Creative writers’ course

Creative non-fiction. At first glance, it might seem an oxymoron – indeed, it did to me. ‘How can something rooted in pure fact be creative?’ I had wondered to myself when I was first introduced to the concept last Friday, at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Parnell. There I was, one of two lucky students from ACG Strathallan who attended a writing workshop entitled “Creative Non-fiction and the Short Story”.

It was the first of our two guest speakers, Bianca Zander, who worked with us on this apparently contrary genre. A recipient of the CNZ Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary, presently the editor of Little Treasures magazine, an author of two novels – as well as a multitude of works for radio, television, and film – and having taught creative writing at both AUT and MIT, to say she was an authority on the subject of writing would be quite the understatement. She explained that, in essence, creative non-fiction was “a true story well told”; the inclusion of literary devices such as dialogue and metaphorical description results in a piece which seeks to entertain as well as inform its reader. As an aspiring journalist, this concept very much appealed to me, as is hopefully apparent by the style of this article.

Ms. Zander also went on to demonstrate to us a technique for combating the bane of writers everywhere; writer’s block. We used the astutely named “One-Inch Window” – a one-inch by one-inch square cut into a piece of paper, functioning to eliminate outside distractions whilst describing a certain object viewed through the aforementioned aperture. Whilst mostly designed to prove the point that there is plenty to be described in a mere one-inch view, it was a fascinating and useful exercise nonetheless.

The second speaker was yet again undoubtedly qualified; Tracey Slaughter is a talented and accomplished multi-award-winning writer of short stories, and lecturer in creative writing at the University of Waikato. She worked with us on the skills involved with the writing of such pieces, including altering cliché opening lines to be more gripping, the best way to end a piece, and how to write characters properly. Passionate and personable, she was inspiring to everyone present, and provided welcome insight into the world of professional writing.

The workshop was, in a word, invaluable. Engaging and entertaining, we developed our abilities greatly, and added many techniques to our repertoire. I sincerely look forward to future events such as this, and wholeheartedly encourage other young writers to look into attending one such workshop too.

Although I do freely admit that the morning tea of biscuits and jelly snakes certainly contributed to my opinion.

Written by Angus Cameron who attended a writing workshop hosted by the Michael King Writer’s Centre at the National Library in Parnell.


Maadi Cup

Our rowers are on their way home today, exhausted and elated, after a great week’s rowing in Twizel. A number of crews made it through to the quarter- and semi-finals so can be very proud of their achievements.

Maadi Day 4

Wednesday was a tough day for our Maadi Cup crews Twizel at with rain and cold making conditions difficult for rowing.  Callum McNally and Jack Foster were racing today in singles and double along with Angus Percy and Sam McRae in their double.  The girls have quarter and semi finals too but rain has delayed some of these events. The plus side of all of this is that lots of study is happening!!

Maadi Day 3

Our crews had a good morning of racing yesterday with both quads finishing 5th, sending them through to repechages tomorrow. Annabel Maddock and Rosie Charge in their double and Callum McNally in the single have made it through to quarter finals on Thursday.  Sadly, the wind picked up in the afternoon so after a lot of waiting and frustration the afternoon’s races were postponed until today.  Our students’ resilience will be tested today with some tough repecharge races and it’s forecast to rain. Off the water all is well, although apparently the parents are struggling to understand some of the memes!


Maadi Day 2

A good day of racing in Twizel on Monday with crews progressing to quarter finals and repechages.   More heats today for our girls’ and boys’ quads, girls’ double and boys’ singles. All are doing well and we even managed to fit in some study!

Maadi Day 1

Our twelve Maadi Cup rowers arrived in Twizel on Saturday. They had morning and afternoon sessions of light training on the water yesterday and a parade through the town. We wish them good luck for the first of their heats today!

Club of the Week

Media Team by Coralie Smith

If you like being up to date about what is going on in the school, writing insightful articles to bring awareness of events or taking photos and capturing the culture of the school, then Media Team is the club for you.

Media Team is a student-run club that takes place every Tuesday lunchtime. The media liaison on the Student Executive works with a team of eager students that have a range of diverse interests and connections, to find out what events are happening inside and outside of school. The students then take photos and write articles to post on all social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook in order to reach our audience of students, parents and alumni. The Media Team also works with the ACG marketing department to reach the wider community and advertise the best aspects of student life at ACG Strathallan.

Being a part of this team allows all members to work together and collectively showcase a student’s point of view of everyday school life which in turn encourages other students to take an interest of what happens and what is available for them in school.

NAPTA Nomination

NAPTA Nomination for Year 13 Student

Congratulations to Oliver Winter in Year 13 who was a nominee for Best Male Lead in a Play in the Northern Area Performance Theatre Awards.

The NAPTAs recognises amateur performances, dramatic or musical, within the Northern Region Amateur Theatre industry, which stretches from Kerikeri to Pukekohe, and Oliver was nominated for his role in the Papakura Theatre Company’s stage-adaptation of Blackadder II, an 80s British Comedy TV show about Elizabethan England. Oliver played the role of Lord Percy, a less-than-intelligent sidekick to the title character, who often deludes himself with the idea that he is good with the ladies.

Although unsuccessful in winning the award, the play itself won the NAPTA award for Best Play, as well as taking both Best Male and Female Supporting Characters in a Play.

Oliver starred in our own musical production of the Wizard of Oz last year, playing the Scarecrow, and it is great to see his talents recognised. We look forward to watching his acting career grow!


An incredibly fun night was held at Strathallan this week with the first ever ACG senior maths competition taking place for ACG Auckland schools. ACG Sunderland, Parnell and Strathallan all took part and students’ brains were pushed to their limits with very challenging mathematical problems to solve as a team and individually. The thrilling night ended with the two Strathallan teams gaining victory ( Serena Jou, Cindy Lee, Jordan Shore, George Liu, Liam Nelson, Rawiri Mahue, Joshua Sinclair and Astrid Lewis). Many thanks to all participants and the ACG Strathallan Maths faculty for organising such an academically stimulating event which all participants enjoyed.

Strathallan rowers

Our Strathallan rowers performed exceptionally well at the NISS regatta this weekend,  this regatta had around 2000 rowers from schools all over the North Island competing for a place on the podium.

Our crews raced competitively through the heats and progressed through to 13 finals.  This is a huge improvement on last year and a testament to the 20+ hours of training they have been putting in each week along with the dedication of their coaches,  Charles Haggie and Mike Ruiteman.

 Stand out results came from Annabel Maddock placing 5th in the  A final under 16 single sculls, Jack Foster and Callum McNally placed 7th in the  A final under 16 double sculls, while Annabel  Maddock, Scarlet Billingham, Rosie Charge and  Felicity Billingham, coxed by Luke Desmond, placed 8th in the A final under 18 Quad (and three of these girls are aged just 15!). Annabel and Rosie also made the A final for the under 16 double sculls.   Scarlet missed out on making the A final for her single sculls race at this regatta but responded with a dominating win in the B final.

 Our rowers are now undertaking their  final preparations to be ready to compete at the 2018 Maadi Cup, being held in Twizel later this month.