Our Curriculum

Like all schools in New Zealand we have the privilege of developing a local curriculum with the New Zealand Curriculum as our guiding document. This world-class document enables local communities to develop a localised curriculum in response to the principles, values and vision of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Waitākiri students will have the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and understandings in mathematics, english (literacy), the arts, science, social sciences, technology, health and physical education as well as developing their key competencies.

​In the early years, children learn the skills of reading, writing, and maths so that they can explore into their world and engage in authentic learning contexts as they get older. Our curriculum is designed to encourage children to want to read and write and develop numeracy skills because of the learning activities and opportunities that they are involved in.

The Waitākiri Curriculum is a “Place based Curriculum”. That is one where our children know first about their place, their community and their place in the community so that they can learn about their world. Our 2019 integrated-learning concept, Responsibility/Ngā Kawenga is inextricably linked and interconnected with each of the big ideas from the previous three years: Relationships / Whanaungatanga; Sustainability/Kaitiakitanga; Diversity and Culture/Kanorau.

Our curriculum is developed with an Enviroschools foundation. We are very proud to have received a Bronze accreditation in 2016, a Silver in 2017 and the highest Green Gold in 2019. We work with our community as an enviro school and as a school of kaitiaki and weave environmental practices throughout everything we do.

Please see below our Curriculum Subjects and more . . .

The teaching of Mathematics at Waitākiri School is based on the Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (DMIC) approach, founded by Dr Bobbie Hunter. This approach promotes a group-based approach to problem solving.

Students are introduced to word problems, which contain relevant cultural aspects and real life situations, then encouraged to share their different ways of solving them with each other. The teacher reinforces the ‘big idea’ that is being taught, along with any specific mathematical concepts that are being targeted. These are taken from the New Zealand Curriculum key areas (strands) of Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics. 

DMIC Maths link

We believe the following are key features of a strong and balanced maths programme:

Making thinking visible: Students use diagrams, number lines, graphs, materials and models which helps solve problems, show their thinking, deepen their understanding and build on the thinking of others.

Building procedural fluency:  Students apply procedures accurately, efficiently and flexibly and across a range of problems and contexts. 

Engaging in discourse:  Students exchanging  ideas about maths through group and class discussions and also through written communication.

Questioning and feedback:  Supporting students to think more deeply, e.g by encouraging them to explain an approach or to make connections with a big idea.

Big ideas across all strands:  Focusing on the big ideas in maths helps students to understand that maths skills and concepts are interconnected and useful for making sense of the world around them.

Rich tasks: These give students opportunities to discuss and justify their thinking and to compare how others have approached the task. It also helps them learn that struggling and not-knowing in the ‘learning pit’ are normal in maths problem solving.

Varied Learning experiences: Students at Waitākiri have opportunities to learn individually, in pairs and in collaborative groups and participate in regular, culturally responsive discussions that reflect and build on their prior knowledge. 

“O le tele o sulu e maua ai figota”. 

         Through collaboration the most difficult challenges can be overcome.

Basic Facts

Fluency with Basic Facts allows for ease of computation, especially mental computations, and, therefore aids in the ability to reason numerically in every number related area. 

Through weekly basic facts teaching we help children:

  • develop an understanding of the operations and of number relationships. 
  • develop efficient strategies for fact retrieval through practise. 
  • provide drill in the use and selection of these strategies once they have been developed.

All children from Year 2-6 complete basic facts sheets. The learning progression starts with ten facts, then 20 facts moving onto 100 facts. At this last stage, children select 15-20 unknown or less fluent recall of certain facts for home learning for the week. 

As children move through the levels, teachers explicitly teach new concepts at their new level.  


Mathletics is an online programme which provides our learners with the chance to put their maths skills to use through activities and challenges that are relevant and attention-grabbing. Teachers set levels for their maths classes dependant on each child’s ability. 

Mathletics also provides in-depth reporting that helps us see the progress of classes and individual students. All children in Years 1-6 have a username and password for Mathletics which they can also access at home.

Content to come

At Waitākiri School we know the value of children learning letter names and sounds and how they combine in words. We teach this in a structured way.

What words does my child need to learn to spell?

There are approximately 450 000 words in the English language. If you were to learn to spell 5 words a day, it would take 246 years to learn them all. It is of little use to learn to spell words that you are unlikely to use regularly and therefore have little use for in your writing. A child who is interested in music needs to know how to spell musical terms and names of their favourite instruments or composers and a rugby enthusiast needs to master words like ‘forward, penalty, Crusaders and scrum’ that they are likely to use in their writing.

Words related to the topic the children are learning about in class also need to be learnt. This means that if the child is learning to write a piece of persuasive writing, they will need to be able to spell words like: ‘persuade, disagree and conclusion’ and if the topic is Sustainability, then it is important to know how to spell words such as ‘environment, change and impact’ correctly.

Good spellers have the ability to spell common words, use knowledge of letters and chunks to assist in spelling new words, know how words are structured and make links to other words, use visual memory to decide if the word looks right and use resources to check words. Research tells us that the measure of a successful speller can be seen in how they approach writing unknown words, rather than how many words they rote learn for the spelling.

Spelling Expectations

At Waitākiri School we have based our Fast Word cards on Essential Spelling Lists 1- 4 from the New Zealand Council of Educational Research (NZCER) because their lists are based on the words children use most often in their writing. As Fast Word cards are mastered children move on to learning Essential Spelling Lists 5-7 and then Commonly Misspelt Words.

By the end of Year 1 – Children will be working on Fast Word cards 1 – 5 and can spell from memory their own name and some friend’s names.

By the end of Year 2 – Children will be working on Fast Word cards 1 – 7.

By the end of Year 3 – Children will have mastered many of the words on Fast Word cards 1 – 7, numbers to twenty in words and days of the week.

By the end of Year 4 – Children will have mastered Fast Word cards 1 – 7, months of the year and many words from Essential Lists 5 – 7.

By the end of Year 6 – Children will have mastered Essential Lists 5 – 7 and most Commonly Misspelt Words

Fast & Essential Word Lists

Integrated problem-based learning provides an important means for helping students develop the concepts, skills and dispositions necessary for life-long learning. Such connection gives learners a coherent approach and experience to learning that builds progressively on their understanding and skills, and makes links between knowledge acquired across the learning areas. This allows teaching for conceptual understanding where children can connect ideas in a transferrable way, in different contexts and for different purposes – to see common threads within the concepts, and how ideas are related.

Concepts link with the school’s tikanga, ‘REAL’, focusing on Respect, Encouragement, Achievement and Life-long Learners and are integrated across the learning areas and strands/dimensions of NZC, and the EnviroSchools’ Guiding Principles.

A conceptual inquiry approach provides authentic opportunities to explore the living world and investigations in science, any of the conceptual strands, the social sciences, as well as technological practice in the technology learning area and the socio-ecological perspective in health.

The school’s focus for learning is mathematics, literacy, and inquiry through science and the other learning areas. Our place-based curriculum enables the science inquiry focus for children in Year 1 & 2 through the context of whenua (land), through wai (water) in years 3 & 4 and through rangi, (the air, sky, solar system and beyond) in years 5 & 6. These contexts allow teachers to focus teaching and ensure quality learning experiences and opportunity for children.

The Waitākiri Curriculum encourages children to explore their questions within the defined concept, develop new knowledge and understandings through this process and wherever possible take some action. This process is the common theme within the three approaches above (inquiry, action learning, problem based learning).

​Health is taught within the classroom programme whereas Physical Education (PE) is taught by a specialist teacher. The evidence suggests to us that this system ensures that children are exposed to a wider range of learning opportunities in physical education as well as connecting with the teacher who organises sport and extension opportunities in PE.


Learning an Instrument at Waitākiri School
We are thrilled to be able to offer music lessons at Waitākiri School. Students can learn a wide range of instruments and vocals(singing) through Shirley District Music School (SDMS) and through private tutors at school. Many lessons are available onsite at Waitākiri School, if the tutor is able to travel to the school. Please click HERE for the latest information.

Visual Arts, Music, Dance & Drama (Content to come)

At Waitākiri our school is proud to hold a Te Ao Māori view. The use of Te Reo Māori is passed on in our learning studios by all kaiako and students are engaged in weekly Te Reo Māori lessons. 

At our Kura we have a strong Kapa Haka. This is lead by Matua Rihari Walker. The use of waiata, poi and haka form a strong bond between tauira (students). Our school Haka displays our pride, strength and unity as a school. It provides a platform for students to challenge themselves, to connect with others in a display of confidence and kotahitanga.

At Waitākiri we are proud to be teaching our students to become digital citizens. We do this through teaching our students how to use the technology around them. We are an Apple school which means our students become efficient at using Apple products especially iPads.

Our Year 5 & 6 studios have a 1:1 ipad ratio, meaning each student is provided their own  ipad for learning at school if they do not opt to Bring Their Own Device.

Waitākiri is lucky to engage the services of a specialist teacher who coaches the teachers and students how to integrate apps and add digital thinking to their learning. 

Students have a range of groups that they can join that are focused on digital technology such as News Crew, Movie Crew, Tech Cadets and Minecraft Education. Our teachers use a range of creative iPad apps to enhance learning outcomes. Some of our teachers are becoming Apple teachers.

Waitākiri BYOD Application & App List 2024

Parent Guide to idevice settings

Windsor Studio Cybersafety Expectations

Burwood Studio Cybersafety Expectations

Travis Studio Cybersafety Expectations

Ōtākaro Studio Cybersafety Expectations

Ruru Studio Cybersafety Expectations

Korimako Studio Cybersafety Expectations

Definition: The Ōtākaro Kāhui Ako’s definition of ‘gifted and talented’ relates to those ākonga who demonstrate a higher level of achievement OR extraordinary potential (indicators) in one or more domains – such as intellectual, creative, cultural, social, or physical. 

Giftedness can co-exist with other neurodiversities such as ASD, ADHD and SLD

Waitākiri recognises the broad range of gifts and talents that are unique to our students. 

At Waitākiri we acknowledge our high achievers, and those who show potential in one or more of these domains: intellectual, creative, cultural, social, perceptual, and physical.

Identified gifted children are well supported at Waitākiri through a range of programmes and initiatives e.g. Children’s University, French, Chess Club, Otago Problem Solving, Cantamaths, Manu Korero, Mihi Whakatau leaders, Kiwi Kids Competitions, Art extension, many music opportunities, representative sport,  etc.

Many of the activities have been initiated by the children and some are passions of the teachers. Our approach to learning allows children to be stretched and to develop their talents. Our studios allow staff to connect high achieving and gifted students who have similar interests and strengths to enable them to reach their full potential. 

If you have a talent or a skill that you think children may enjoy learning, please get in touch with the office, you will be welcomed with open arms.


Kia orana, Noa’ia, Tālofa lava, Mauri, Mālō e lelei, Tālofa, Ni sa bula vinaka, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Mālō ni and warm Pacific greetings.

At Waitākiri Primary School we strive to provide an educational environment for young learners of Pasifika heritage, which is integrated into the core values of our school.

We have three goals with regard to Pasifika learners at Waitākiri.

  1. Increase the academic achievement of Pasifika Learners by supporting both staff, in their teaching practice, and students, in their learning.
  2. Advance meaningful connections between the school and Pasifika families and communities.
  3. Empower Pasifika learners to aspire and integrate their language and culture into the classroom environment.

We are very fortunate at Waitākiri to have the dance school Tama Mai Saute. This program runs for the year to ensure the students gain the best results from the framework. Focusing on the following; install a sense of belonging, build resilience, and enhance Pasifika well-being and success. As well as integrating themes of identity, Pasifika values and origins as a Va’a (canoe) to navigate different components and key factors of Language, Song & Dance, and Culture.

At  Waitākiri we have a wide range of ‘other opportunities’ in which our  tamariki can participate: E-Pro 8 technology challenge, Student Council, World Vision 40 Hour Famine, digital technology clubs, tinkering with tools, crochet club, aerobics, Otago Problem Solving, Cantamaths, jump jam, Enviro Ferns, Multicultural group, movie crew, news crew, choir, recorder group, rock band and a  wide range of in school and after school sports.

Other Opportunities

We have many activities and clubs children can join and attend. Some run over a year, term or season and others they can attend on the days they run.  Many are run at lunchtime before the children eat lunch.

Hagley Sport – Netball, Soccer, Hockey, Rippa Rugby
Future Ferns Netball
School, Zone and Canterbury Cross Country
School, Zone and Canterbury Swimming
School, Zone and Canterbury Athletics
Jump Jam
Touch Rugby
Minijammers & Jammers Basketball
Chess Club

Kapa Haka
Rock Band
Tinkering with Tools
Crochet Club
Enviro/Garden Club
Student Council
Children’s University
Road Patrol
Art Extension
Tech Group
Movie Crew
News Crew

Student Progress and Achievement

The school reports to parents regularly on the progress of their child. Reporting methods include:

Meet the teacher

At the start of the year, studios are open for parents to meet teachers and learning assistants.

New entrant meeting

Four to six weeks after students start school, teachers will contact parents/caregivers and organise a time to meet and discuss the student’s start at school.

3-way learning conferences

These are held twice a year and provide an opportunity for students to share their learning with their parents/caregivers and to discuss progress and next steps.

Written reports

Each student receives two electronic reports each year, via our Hero student management system. All students receive their reports mid-year and end of year.

Learning posts

Learning posts are shared through our student management system for parents to view throughout the year.

Informal parent meetings

Parents are welcome to arrange a time with the class teacher to discuss their child’s progress at school at other times during the year.