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Houses build community

The names Mauao, Wairoa, Te Awanui, and Tarawera mean a great deal to the students at ACG Tauranga. Carefully chosen to honour the Bay of Plenty region, the Houses also provide a feeling of ownership and a rallying point for the ACG school community, becoming an important fixture in each student’s life.
ACG Tauranga's House quiz is a popular event on the school calendar

The ACG Tauranga school community plays a vital role in student life, generating a sense of belonging and creating opportunities for student leadership and camaraderie. And as Head Girl Chelsea Good explains, the House system – and Mauao, Wairoa, Te Awanui and Tarawera – lie at the heart of it all.

“Our House system was developed in 2016, in consultation with local iwi,” says Chelsea. “We wanted the names of each House to reflect our Bay of Plenty heritage and pride in being part of the local landscape. Each House has a unique identity special to the students within it, and to reinforce this, we’ve developed meaningful chants, mottos and logos. Our House system aims to provide a sense of community and establish a common identity all students can relate to. So, at the beginning of the year, the House Leaders established objectives around this, promoting identification with one’s House, increasing House spirit and maximising school-wide participation in House events.”

With the academic year coming to a close, we’ve spoken with our four Senior House Leaders to learn more about what their House means to them and the school spirit they’ve fostered in 2021.

Katelyn Bedford – Mauao
“I believe the House system creates a sense of belonging, introducing a competitive element to school life and bringing together groups of people who otherwise may not have connected. It helps us form tight-knit teams and friendships, build teamwork skills, and pull our ACG community together.

“As a Senior House Leader, I’ve led meetings, organised teams events, and been responsible for getting everybody to their correct races on House days. In addition, I’ve helped organise assembly segments, run events and designed House representative items like our flag and box. These responsibilities have taught me to thrive under pressure, work with and support people, and encourage participation.

“My personal highlight this year was seeing how well everyone from Years 7 to 13 worked together in the House relays at swimming sports, and with amazing results. This is Mauao’s strength! We have so much talent across the arts, sports and academics, and we pull together really well without even having to try. Our House is filled with enthusiasm and the willingness to test our skills in all sorts of events. Even those not competing are there on the stands cheering us on.”

Elise Allen – Te Awanui
“The House system plays a vital role in building inclusivity across the age groups, providing all senior students with the opportunity to form friendships with younger students. Connections between year groups are so important – they give older students the chance to develop leadership skills and provide younger students with someone to look to when in need.

“The House system also reminds students how critical it is to interact with those in their own year group. You always want to feel like you have someone on your side, and you want others to reciprocate this feeling. This mutual respect is a vital part of connecting with others – learning to value your peers and their opinions helps you grow into an honourable leader.

“Being a House Leader has opened my eyes to an entire skillset which includes organisation, conflict resolution and communication. While I have learned many valuable lessons, the highlight has undoubtedly been forming relationships with the younger students. Seeing them in passing and having so many of them acknowledge me with a smile or a wave is heart-warming. These relationships were only formed thanks to the bonding that the House system provides.”

Lily McSweeney – Wairoa
“After five years at ACG, I applied to be part of the Senior Leadership Team last year, in Year 12. I’m so grateful for the opportunity not just to become a student leader but also for the process I had to undertake to gain the position. It benefitted me in so many ways, teaching me that it’s okay to have self-confidence (why would anyone see you as a leader if you don’t believe in yourself?), and giving me an insight into the real world and what the process of getting a job might look like.

“Being Senior House Leader of Wairoa has really helped me grow as a person. I’ve been able to connect with peers from all different age groups, work alongside staff to organise important school events, and hopefully be the leader of a winning House. [The competition results were announced at our prizegiving last week, and Wairoa did take top spot, winning the House Shield.] It was great to see the students in Wairoa work together and get everyone involved in at least one school event this year. I’m incredibly grateful to have had this position in my final year of ACG, and I can certainly see the skills I’ve developed helping me in the future.”

Sarah Rutherford – Tarawera
“Holding the position of House Leader for the past two years has allowed me to be part of a wider team of both junior and senior leaders. As a result, we’ve been able to build connections with different age groups, gain insights into their ideas, and give more students a voice. Our weekly meetings have provided a fantastic platform to ensure we’re doing all we can for House events, check-in with team members we don’t always see and develop the trust and respect that’s vital for the smooth running of Tarawera.

“As House Leaders, we not only organise school events but also run House meetings, put together teams and keep the students informed about what’s coming up. However, the newest addition to our role is the STAR system, which was recently introduced to recognise and commemorate students’ individual achievements.

“I’ve loved every moment of being House Leader, from the outstanding House spirit to the pride we all hold. It’s been so rewarding to see students enjoy being part of the Tarawera team and celebrating our achievements together.”

2021 Head Girl Chelsea Good
Katelyn Bedford – Senior House Leader Mauao
Elise Allen – Senior House Leader Te Awanui
Lily McSweeney – Senior House Leader Wairoa
Sarah Rutherford – Senior House Leader Tarawera