Welcome to Aroha Discovery School

Aroha Discovery School is an initiative started by the registered charity Arohanui Learning Communities Trust. The charity and initiative were born from the desire of Nelson parents for a more holistic approach to education. Our programmes are based on the fundamental tenet that relationships (between students, teachers, parents, nature and the wider community) are the foundation from which children will continually spark their creativity and desire to learn, grow and thrive as confident individuals.

Please note that Aroha Discovery School is not a registered school and is not required to be when running one day programmes. The name was chosen as it is our intention to eventually register as a private school so that we may offer a full immersion programme based on our founding principles.

Kia ora all,
I wasn’t sure how to start this letter to you all today. Some of you have been with us since the beginning and so know where Aroha Discovery grew from but others have only joined us with the running of our holiday programme.

Today I’m writing to let you know that I have made the decision to step back from Arohanui Learning Communities Trust (aka Aroha Discovery School). It wasn’t an easy decision to make as I have invested 3 years of my life into growing the charity but for personal reasons it has come time to let it go.

The trust was originally set up with the main purpose of setting up an alternative school based on the democratic model. Last year we also joined forces with Alexandra Unterberger with the idea to merge the methodologies of Democratic with the Montessori method. Although we have had wonderful support for this idea the main hindrance has been finding a suitable location up to the standard the Ministry of Education require for registration.

It was decided at the beginning of this year that we would make one more attempt at getting the primary school class off the ground and we are entering into discussions with Victory School who have expressed interest in the idea of having a classroom within their school.

The members of the trust love the idea of kids being out and about enjoying the world around them, and the nature and holiday programme were seen as a good first step in the direction of ultimately getting the primary class off the ground. The programmes, however, do take a lot of effort to run and did end up serving as a distraction from the trust’s main goal.

Due to my stepping back and because the Trust is not actually required in order for the Montessori primary class to go ahead within an existing school the board has made the difficult decision to shut down the trust / Aroha Discovery Programmes. I know this will come as a disappointment to many of you but don’t fear! This is not so much an end but a new beginning…
Many of you have come to know and appreciate Mairi Lewis-Smith who has been working on our holiday programmes since the beginning. She brought her creative flair to the programme and through her the holiday programme evolved to become a lovely mix of art and nature. While each holiday programme was a collaborative effort each facilitator was responsible for planning and designing the activities for the days they led. Tamariki experienced a lot of Mairi’s skills during the running of the programme including the day we ran at the Suter Art Gallery. We could not have continued running the programmes without her constant commitment to working on them as a facilitator and the trust want to acknowledge the time and energy she put into making them a success.

Mairi runs her own Art Therapy Business called RubbaSoul Studio (sp) and she will be offering an art club programme operating from Founders Heritage Park. If you would like to continue working with Mairi you can contact her at: rubbasoularttherapy@gmail.com and request to be added to her mailing list to keep up-to-date with the services and programmes she has on offer.
Velma Vermaat has been working hard behind the scenes for Arohanui Learning Communities Trust for the last two years. She took on the role of facilitator and holiday programme manager when she returned to NZ last October after a year visiting her family in the Netherlands. She took up these roles as she wanted to ensure our programmes continued to run and she was keen to get our nature programme up and running again. As we are dissolving the trust, Velma has decided to run a holiday programme under her own social enterprise Handle With Care NZ. This new programme will be called Out & About. Her focus will be continuing to offer nature-based programmes for primary aged kids. She’s busy preparing a programme for the upcoming holidays and is looking at launching a one-day nature-based programme later this year. If these programmes are of interest to you, please follow the link to fill an Expression of Interest form or send an email to Velma at velma@handlewithcare.nz
As mentioned Alexandra and I will be continuing with one last endeavour to get the Montessori primary class up and running. If you would like to be kept up-to-date with those developments please send an email to: montessorinelson@gmail.comand ask to be added to the mailing list.
Lastly, I’d like to mention Peter Washington who has always been there in the background helping with the finances and making sure I remember to do all the things we need to do on time; and Sara Elphick without whom I could never have got the trust up and running. She was my right-hand woman during our startup and it was due to her time, commitment and support that we were able to get Aroha Discovery going. Many others have also helped us along the way and I want to thank them all for the time and support they put in.

Record Management: We will keep the private Facebook groups for the Aroha Holiday and Nature programmes until the end of April so that you have time to download any pictures of your tamariki you have not got a copy of. After this time the groups will be deleted. All enrolment information will be kept for a period of 3 months and will then be deleted. This is to allow you time to transfer your records to Out & About should you wish to do so when registering. If you would like this information deleted before then please email admin@arohadiscovery.school.nz asking for your records to be deleted – stating your child’s full name and we will do so accordingly.

It really has been such a big journey for all of us who have been involved with Aroha Discovery. There have been many learning curves and difficulties to overcome and although we’re drawing things to a close for Aroha Discovery I feel the community will continue to receive ongoing benefits from our journey as new doors open.

Thank you for sharing this adventure with us. We look forward to seeing your tamariki out in the community enjoying all that Nelson has to offer.
Ngā manaakitanga
Anne-Marie (& the Arohanui Learning Communities Trust)
A message from Mairi…

Thanks so much to the awesome families for giving me the opportunity to work with your children. It has been a privilege, I’ve loved Fairfield House and her grounds and what it offered us in respect of freedom and play, history and nature. It was my pleasure and a real joy to work as a lead facilitator creating content and activities for the program, and I will miss the experiences and fun I’ve had working with the children. It’s been a unique experience for us all and I look forward to seeing you again in the community.
RubbaSoul Art Club Ad

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