Star Board - Term Four Week Four St Matthew's Collegiate School Weekly News

Principal's Message

Kia Ora Koutou

Standing outside a shop with a Christmas tree in it, and then skyward shoots a November 5th SkyRocket. I glance to my right and see the remnants of Halloween festivities and I then pause to reflect. Term 4 is a bit like that; one thing is over and another is about to start. We need to pace ourselves- one thing at a time and remember to enjoy that thing.

NCEA Exams

Our seniors have at the end of today literally five school days left before their national exams start. Students will use the study leave wisely because they are pursuing endorsements, or credits to secure their NCEA Level pass. Some may actually be at school over study leave to access resources or tutoring. Whatever the choices made, the one choice they all need to make is to use the time wisely. The National exam timeslot is such a short period of time that can make a long term difference.

Houses and name changes

I had a visit from a parent to ask me about the name changes, which I completely respect because I believe myself to be approachable. I feel change for the sake of change is a nonsense but if there is good reason I will pursue necessary change. I state again that I believe that changing the House names is sensible. However, the communications and requests from many sources over the last few years, and mostly from old girls, asking for me to change the names of the Houses has been phenomenal. As an English and History teacher I value the past and what that has afforded us, but this letter that follows from a recent old girl articulates beautifully my sentiments about why we are doing what we are doing. This letter will be familiar to those who have stayed abreast of previous discussions about the house names.

Dear Mrs Gill,

I hope this finds you well and that you’ve coped with the Covid crisis okay! What a crazy year it’s been thus far…

I am writing with regards to the recent Black Lives Matter movement, and its broader effects on re-evaluations of racial consciousness and imperial histories in New Zealand. As you may know, the issue of the names of the St Matthew’s houses has recently been debated – with great vigour! – on the SMOGA Facebook page. The fundamental proposition …was that perhaps it is time to revise the names of the houses. She attached paintings of three of the four men after whom the houses are named; Sir Bernard Fergusson, Sir George Grey, and Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Upon seeing the pictures of the three men, it became fairly obvious that they bear minimal relevance to modern St Matthew’s.

Of course, it is easy to see this debate as getting swept up in the broader trend of what some call an “attack on history.” In many instances, these claims have merit – it is indeed a grey area between denying history just because it is difficult to stomach and respecting the traditions of the past. The dangers of presentism and judging the past by current standards were, after all, always stressed in our history lessons!

The presentist debate, however, does not apply to St Matthew’s, and its tradition of the four houses. At St Matthew’s, the house spirit runs deep, and strong – any girl will tell you that. The difference is, that this tradition is not based upon the names of the houses; Grey, Cobham, Fergusson and Wakefield serve as indistinct figureheads, and many girls will spend a whole 7 years at the school with little clue of the origins of the houses they so keenly represent.

It is clear, herein, that the names of the houses have lost their meaning with the passage of time, underlining the fact that they bear little relevance to St Matthew’s today, and that their principle function remains as empty figureheads of tradition.

To be sure, the influence of tradition cannot be overstated; at St Matthew’s, it is clearly an important basis for much of our culture, and rightly so. One of the primary criticisms against the case for changing the house names appears to be the fact that for some families, generations of girls have served one house. Of course, this is an understandable and valid perspective – though one which could be partially solved by keeping the colours of the houses constant. It is clear, however, that the house names have become an example of tradition for the sake of tradition. The fact that the figures that the houses represent are little-known only serves to underline this point. It is part of an institution’s responsibility to engage in critical self-reflection, and to recognise the point at which tradition is no longer productive – this is that point.

It feels at odds with the St Matthew’s culture to have a dubious group of colonial figures at the centre of the school spirit – but almost particularly because they themselves are not part of the school spirit.

From my perspective, then, this debate has produced an opportunity; the possibility of renaming the houses after a group of diverse, inspirational women that girls can genuinely look up to. I don’t feel in a position to suggest a water-tight group of people to rename the houses after – perhaps it could be a chance to consult the students, I know this worked well at Hadlow a few years ago – but I do believe that renaming the houses to genuine role models would, in turn, strengthen the house spirit even further.

So to you our parents, we have consulted your daughters, we have consulted SMOGA, I consult you now as we hold over the voting process – who are the strong women you want your daughters to aspire to? I did set a criteria of strong New Zealand women who have now passed (so they cannot blot their copy books while still with us), but I invite you to provide names.


The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 commences on 11 November 2020, amending the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 and renaming it to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990. Changes will be phased in over a period of 15 months.

From 11 November 2020, the existing prohibition on smoking at schools is extended to include vaping. Schools must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no person vapes in any part of the school, whether inside or outside, at any time of day.

St Matthew’s is ahead of the pack here because we already have in place ‘No Vaping’ signage which must be displayed by 11 May 2021.

This week

Howzat- yesterday our 1st XI qualified for the National Cricket Finals. They join our Primary XI who are also in the National Finals.

Have a safe weekend

Ngā Mihi


First XI Cricket

Left: the team celebrate coach Gene Bartlett's Birthday with a cricket pitch cake. Right: the girls come off the field after posting 119 runs off 20 overs against Palmerston North Girls' High. Leading them in is Lizzie Cohr and Lily Hunt.
The girls had a great day beating Taradale High School in the morning only having to chase 88 runs. A few of us on the sideline might have been a bit concerned after a tumble of wickets, however the girls managed to make it home comfortably. In the afternoon the girls posted a handsome score (119), with strong batting performances from Lizzie Cohr and Olivia Clark. Then the rain threated with both teams needing to complete their 20 overs each, otherwise we would need to come back for another game. The drizzle started but not enough to call off the game, despite some slowing tactics by the opposition with a view to the weather getting worse, and the game replayed. The girls held their nerve and bowled their overs quickly to complete the game, and most importantly qualifying for the Gillette Venus Cup in mid December. This is where the other five teams who have won their regional tournament will play-off with us for National honours. Exciting times and following in the footsteps of last year's efforts. Thanks to Honor Clark (Manager) and coaches Tony Lyford and Gene Bartlett for guiding the girls to victory!

Wai Maths

This week our Years 7-10 girls competed in Wai Maths, our regional mathematics competition run by our very own Mrs Penny Walker. Well done to all the girls who participated and especially Jenna Portman (Year 10) who won the solo event.

Outward Bound

Congratulations to Olivia Clark (Year 12) and Annabelle Smith for completed their Outward Bound courses. Pictured with them are the entire watch crew and their sponsors.

Lip Sync Competition

On Thursday afternoon we held the SMS inaugural 'Lip Sync' Competition. Well done to all the girls and staff who came up with an act for this event. The eventual winners were the Spice Girls, consisting of Charlotte Hewitt, Bella Robson, Hannah Penn and Kate Lewis. The school enjoyed the costumes and the laughter!

Ballroom Dancing

There were high levels of concentration on Thursday night at the first combined boys and girls ballroom dancing practice session. We can confirm no toes were trodden on! We have another combined session before the Ballroom Social in Week 7. Pictured above is the Year 9 session.

Senior College News

This time next week, the Senior College Prizegiving will have taken place and the students will be on study leave, with exams starting the following Monday, 16 November. We hope that lessons have been learned from their Derived Grade experiences and that all will perform to the best of their ability. Many students have chosen to sit their exams digitally this year. The following message has been received from NZQA and I would urge all students taking digital exams to take it seriously:

Make sure that you have created your NZQA Student Login account and know your email/username and password before going into your exam.

Check that your Student Login still works by clicking on the ‘Login Option’ button at the very top right-hand site of NZQA’s website home page; then select ‘Students & Learners Login’ and enter your email/username/password. If this doesn’t work, click on Forgot password or Help.

If you still have problems, please call us on 0800 697 296 and say that you need help logging into your Student Login Account.

I will have more to say about this in the briefing given to all students taking NCEA and Scholarship exams next week.

We are looking forward to the Dinner Dance being held next Tuesday evening. It is the culmination of a lot of work by prefects and other senior students, so congratulations and thanks in advance for what will be an excellent evening.

Congratulations to Hannah Maunsell, who has been awarded a University of Canterbury Product design Scholarship for next year.

Olivia Clarke and Tiaki Freeman both recently completed an Outward Bound course. This week, I had the pleasure of attending a reception at the Copthorne given by Outward Bound where Tiaki spoke about his experiences.

Adam Gordon

Deputy Principal/Head of Senior College

Coming Up on the Calendar

Week Five Term Four

Monday 9 November - Whanau Time, Librarians Morning Tea, Junior Choir, Viva Rehearsal, Cultural Group Filming

Tuesday 10 November - Senior Chapel, Year Level Meetings, Senior College Dinner Dance

Wednesday 11 November - Assembly, Masterton Primary Athletics, Year 9 Trip to Rathkeale, Orchestra, Viva Rehearsal, Year 11 Effort Grade Reports Published to the Portal

Thursday 12 November - Junior Chapel, Last day for Years 11-13, Senior College Prize Giving 7pm SMS Hall

Friday 13 November - Study Leave Begins, Year 10 Career Taster Day (UCOL), Whanau Time, Volunteer Function (Mrs Gill's residence 5.30pm)

Week 6 Term Four

Monday 16 November - NCEA Exams begin, Whanau Time, Author Visit, Junior Choir, Viva Rehearsal

Tuesday 17 November - Teacher Only Day

Wednesday 18 November - Junior Assembly, Young Leaders Day (Year 7/8), Viva Rehearsal

Thursday 19 November - Junior Chapel, Primary Cricket Nationals, Jazz Band, Year 10 Lunchtime Concert, Board of Trustees Meeting, Combined Ballroom Dancing

Friday 20 November - Primary Cricket Nationals, Physics and Engineering Day (Victoria University), Whanau Time

Sunday 22 November - Main House 100 Years

School Notices

Foodbank Appeal

On the 11th November there is the annaul street collection of grocery items for the Foodbank. Several of St Matthew’s students have volunteered to assist with sorting the food at the Firestation between 6.30 and 8 pm.

In a year that has been incredibly difficult for those who live in poverty I am very aware we have families who live just around the corner from us, who are experiencing these problems, and we, as a school community can choose to be part of the solution. I am hoping that every family associated with St Matthew’s Collegiate School will bring a generous quantity of grocery items to school that we can take to the Foodbank in Masterton. These items could be basic food items, along with some luxury items too perhaps. They could also be the items we take for granted like sanitary products, tooth brushes and tooth paste or shampoo and conditioner.

There is a trolley in the foyer at school for students to drop the donations into or they can bring them directly to my office or give them to their whanau teacher or bring them to chapel.

I know this is an expensive time of year for families, but God challenges us to be generous to those who are not as well off as we are, and in the Matthew’s Gospel promises us, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!’ (Matthew 25:40).


Lesley Mouat


Teacher Only Day

There is a Teacher Only Day on Tuesday 17 November. This is to advise us regarding the changes to NCEA. School will be closed.

Dates for the End of the Year

Below are end of year dates:

Thursday November 12 - Senior College Prizegiving 7pm

Monday November 16 - NCEA National Exams begin

Friday December 4 - Non-NCEA students released from instruction Carol Service and Leavers' Service - 6pm St Matthew's Parish Church

Saturday December 5 - St Matthew’s Prizegiving -ALL students required - 12pm Wairarapa College (Please note change of time from 9am)

Wednesday December 9 - NCEA National Exams end; School and Boarding House(s) Officially closed

Monday December 14 - Year 13 Leavers' Ball

Eco Tip - Lily Burgin-Penlington

Being Climate Positive isn't always about drastically changing what you do. Instead, make the most of what you have at the present moment. If you are a big coffee drinker, you can easily reduce your waste by simply not throwing away your used coffee grounds! Used coffee grounds make a great fertilizer for your indoor and outdoor plants, as well as being a key ingredient in many natural face and body scrubs. The idea of being eco-friendly or zero-waste can have a lot of pressures attached but just being mindful of what you have is an easy step towards a better future for our planet.

School Community

Year 9 - Connecting Years

Friends of SMS

The Friends Raffle draw winners for Term 4, 2020, being a credit of $600 each, as follows:

Madeleine Wellbrock

Sophia Richardson


SMOGA (St Matthew's Old Girls' Association) - Wine Fundraiser

Once again the SMOGA are offering a wine fundraiser in association with Paddy Borthwick Wines. For every case, $40 will be donated by Paddy Borthwick to the school. You must be 18 years or over to participate.

Please click on the link below to view the extensive range of wines offered, and complete an order form. Please send to Bridget Mathewson at bridg.andy@gmail.com

Rathkeale College Christmas Fete

Other Community Events