Our Curriculum

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We offer quality educational opportunities across a diverse range of subjects, supporting academic achievement for all students. Find out more about what we offer below:




Physical Education (P.E.) and Health 

The P.E. and Health programmes at Tarawera High School aim to provide all students, from Year 7 through to Year 13, the opportunity to develop and improve their knowledge and skill in a variety of activities; such as strategies and tactics, sports, adventure-based learning, health, modified games, social responsibility, defence force, personal fitness, leadership, teamwork and sports. Students will gain the education needed to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, both now and in the future. 

Students have the opportunity to use the Junior P.E. and Health courses as a stepping-stone to the Senior Sports Performance courses. The Senior courses help students to further develop their skills in the sport area, with programmes including Outdoor Education, Health, Sport Performance, and Defence.

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Tarawera High School prides itself on its sporting achievements. We have a variety of different codes to complement our student’s academic studies. There are traditional sports such as athletics, rugby, netball, soccer, basketball and volleyball, alongside rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, golf, waka-ama, touch, multisport and badminton, as examples of the many sporting opportunities for students. 

Our sporting opportunities suit all abilities and ages from Year 7 through to Year 13 and combined with their academic success students will become actively involved, confident and connected graduates of Tarawera High School.


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The Tarawera High School Technology Department offers a wide range of courses, with many students taking more than one option. Courses include strong design, theory and practical elements that provide opportunities for students to study topics that are relevant to the Tarawera High School student body. These practical outcomes provide good ‘take home’ value for the students, with options including Design and Visual Communication (computer graphics), Food and Hospitality, Textiles (soft materials), and Resistant materials (wood and plastics). 

The senior technology courses uses planned assessments to set students up for the appropriate vocational pathways, including some of which that are Industry based standards. 

Throughout the different technology courses, students learn the skills and knowledge that supports further study at a tertiary institution or apprenticeship within each relevant industry. 

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Social Sciences

The Social Studies curriculum draws on a wide variety of cultures, social issues and heritages that allow issues to be compared and contrasted to students’ own cultures and community. These programmes constitute of just one of the many strands of learning from Year 7 through to Year 10.

Using Vocational Pathways, Tourism and Senior Social Studies programmes are offered in senior school. This initiative supports students who wish to further their learning at a degree level, with Senior Social Studies providing a combination of Social Studies, History, Psychology, Classical Studies, and Legal Studies. For students who wish to pursue the Vocational Pathway into the Tourism Industry, they are offered the chance to complete units towards National Certificates in Tourism, Levels 2 and 3.


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Science offers students a way of investigating, understanding, and explaining our natural, physical world and the wider universe. It involves generating and testing ideas, gathering evidence – through making observations, communicating, and carrying out investigations and modeling – in order to develop scientific knowledge, understanding, and explanations. 

Drawing on our local environment and industries as contexts for learning scientific applications, the course demonstrates that Scientific progress comes from logical, systematic work and from creative insight, built on a foundation of respect for evidence. This course takes care to respect the ways that different cultures and periods of history have contributed to the development of science. 

Students that participate in Science will participate in a variety of Unit Standards and Achievement Standards that prepare them for either the workforce or further study.

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English is the study, use and enjoyment of the English language and its literature. Literacy in English gives students access to the understanding, knowledge, and skills they need to participate fully in the social, cultural, political, and economic life of New Zealand and the wider world. To be successful participants, they need to be effective oral, written, and visual communicators who are able to think critically and in depth. 

At Tarawera High School, English is a fundamental and core part of the curriculum, running from Year 7 through to Year 13. The students practice making meaning of (listening, reading and viewing) and creating meaning (speaking, writing and presenting) at each level of the curriculum, reflecting the way in which achievement objectives are structured. 

Students that participate in English will cover a whole range of the reading and writing curriculum with a growing emphasis on developing critical text analysis skills and increasingly sophisticated text production. This will help them to become increasingly skilled and sophisticated speakers and listeners, writers and readers, presenters and viewers.

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Creative Industries

Creative Industries offers students the ability to engage in real-world tasks using Industry-Based Standards and equipment. We offer courses that target both traditional and contemporary Visual Art through drawing, painting and printmaking as well as digital photography, moving image, design and illustration. 

Using the new Vocational Pathways initiative we support the development of students that are diversely talented and ready to further their learning in Tertiary Institutions or through employment. The courses offered within Creative Industries allow students to work on projects that cover a range of curriculum areas and creates an environment and culture that is similar to the workplace. 

Students that participate in Creative Industries would be interested in a future career as a practicing Artist, Photographer, Designer, Architect, Illustrator or a range of Exhibition and Gallery Technician positions.

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Mathematics is the exploration and use of patterns and relationships in quantities, space, and time. Statistics is the exploration and use of patterns and relationships in data. These two disciplines are related but different ways of thinking and of solving problems. Both equip students with effective means for investigating, interpreting, explaining, and making sense of the world in which they live. 

Students develop the ability to think creatively, critically, strategically, and logically. They learn to structure and to organise, to carry out procedures flexibly and accurately, to process and communicate information, and to enjoy intellectual challenge.

The students also develop other important thinking skills. They learn to create models and predict outcomes, to conjecture, to justify and verify, and to seek patterns and generalisations. They learn to estimate with reasonableness, calculate with precision, and understand when results are precise and when they must be interpreted with uncertainty. Mathematics and Statistics have a broad range of practical applications in everyday life, in other learning areas, and in workplaces.

Mathematics and Statistics is taught through a wide range of social, cultural, scientific, technological, health, environmental, and economic contexts.

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Numeracy skills give students the skills to solve problems that they will be faced with in everyday life. By the time they have NCEA Level 1, (usually gained in Year 11) the students will have numeracy skills. This includes an understanding of when to use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as being able to find the fraction or percentage of a number. They will be able to measure and calculate within the metric system e.g. mass, time, length, volume, and temperature. They will also be able to interpret and use statistics to make informed decisions for their life or workplace. 

There is the opportunity in Year 11 to build up the necessary mathematical skills for those who would like to pursue Year 12 and Year 13 Mathematics. This would be beneficial as Year 12 and Year 13 Mathematics is a requirement for entry into many tertiary courses. Junior Mathematics is also the foundation needed for Senior Mathematics, this is taught through three strands – Number and Algebra, Geometry and Measurement, and Statistics. 

Number and Algebra

Number involves using mental, written, or machine calculation methods to calculate and estimate. It also involves knowing when it is appropriate to use estimation and being able to discern whether results are reasonable. Algebra involves generalising and representing the patterns and relationships found in numbers, shapes, and measures.

Geometry and Measurement

Geometry involves recognising and using the properties and symmetries of shapes and describing position and movement. Measurement involves quantifying the attributes of objects, using the appropriate units and instruments. It also involves predicting and calculating rates of change. 


Statistics involves identifying problems that can be explored by the use of appropriate data. This is done through designing investigations, collecting data, exploring and using patterns and relationships in collected data, solving problems, and communicating the findings. Statistics also involves interpreting statistical information, evaluating data-based arguments, and dealing with uncertainty and variation.

Performing Arts

Tarawera High School is home to some very talented Performing Arts students. We offer opportunities for junior students to participate in Music, Dance and Drama from Year 7 up to Year 10 in preparation for our senior Performing Arts Academy. In this subject we offer an integrated Performing Arts Programme which has been extremely successful for our students who have achieved a large amount of credits in this programme.

Our extra-curricular programme allows students to be involved in a range of Performing Arts disciplines from School Production to Kapa Haka. We are very proud of our students who have reaped the rewards from performing in school productions such as ‘Grease’ and at the Tuwharetoa festival in Taupō.


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Te Reo

Te reo Māori is indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a taonga recognised under the Treaty of Waitangi, a primary source of our nation’s self-knowledge and identity, and an official language. By understanding and using te reo Māori, New Zealanders become more aware of the role played by the indigenous language and culture in defining and asserting our point of difference in the wider world.

By learning te reo and becoming increasingly familiar with tikanga, Māori students strengthen their identities, while non-Māori journey towards shared cultural understandings. All who learn te reo Māori help to secure its future as a living, dynamic and rich language. As they learn, they come to appreciate that diversity is a key to unity.


Tikanga can be described as general behaviour guidelines for daily life and interaction in Māori culture. Tikanga is commonly based on experience and learning that has been handed down through generations. It is based on logic and common sense associated with a Māori worldview. Participating in this class gives the students the opportunity to explore and understand some of the values and beliefs that are embedded in Maori culture.




Tarawera High School students have the opportunity to learn the Chinese language within our curriculum.

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Alternative Options

Defence Academy

The Defence Academy is an area of learning that uses teamwork, trust, leadership and resilience. Students are able to apply new knowledge and skills that they have learnt which is reflective of a defence based environment. Activities that the students take part in during the programme will include: Fitness, Marching, TeamBuilding, Leadership, Water safety, Interview techniques, CV creation and NZDF applications.

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The students will take part in community based activities such as Waitangi day commemorations as well as being a significant part of the Kawerau Anzac Service. This academy is a great opportunity for those who are considering a role in the New Zealand Defence Force.


Gateway programme

The Gateway programme is a structured hands-on workplace learning opportunity for senior, work-ready students. Students who participate in this programme are those who have an interest in a particular career pathway and just want to see what it is really like on a day-to-day basis. 


Students find work-based learning helps them understand the skills required in their chosen career pathway and also may help lead to an apprenticeship, employment or future training opportunities. Importantly, it helps students understand what is involved in the move from school to work.

Find out more about the Gateway Programme


The Step-UP programme is available to Tarawera High School students. The purpose of Step-UP is to:

  • Increase student retention in education.
  • Raise student achievement of NCEA Level 2 qualification or an equivalent Level 2 qualification as targeted by the Government’s Better Public Service goals.
  • Improve transitions from secondary to further education and training work.

Step-UP programmes are available for our students at Toi Ohomai Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Opotoki and at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Courses available are grouped into the six Vocational Pathways and provide either:

  • A try-out of three different courses – one in Term 1, another in Term 2 and a third in Term 3 within a Vocational Pathway of interest, or
  • A one year intensive course in a Vocational Pathway.

For example – a student can select the Services Industries Pathway and do Term 1 Food and Beverage; Term 2 Hospitality and Tourism; Term 3 Outdoor Experiences OR a one year course working towards a Level 2 New Zealand certificate in (for example) Logistics and Distribution.

Find out more about Step-UP


Tarawera High School is a member of the Volcanics eLearning community, giving students access to teachers from other schools nationally through eLearning. Students are able to use this opportunity to resolve a “timetable clash” or to study a different course or study at a different level. 

We also have access to a number of courses provided by tertiary institutions, which adds to the range of options available.

Please note that the cost of Tertiary courses are covered by STAR funding, Gateway Funding or by the student and their families where funding is not available.

Find out more about elearning