This year Cashmere High School music is embarking on our most ambitious Music Tour. Every two years the Cashmere High School Music Department embarks on a music tour, with every four years touring to an international destination. This year we are touring from September 22nd to October 12th spending one week in Boston and the rest of our time in New York. 50 students and 5 staff will be taking part in the tour.

While this is an amazing opportunity there is a significant financial cost which is out of the financial reach of some families. Cashmere wants to support our students to make the most of this once in a lifetime experience. We are looking for funds to support specific students who are struggling to raise all the funds.

In addition to performing public concerts and exchanging with other schools, the tour is also a chance for the students to learn from musical experts in the US with workshops with Jazz at Lincoln centre and the New York Philharmonic and visits to university schools of music in Boston and New York. We will also be taking the opportunity to see professional musicians perform, attending an Opera at the Metropolitan Opera, shows on Broadway, Symphony Concerts in Carnegie Hall, a myriad of jazz gigs and soaking up all the musical sights and sounds on offer in such dynamic and arts-rich cities.

We will be performing in the Central Park Bandshell, Boston Common, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Cathedral of St. John Devine, aboard the USS Intrepid and many other locations throughout NY and Boston.

The music tour is an invaluable opportunity for students to work towards the goal of representing not only our school but New Zealand internationally. Students develop to a much higher level of musicality than they ever would normally. With three weeks of focused music making and education, students make huge gains as musicians. They also learn life skills, leadership skills, self-management skills and make connections with other students and musicians for life.

Our Music Tour is the single most important event that our music department organises. It has the greatest impact on student development, education and teamwork with our music students.

These funds will be used for specific students, struggling to raise the funds for the tour. Any excess will go towards all students and will allow us to an additional concert, workshop etc. to our itinerary.




The steel has been constructed for the new Science Block and the concrete has been poured for both the ground and level one floors.

Work continues on the foundations Of the Performing Arts Centre (PAC Or school hall) and the steel framing has started going up. The new PAC will be completed by the end of Term 2 2019.


Work on our drainage around the school has continued. A rain garden is being constructed to help manage the drainage into the city system.


It has been an extraordinary privilege to have spent the last term away travelling, visiting schools in Britain and Europe and studying at the Graduate School of Education, at Harvard University in Boston. This amazing opportunity was thanks to being awarded the Woolf Fisher Trust Fellowship. My thanks to our Board of Trustees for supporting my time away, Carla Smith for assuming the Acting Principal role and my Senior Leadership Team (SLT) for taking up some additional duties during my absence. What a great team am blessed to work with.

It has been truly wonderful to have the time to visit and Observe other schools across different countries, talk with other educationalists and study and reflect. So what did learn over this time away? Firstly, that despite different systems, schools across the western world are remarkably similar, and are grappling with many of the same issues as we do here in New Zealand. Nearly every public education system across the world is in the process Of some form Of reform to try and meet the challenge of how to best educate people for the modern and digital world.

The schools I visited could easily be grouped into two types: firstly those undertaking radical changes based around what is commonly regarded as “21st Century Learning” (e.g. open plan environments and Project Based Learning); and secondly those schools making more moderate developments around shifting teaching practice (e.g. blending in digital technologies and having more varied learning opportunities). Those schools engaged in more radical changes were characterised by having students from lower socio-economic and often ethnically diverse areas. They were driven by a sense of urgency that “schools need to change” (i.e. not engaging students) and “students were failing (e.k. poor attendance and low academic results). The other schools making moderate changes were all based in higher socio-economic communities. These schools were perceived as popular (i.e. strong enrolments), were achieving good outcomes (e.g. attendance and academic results) and had no community desire for radical changes.

In terms of the use of digital technologies in schools, my observations found the access and use in teaching and learning varied widely between schools and even widely within schools. This was the same regardless of the school’s socio-economic type, and regardless of the dominant teaching instruction (e.g. traditional or progressive). I do believe that New Zealand schools overall have a higher level of integration. NZ school wifi coverage is typically much stronger and more accessible, and technologies used more by students in their learning. My perceptions are well supported by the recent findings of the World Economic Forum’s The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18, which ranked New Zealand schools first equal with Singapore (out of 137 countries) on the topic: “to what extent is the internet used in schools for learning purposes”.

There was plenty I saw and experienced that I liked and that I did not. I also felt very affirmed by the high quality of our teachers here at Cashmere High School, the balance of our programmes, and the strong and positive culture that we have as a community.

Nga mihi nui

Mark Wilson




The southern end of the new R-Block with an external passageway to walk through after hours from the front carpark to the gym and library




The Eastern side of the new modern R-Block



The new Art Design Classrooms including high specced specialist student desktops.



Busy at work in one of the downstairs Art rooms.


The new wide and open stairs inside R-Block… one of the best features according to students keen to avoid congested corridors.



Students utilising the wide corridors and break-out spaces outside the upstairs classrooms.





Around the school, the underground infrastructure is getting dug up and replaced. These works have been disruptive for movement around the school and aren’t visible once completed but are part of the essential services for a school.


Goodbye to the PAC.


As Stage One of the Redevelopment comes to a close discussions turn to how to make the most of the space created, how to decorate the buildings and for the Cashmere High School Foundation Trust the question of how to honour those who have walked these halls before.

At the top of the R-Block foyer staircase were once was a blank space now stands a beautiful mural in tribute to some of the many past pupils who have gone on in life to achieve enormous things. It features an enormous array of achievers from artists and musicians, media personalities and scientists, business people, sports people, environmentalists and humanitarians and serves as a visual and very real reminder to all students of Cashmere High School, past, present and future, that with a Cashmere High School education you really can do anything.




For a closer look follow this link  –   Past Pupils Mural   –   pressing the [ctrl and + keys] together will allow you to zoom in and read the profiles.

The limitations of website images being what they are, this image does not do the Mural justice. I would highly recommend calling to the school itself to see the Mural in all its glory. In life, it stands more than 2 metres wide and was designed by Tonni Wojtas of TwoTone Design.


There was substantial property works underway over the Christmas school holiday break, with Stage 1 works finally coming to a conclusion and the Stage 2 works getting underway. This has all been a massive project, especially working around these while trying to keep the school operating as “normal”. The following are some photos of the major works…

1 Cashmere High School’s old Performing Arts Centre (PAC or School Hall) just prior to demolition for the construction of the exciting new performing arts building – due to be completed by end of Term 1 2019.


2 The foundations are down for the construction of a new Science Block with seven new labs – as an extension to our two-story A Block. This new Science Block should be ready for student use after Term 3 this year.


3 Prefab classrooms have been relocated to behind W and K Blocks, and will now be the new K6 and K7 classrooms and ESOL office. Two other prefab classrooms have been uplifted and relocated to the front field (now called M6 and M7 classrooms).

4 There have been a large number of underground pipes dug up and replaced around the school. This replacement of the old and damaged underground infrastructure will continue into Term 1.




Official Opening of R-Block.

The first of the new buildings (R Block) was officially opened on Thursday 25th January, by Sir Tipene O’Regan. The highly
respected Ngai Tahu kaumatua, academic, businessman and iwi leader has had a strong and active relationship with Cashmere High
School over recent years, it was an honour to have a person of such significance and status open and bless this new
building. This occasion also marks the end of Stage 1 of our school’s property rebuild programme.
This new block includes three large art classrooms and offices for Heads of School on the
ground floor, and upstairs four English classrooms and a large workspace for teachers. This
new block has an outside walkway to allow easy access to the school gym and library after
hours from the front of the school.



Unveiling of the new Whakairo (carvings) on the School Whare.

On the morning of Friday 9th February members of our school community gathered
to officially unveil and bless the new whakairo (mahi, amo and koruru) mounted
on the front of our school whare. These carvings were organised and lead by
master carver Matua Tairoa Flanagan (a father of past pupil Te Matau Hopu
Flanagan CHS 2016). Cashmere High is very grateful for the outstanding work and skill of
Tairoa, and how he allowed students and staff to assist in the carving process.
Thank you to Eruena Tarena of Ngai Tahu and parent at our school who led the
blessing ceremony on this special morning. Many thanks to the large number of
people who contributed to this wonderful new addition to our school.





Leigh’s Construction is currently establishing themselves onsite and beginning preliminary work of the scheduled Stage 2 programme of projects. The full list of actual works in Stage 2 were outlined in Term 3’s Newsletter.

The first projects to get underway will be:

• Construction work for our new Science extension/block to A Block.
• Asphalt the area (e.g. walkways) around the new ‘Portal Block’.
• Uplift and move the two prefab classrooms (M7-10) from alongside the PAC and ‘sacred lawn’ on-going on the front field, the second behind W and K Blocks.
• Alterations to K Block.
• Digging up and replacing various underground pipe infrastructure.
• Then over the Christmas break the demolition of the school PAC (hall).


The Board of Trustees has paid through the school’s locally raised funds for a new bus layby, which was constructed over the Term 3-4 break. This area widens our Rose Street – Barrington Street loop road, to enable buses to have more space to safely park off the school’s driveway to better allow students to board and exit.
To complete this project there will be new trees planted to replace the Silver Birches that were removed from the driveway area as part of this development.



The last major piece of work within Stage 1 of the redevelopment is the completion of the new ‘Portal Block’ (which was previously the north-south wing of B Block). There were some complications in the early stages of this build, with this new block now due to be finished just prior to Christmas, for the school to occupy and use as from the start of the 2018 school year. This new block will include Art classrooms and offices for our Heads of School (Deans) on the ground floor, and then English and Media classrooms on the first floor, along with a large open staff workroom.


The tendering process to appoint the construction company for Stage 2 is currently being completed, with actual works planning to commence within next month. The intention is for all of these works to be managed through to completion in 2019. The specific works are still to be confirmed once the pricing and appointment process is confirmed. The current designs include the following:

• Construction of a new specialist Science block extending onto A Block
• Demolition and construction of a new Performing Arts Centre (PAC), including an 800 seat auditorium and two new large Drama rooms.
• Further replacement of underground water pipes and infrastructure
• Substantial refurbishment of existing classroom spaces across the school (especially S and K Blocks) and new landscaping of outside areas.


The main build of Stage 1 is the central ‘portal block’. On the site of the demolished north-south wing of B Block. After a range of delays, you can see the framing going up for this new block which will include Arts classrooms and the Heads of School offices on the ground floor, and English and Media classrooms and staff workspace on the first floor. Originally planned to be finished for the start of Term 4, this building is now scheduled for completion over the school holidays, for use for the beginning of 2018.

The other parts of Stage 1 are mostly completed, although a range of finishing details are still being done. These works have included:
• Construction of a new Special Education block (currently being used by art classes)
• External strengthening of the outside of A and B Blocks
• Extension to Library for new Careers and Storage rooms
• Construction of toilets and changing facilities for the gymnasium


After extensive planning and design works, Cashmere High School is now beginning the construction phase of the redevelopment project.

Stage 1 commenced over the Christmas break and will continue throughout 2017. The designers and project managers are Athfield Architects Ltd, and construction is being completed by Arrow International. Stage 2 will go out to tender later in the year with all the construction work expected to be completed by 2019.

Stage 1 includes:

Despite some initial disruptions, this is an exciting time for Cashmere High School with this redevelopment expected to affect most of the schools teaching and learning environment and ultimately serve the cashmere community for the next fifty years.



Remembering Lady Christina McCombs, who cooked whitebait for the Queen, and passed away just short of her 100th birthday this August. ♥

In 1955, Lady McCombs married Sir Terence McCombs, a former Lyttelton MP and the first principal of Cashmere High School. She took in his four children Elizabeth, David, Peter and Patrick and gave birth to their youngest child John. In 1956 when Terence McCombs took up the role as the first Headmaster of Cashmere High School she played an influential role in helping shape the new school – Including choosing the school colours (maroon and gold), logo, original uniform design and digging out the original swimming pool.

“Together they shaped Cashmere and in turn Cashmere shaped them both,” said her son Peter McCombs.

She went to the United Kingdom in 1974 to support her husband as the appointed New Zealand High Commissioner in London.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other dignitaries came to New Zealand House in London to attend an official dinner which featured whitebait.

“She found herself in the position of having to roll up her sleeves and help with cooking and serving of the fresh whitebait. The hired professional chefs found themselves completely mystified when 5kg of fresh whitebait arrived having just been flown in from New Zealand,” said Peter McCombs.

Lady McCombs attended Christchurch Girls’ High School before she trained in home science and taught at the then Christchurch Technical College.

She was involved with Cashmere High School, Sumner School, joined in and supported many local groups and served on committees. She was also a patron with Plunket and worked with mothers through branches in Redcliffs, Heathcote, Ferrymead and Woolston.

Lady McCombs was a well-known figure for her contributions to education and the wider community. Christina was awarded the Queens Service Medal for community Service in the 2007 New Year Honours.

Past and present staff and students from the school attended her funeral, and our Cashmere High School community’s sympathy and condolences are with her family.


In April 2016, a team led by Athfield Architects was appointed to redevelop Cashmere High School as part of the Ministry of Education’s Christchurch Schools Rebuild Programme. The scope of this redevelopment includes remediation of earthquake damage and weather tightness issues, repair of underground infrastructure and an upgrade of the school’s teaching facilities to meet the current and future needs of Cashmere High School.

Since this time, Athfield Architects has been working closely with CHS staff and students to develop a concept for the redevelopment of the school. These designs are being developed in conjunction with a team of highly experienced local consultants including; Holmes Consulting (structural and civil engineers), Beca (mechanical, electrical and fire engineers), Geotech Consulting (geo-tech engineer), AES (acoustic engineer) and Aecom (quantity surveying).

The design remains subject to strict budgetary constraints set out by the Ministry of Education, however, the intent is to undertake the following developments:
• New Science Hub
• New Portal Block (Visual Arts & English)
• New Performing Arts Centre
• New Special Education Facility
• New Gym Changing Rooms
• New Library Extension
• Refurbishment & strengthening to existing Blocks

A large part of the school redevelopment will focus on rebuilding and refurbishing the school’s teaching facilities. This includes the construction of two large new teaching blocks with accommodation for the Science, Arts and English Faculties. These blocks – the Science Hub and the Portal Block – are being designed specifically with current and future teaching in mind.

The proposed new Portal Block from across the Sacred Lawn. The block will replace the existing B-Block Art classrooms and will link together A & B Blocks (right) and the Admin Block (left). The block will contain new Visual Arts teaching spaces on the ground floor and new English teaching spaces and a shared staff workroom on the first floor.

The proposed new Portal Block from across the Sacred Lawn. The block will replace the existing B-Block Art classrooms and will link together A & B Blocks (right) and the Admin Block (left). The block will contain new Visual
Arts teaching spaces on the ground floor and new English teaching spaces and a shared staff workroom on the first floor.

In addition, the existing teaching blocks built mostly between the 1950-70s will be selectively upgraded to improve their operation allow them to support modern teaching methods. The extent of refurbishment will depend on final budgets but it is intended that A, B, D, K and S Blocks are all refurbished in some form.

As part of the campus redevelopment, a new Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is proposed to replace the current PAC which is leaking and not fit for purpose. This will contain an 800-seat auditorium (large enough to seat two-year groups), two drama teaching spaces, music practice and rehearsal spaces and an auditorium foyer which will double as breakout spaces when the auditorium is not in use. The auditorium will be a similar scale to Burnside High School’s Aurora Centre and will provide an asset not just for Cashmere High School but for the wider South Christchurch community. The venue is being designed as a multi-purpose space accommodating anything from school assemblies and prize givings to concerts and productions.

The proposed new PAC from the front Field Admin Block on left). The building will form a new face to the school and open onto a new ātea space in front of the Sacred Lawn.

Aerial view of the proposed redevelopment from above the Rose Street entrance with the new PAC being constructed in place of the current PAC. Adjacent to this a new Special Education Block will be constructed.


Christchurch’s Cashmere High School is preparing to embark on a major $21.8 million dollar upgrade.

The draft plan for the major project is expected to cost about $1m more than the $20.8m dollars allocated by the Ministry of Education, but the board of trustees is confident the school can plug any overspend.

The project includes a proposal to demolish and rebuild the school hall, which has problems with leaking.

The hall’s capacity of 400 would be doubled to fit 800, principal Mark Wilson said.

Cashmere High school principal Mark Wilson says a $20 million upgrade of the school's facilities will take three years to complete.

Cashmere High school principal Mark Wilson says a $20 million upgrade of the school’s facilities will take three years to complete.

It would be too small to fit all of the school’s 1900 students, but Wilson said the space had a variety of uses.

Choirs, music groups, drama, theatre sports and guest speakers were among those who would benefit.

The major upgrade was originally scheduled for 2018, but an announcement was made last year to bring it forward by two years due to urgent repairs needed on leaky buildings.

Work had not begun yet, but Wilson expected it to begin over the Christmas break.

The final cost of the project would be determined by the market, he said.

“We believe that it is becoming more competitive in the construction market for pricing, so are hoping this will mean our budget will be able to go further,” he said.

Wilson said the upgrade was likely to go over budget, but Board of Trustees Chair Geordie Hooft said there were a range of options the school could pursue.

Hooft said the school had “savings” it could use. Fundraising was also an option, as was going into debt – “which sounds scary, but schools are allowed to borrow money and there are safeguards in place to ensure it’s done responsibly”.

Wilson said the current facilities were “fragile”, with underground pipes held together by clamps.

Students were using the toilets in the teaching blocks as gym changing rooms.

Music groups could no longer practice in rehearsal rooms.

“The leaky area [in those rooms] was so bad there was the risk of mould,” Wilson said.

He said the pending upgrade would eliminate these issues.

The school’s special education unit, which also leaked, would be demolished and replaced under the proposal.

New arts and science facilities would be built.

The school waiting for final sign off by the Ministry of Education, Wilson said.

He estimated the project could take up to three years to complete, and said it would be carried out in stages to reduce potential disruption.

Reported by: EMILY MURPHY
08:45, July 7 2016


Aerial Tour – Drone Flight over Cashmere High School – May 2016.

Credit: Active Planet


Plans for a $20 million dollar upgrade of Cashmere High School have been delayed by at least eight months, despite urgent repairs needed on leaky buildings.

The major upgrade was originally scheduled for 2018, but last year an announcement was made to bring it forward by two years, to coincide with urgent works in April 2016.

Work has not begun yet and is unlikely to start before Christmas, principal Mark Wilson said.

Cashmere High school

There were a “range of reasons” for the delay, he said, including discussions with the Ministry of Education on roll size and a budget review process.

The work is part of a $138m Government funding round for repairs to five Christchurch schools.

BOT chair Geordie Hooft said a hall the size of The James Hay Theatre would be required to fit the entire school.

BOT chair Geordie Hooft said a hall the size of The James Hay Theatre would be required to fit the entire school.

The school was in the process of finalising its master plan, Wilson said. Part of that would determine which buildings needed to be repaired, and where rebuilds were possible.

Board of Trustees chairman Geordie Hooft said the current facilities were “not comfortable” to operate in. There was a sense of urgency.

Water occasionally dripped into a storage room connected to the performing arts centre, he said. He’d seen first hand “the water running in”.

Hooft said the centre was a priority, but funding constraints meant they had to do their best with the resources available.

“In a perfect world we’d build something like [Burnside High School’s] Aurora Centre, but that would be a dream.”

The school’s special needs education building leaked and had earthquake damage. The school’s hall also had issues with leaking and was too small to fit all 1860 students.

Hoof said a hall as big as the “James Hay theatre” would be required to accommodate students in the future – something that was not possible.

“It is one of the bigger issues,” he said.

“It could take $5m just to build a new hall – that’s 25 percent of the budget gone.”

Money was needed to upgrade classrooms and for horizontal infrastructure, he said.

“I’m sure every department would be able to spend $20m if they could get everything they wanted.”

The redevelopment included plans for a new visual arts block, special education facilities and drama and science blocks, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure service Jerome Sheppard said.

“We are consulting extensively with the school to ensure the redevelopment will meet the current and future needs of the school.”

The project would be done in stages, with completion scheduled for early 2019.

Meanwhile, Wilson said expecting construction to start in April was always going to be an ambitious target.

The process was complex, he said, and the school still needed to go through a detailed design stage, before the project went out to tender.

Reported by:: EMILY MURPHY
May 31, 2016.


Cashmere High student Nola Smart accepts a $100,000 sustainability prize from United Arab Emirates vice president Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Mexico president Enrique Pena Nieto and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.

Cashmere High student Nola Smart accepts a $100,000 sustainability prize from United Arab Emirates vice president Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Mexico president Enrique Pena Nieto and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.

An energy-conscious Christchurch school has won $100,000 to install solar panels, a wind turbine, and kinetic energy-producing tiles.

After four years building its vision to become sustainable, Cashmere High School stood out among nearly 1500 entries from 97 countries to win the United Arab Emirates Government-funded Zayed Future Energy Prize.

Students Nola Smart, 17, and Lily Williams, 15, and teacher Leith Cooper travelled to Abu Dhabi to collect the award last week.

Principal Mark Wilson said the win came after one of its student-led interest groups, the Sustainability Council, started the ecoDriver project in 2012.

The school had since cut its electricity usage by a third, including saving $30,000 a year by installing LED lightbulbs, and running a “Switch off” campaign.

“Our kids really took it up.”

Along with its energy saving accomplishments, Cashmere High’s innovative plans to produce its own energy caught the attention of judges for the international award.

Wilson said the oil-generating Middle Eastern country was trying to find other ways to encourage sustainability.

The money would fund its plans to install solar panels to reduce carbon emission by 5 tonnes per annum, and generate long-term savings of $30,000 over five years.

A New Zealand-designed wind turbine would become a “highly visible focal point”, attracting visitors to the school and generating significant education and publicity.

Piezoelectric floor tiles – which students walk and jump on to generate electricity to charge their mobile devices – would become a “fun and dynamic” way to educate about generating sustainable energy.

“It will be fairly revolutionary in what we’re going to be doing,” Wilson said.

“Ultimately the benefactor of this initiative will be the taxpayer. In a sense the school’s not going to be financially benefiting from this.”

Young people were observant too, and the school had to lead by example, he said.

“You can actually show the kids that not only are we trying to teach the good values and concepts around good sustainability, but we’re putting it into practice as well.

“This award will enable our school to invest in a new energy future that is sustainable and inspires teenagers in New Zealand to take action.

January 24 2016.