There is an air of mystery and intrigue surrounding the Kahunui Programme, perpetuated by the fact that students have to wait until Year 10 before they get to experience the magic of Kahunui.
Those who have been, hold the experience dear. Many describe their month at the riverside campus as one of the most challenging, life-changing, and bonding experiences they have faced. But they are hesitant to say more, in case they influence the expectations of those in the years to follow.
Kahunui is a major differentiator for St Cuthbert’s College, and is an experience that helps support each girl to develop her inner confidence, and the belief, that “yes she can”. It prepares them for leadership roles and to confidently face life’s challenges.
Built on the philosophy of education by enquiry, the Kahunui Programme is a month-long residential experience, which immerses the girls into a very different learning environment. They are encouraged to question more, challenge more, and enquire further – to think deeply about the world they live in and delve into problems to develop creative and innovative solutions.
Kahunui aims to advance St Cuthbert’s girls’ academic and social development and help increase their levels of physical, emotional and intellectual fitness.
“Kahunui expands the girls’ outlook on the world and helps them to define their place in it”.
Nestled at the base of the forest of the Kahikatea Range, on the bank of the Waiotahe River, less than 45 minutes from Opotiki, the Kahunui campus is described by Director Peter Evans as “providing social education in the outdoors”.
“It differs from the more traditional Outdoor Education Centres as the Kahunui Programme focuses on building teamwork, resilience, and self-management through activities in an environment that supports and nurtures the individual.
“Our Programme builds life-long connections – connection to the environment, connection to others, and importantly connection to self.”
Pete Evans, Kahunui Programme Director
The timing of this experience is also critical for the students’ social, physical, and emotional development. It comes at a time in their lives when they are no longer children, but have not yet fully stretched their wings as independent young adults. Year 10 has been demonstrated as the perfect time for this Programme and students and parents agree.
Sophia Wood, attended Kahunui earlier this year and explains that she wouldn’t have wanted to be any younger. “Kahunui comes at a time when you have got over the transition from Middle School to Year 9. In Year 9 there is so much happening and we need that year to settle in, forge friendships and connect with the school. Year 10 is also the prefect time, as it is before all the study for NCEA kicks in.”
Sophia’s Dad, Peter, loved the idea of Kahunui when he first heard about it. That was over 10 years ago when he and his wife were deciding on schools for Sophia.
“We came along to an Open Day at St Cuthbert’s and people kept mentioning Kahunui. We knew nothing about it and were quite puzzled by this distant opportunity. It became obvious it was an Outward Bound type experience.
“We could see that it was a unique opportunity for Sophia, and something that was more common for boys’ schools. We are really passionate about providing opportunities for our daughter and it figured strongly in our decision to choose St Cuthbert’s.
“It was quite a selling point, but also quite a distant benefit. We were at Year 0 and this was something 10 years in the future.
“Now that Sophia has finally experienced Kahunui, I absolutely understand the wait. Year 10 is the most appropriate age and stage. Any earlier would have been wasted. It wouldn’t have provided the opportunity for Sophia to develop and learn as much as she did,” added Peter.