It’s no secret that Ōtautahi has been hit hard over the last ten years, experiencing a series of disasters and traumatic events that South New Brighton School Counsellor, Krystyn Marr, says have affected their tamariki hugely.

“Our community has been impacted heavily after the earthquakes, March
15th and a fire in 2020 that resulted in several classrooms burning to the ground. We had to respond to the changing needs of our tamariki and community, and decided that hauora was going to be our school focus.”

“For us, it’s all about relationships. How can we connect whether that is peer to peer, adult to tamariki or school to whānau and community.”

South New Brighton School decided to invest in an on-site school counsellor, to offer an extra layer of pastoral support for tamariki and whānau.

Krystyn thinks it’s awesome she’s able to utilise her skills and knowledge to assist and support the school and the wider community.

“It’s been a real investment for our school and it’s made a huge impact.”

“We are taking small steps but we are definitely seeing a change with how people view mental health. It is okay to say you aren’t okay and that you need more support.”

A Special Hauora Space

South New Brighton School have turned a vacant classroom into a hauora space.

“This is where tamariki can go at break times if they are needing to self-regulate, calm down, connect with the counsellor or simply a quiet place to chill.  We have couches, cushions, books, bean bags, chess, colouring-in and drawing set up in this space.”

“We also have kai available for tamariki in this space. Our amazing PTA fund fruit, bread, jam, marmite, weet-bix, cheese and milo for the tamariki to access.”

“Having that food available for some children means that they are better able to learn as they have some kai for the day.”

Small Steps to Wellbeing

After the Christchurch earthquakes, South New Brighton School followed recommendations from the Kathleen Liberty study on School-wide strategies for reducing stress and promoting healthy learning environments.

“We changed the whole school timetable to play, eat, learn. We’ve taught emotional coaching and philosophy about listening to others’ viewpoints and encouraging discussions.”

“For us, it’s an ongoing journey. We are close to where we want to be but we are taking slow little steps to get there.”

The use of Sparklers and Te Whare Tapa Whā has been awesome for hauora teaching at South New Brighton School.

“Te Whare Tapa Whā has helped us communicate to tamariki that if your wellbeing isn’t looked after, everything will start to topple over.”

“We’ve been able to hone in on a lot of Sparklers activities that relate to our values, the 5 C’s – caring, connected, courageous, creative and curious. It’s helped us deepen our connection to our tikanga, which is super important to us.”

For those looking for a place to start with their whole-school approach to wellbeing, Krystyn says just start small and take it slow.

“Change takes time. Tiny steps in the right direction will get you there. It’s important to look at the needs of your school community and tamariki. Be mindful, pay attention and invest in the resources.”