Academy Days are a chance for our students to zero in on an area of passion, whether it be something of particular interest to them, or a possible vocational pathway. All of the academies offer learning experiences that a standard curriculum often can’t supply for example, our Artist Toolbox students spend the first half the year producing work for an exhibition that they will organise, our Makers work on real-life projects – from fruit-boxes for the local grocer, to laying concrete pads to building a greenhouse and the rugby pavilion. Below are some of the academies and what they have on offer:

Artist Toolbox | MAD Creative Academies

Our Artist Toolbox students comprise of seniors working on their senior portfolios, while juniors are able to develop personal interest art projects.

Like the other MAD Academy groups, Artist Toolbox will be presenting work at the biennial Creative Showcase held at Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake, this sell-out event features our music and dance students showcasing their talents on-stage, whilst our budding artists will present their work in an exhibition held prior to the show.

Other events that Artist Toolbox do include gallery visits and having guest artists coming it to teach us.

35 Below Dance | MAD Creative Academies

Freshly named for 2019, the MAD Academy comprises our most creative students. 35 Below is the name of our Dance Crew, this year they are busy choreographing routines for our entry into Showquest, and later in the year hope to compete in dance competitions around the North Island. Students in this academy are also able to earn NCEA credits for dance as part of a group routine.

One of the big focus areas in 2019 for 35 Below is getting themselves organised to attend Showquest at the end of Term 2.

Music | MAD Creative Academies

Music Academy is part of the newly named MAD (Music, Art, Dance) Creative Academies. Music, of course, caters for all students whose passion is music. Mrs Andrea Dingle and Mr Dan Marks co-ordinate and teach this course. Students are of given the opportunity for solo and group performance skills, music theory lessons and composition as well as trips and a camp later in the year.

Many senior students in the academy also use the time to further develop their skills for NCEA and study towards music exams. Junior students enjoy a chance to perform and share a musical interest with other year groups.

Students are given opportunities to go to shows (Les Miserables and Rockquest), bi-annually MAD runs the Creative Showcase held at Everybodys Theatre, there are also performance opportunities in the community as well as busking and fundraisers.


The aim of the Makers Academy is to learn from a range of trades and put it together in a major project. Students take part in construction projects that offer authentic real world learning opportunities. Students will need to engage in a variety of Trades to complete their big project. The last two projects included the Fale outside of the Science block and the glass house in the school garden. Currently Makers students have been rebuilding the rugby pavilion.


Sustainability Academy is truly trail blazing, as students develop their environmental practice through projects like: Chook Motel, boomerang bags, herb garden, fruit forest, kai for the soul, Rotokare volunteers and the Opunake Cycle Loop development. Also Mr Steve Pivac has been helping us with setting up a solar hot water outdoor shower and a solar panel to power a caravan.

Through the work of the Sustainabilty Academy, Opunake High has been recognised nationally as a Silver EnviroSchool, subsequent work by our students has led us to plan and organise a trip to Fiji this year for our second overseas Education for Sustainability trip. Air New Zealand offered for this academy to come on-board their Airpoints for Schools programme, offered to only a few select schools, so our students have been busy raising funds for this – rallying the community to get involved.

Lastly, our students model Hauora for oneself, and role-model being a kaitiaki for the planet. These are the cornerstone values of this cutting edge Academy.


This is an opportunity for senior students to focus on their NCEA internal assessments to provide them with a more focused time to improve their grades with NCEA assessments. The academy also offers students time to study and prepare for exams. Those students who are finding that they are falling behind with their studies can opt into the NCEA academy to ensure they catch up with their studies and successfully complete their NCEA assessments. Experts across all curriculum areas are available to meet the needs of the diverse range of students who select the NCEA.


The aim of the Culture Academy is to learn about the cultural diversity in New Zealand, students do this by investigating their own and others cultures in this diverse course.

This is an opportunity to be immersed in different cultures, learn a language and speak to a range of people.

Trips to events such as Polyfest are an important part of this course. Students also get the opportunity to have marae noho, go fishing and learn how to make things with Harakeke (Flax).


Hospitality Academy at Opunake High School is a rich programme of skills development and practical food preparation activities. Student’s creativity is encouraged with a number of food challenges built into the programme, designed to create increasing complexity and knowledge as the year progresses. It can be an exhausting day for the students, being on their feet all day but the sense of achievement and success that comes from creating something unique outweighs the sore feet.

As part of our “Hospitality” and Manakitaanga, the students in this academy prepare food for a number of outside agencies as gifts. We invite groups to come and discuss the areas of need for food assistance in our community and then the students will prepare foods for the agencies to distribute to those who would benefit from the programme.

Hospitality Academy is always popular with students opting to return for more than one year at a time. It is a wonderful opportunity for students to work co-operatively, to understand areas of need in our community, to have fun, develop creative thinking capacity and to eat delicious food.

Moto X

At Opunake High we offer Motocross as an academy choice for both boys and girls who like riding modern dirt bikes on the best tracks in Taranaki, and want to do it during school time. We compete in School race meetings across the central North Island and beyond.

All the team members have developed their confidence and strength as riders and practice skills to become more competitive. Expert coaching has been given by some of NZ’s top senior riders. Moto-X is a fun, noisey and exciting sport that tests fitness and bravery in a challenging, dirty environment. New riders are always welcome


The Surfing Acacdemy has had a band of hardy students who are in the sport for the long haul. Each year, students are chasing waves through-out Taranaki, often at Weld Road but wherever we can catch a break.

The surfers in the academy have worked on skill and style with their efforts captured on video for coaching purposes. In February, we sent a small team to the TSSSA champs in New Plymouth as well as running our own champs at Opunake Beach.

One of the highlights of Academy is the positive steps the younger surfers are making in their surfing. Over the last few years, Surfing Academy has fundraised for overseas trips, heading to Australia in 2017, next stop – we’re looking at Tahiti, bring it on!

Other Academies

Some of the other Academies on offer include – STEM, Study, Work Ready and Work Experience, School Ball Committee, Outdoor Education, Sport, Enterprise.