From The Principal

Over the term break, I was fortunate to visit Japan with my family.  Japan has been on my ‘bucket list’ for many years and various reasons, but one of these is because my nana’s brother was killed during WWII as a 22-year-old gunner for the NZ Army and is buried in Japan.  No one in our family has ever been to Japan, so no one has visited his final resting place.  I always told my grandmother that I would get there.  This year, I was able to.

What made the occasion so special was that we were able to visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Yokohama and attend the ANZAC Day service.  With us, we took his dog tags and medals, and by coincidence, the ANZAC Day service this year was held in the NZ section of the cemetery.

The service was very formal with a large number of dignitaries from Turkey, Canada, Australia, NZ and Japan and around 200 people in attendance.  Some fellow Kiwis and Aussies were like us, on holiday and paying their respects to our fallen ANZACs.

Despite the passage of time, the ANZAC spirit endures.  Monuments with the names of fallen soldiers reminding us of their ultimate sacrifice are not just in New Zealand but located all over the world.  While ANZAC Day memorial services were happening in New Zealand, many more were taking place around the globe, wherever New Zealanders were or had fought or had died, even in Yokohama, Japan.

The NZ Ambassador to Japan, Mr Hamish Cooper, paid tribute to the ANZAC soldiers by outlining a set of important attributes they all had; courage, compassion, comradeship and a commitment to a cause that resulted in immense sacrifice.

He then challenged us by saying that the best way to honour our ANZACs, and those in the services and in various positions who play a part in protecting our freedom and peace, is by reaffirming our commitment to do the right thing.  He highlighted that there is no better way to pay tribute than for us to be fully committed to creating a better and safer world for ourselves and our descendants, as it is through our actions that we will remember them.

As I reflected on these messages I felt affirmed that here at Carmel, through our values, the service our students provide to others in our community, and the way they get involved and make the most of opportunities provided, each of our young women is committed to creating a better world.  At assembly, I shared these messages with our students and staff and thanked them.  Thank you to the staff for facilitating opportunities and supporting our students as role models, and to our students for taking action and doing more than just talking the talk.

Next week we celebrate Māia week, previously known as ‘Bully free week’.  I hope these messages around creating a better and safer world continue to resonate with each of us daily and have a part to play in us standing up and doing the right thing.  At assembly, our Heads of Council, Savannah Castles and Daragh Bonnici, explained the renaming of the week to Māia week as the focus is not to be on the negatives of bullying, but is to be on how we must have the courage to be an upstander rather than a bystander.

Savannah and Daragh set the challenge by saying “YOU have to have the courage to stand up for someone if you see bullying, have the courage to make the right decision, have the courage to take action and support others, and have the courage to ask for help if you need it”.  The week will conclude with a pink shirt day and students are encouraged to bring a gold coin donation and money for stalls on the top courts during Friday lunchtime.

Finally, as you will also see in the newsletter this week, a junior and senior student from each House was recognised and awarded the Spirit of Mercy badge.  These students were identified by others in their House, their House leaders and Deans, as young women who are excellent role models for all of us as we continue to try to live daily as women of Mercy.  To these young women who were acknowledged and received the Spirit of Mercy badge, congratulations and thank you.  Whilst there are many works of Mercy occurring in our community, thank you to all for the part you play, and may we all continue to strive to be the best we can be in all aspects of our lives.