which only a limited number of Auckland schools offer through to Year 13.

Thinking back on his time at WSC Alex reflected that “it was a place that gave me an opportunity to learn in a place that combined serious approaches to learning in a relaxed manner”.  Matt amplified the same point, “Western Springs was unique in many ways. The student­ teacher relationship was one based on respect, which I found to be incredibly important to my learning because the teachers genuinely wanted to be there. The relaxed, liberal environment grew a culture of questioning, it made me want to learn new things because it was interesting, rather than because I had to.”

The college is also particularly proud of the fact that it lives up to its charter principles and prioritises the education of the whole child.  Both Alex and Matt were able to pursue academic excellence whilst also pursuing their own extracurricular interests, Alex in sport and Matt in Music.  Similarly, both were exemplary Year 13 Leaders, Alex working with overseas students in his International Student Leader position and Matt reinvigorating the Academic Leader role.   Matt also found time to jointly win the ‘WSC Proud’ art competition - his winning entry is shown above.  Alex is now studying Engineering at Auckland University and Matt has gone on to Otago to study Health Science.

Young Enterprise meets sustainability

2016 has been the first year for Young Enterprise at Western Springs College. Sparked from the interest of Y12 student Zach Monk, our first Young Enterprise Company, Wrap It Up, was established this year.

The Young Enterprise Scheme, run in schools all around NZ, is described as ‘an experiential programme where students set up and run a real business.' Each YES company creates their own product or service and brings this to the market.’

Six senior students with a passion for sustainability have taken this challenge on board and formed a highly successful first company. Wrap It Up produces & sells beeswraps - a sustainable alternative to gladwrap. These are made by infusing beeswax and jojoba oil, (which have antibacterial properties) into cotton, and can be used to cover food from sandwiches and snacks to fruit, blocks of cheese, and leftovers in the fridge. After a long process of finding suppliers, developing a production process, completing financial analysis and creating a marketing strategy, August 19th was the much awaited launch date. Their beeswraps are now available for purchase at the front office, with an online store launching in September 2016. We look forward to more Young Enterprise Companies operating at Western Springs in the future!

If you are interested in finding out more about Wrap It Up, head over to their website or Facebook page.

Western Springs College

100 Motions Rd, Western Springs,
Auckland 1022, New Zealand
Phone (+64 09) 815 6730 | Fax (+64 09) 815 6740

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