Centre for Ethics
senior centre for ethics

Our Centre for Ethics, a New Zealand first, is a key point of difference to the learning we offer at Dio.

Our girls make important decisions every day, so by providing them with core values and principles for life, they can go on to develop successful relationships and strong foundations for decision-making that will inspire the respect of others around them.

Our Centre for Ethics was launched by patron and Old Girl, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, in 2012, to give young women the opportunity to explore the values, issues and beliefs that underpin decision-making. Our Ethics Programme provides a space to explore cultural and social influences, the concepts of fairness, justice and legality and perceptions of right and wrong. Each year we hold our Soapbox competition which gives students the opportunity to present their own views on an ethical topic. Throughout their time at Dio, all of our girls will explore critical thinking and debating.

senior high school centre for ethics guest speakers
Guest Speakers

We regularly invite guest speakers from ethics-related fields, such as academics, scientists and journalists to inspire thought in our girls. These events help shape students’ perceptions of the world and others around them. Guest speakers are often invited to facilitate discussions and debates about ethical issues at parent and community evenings.

A range of speakers have presented to the School – for example: Lisa King (Eat My Lunch founder; Lesley Elliot (Loves Me Not programme); Julie Watson – Human Rights Commission and Mani Bruce Mitchell on intersexion; Jimi Hunt from the  Live More Awesome trust; Dr Thomas Lumley – statistician; Mele Siakumi Kautoke, statistician; Qiuling Easterbrook Wong – documentary film maker; Anthony Healey – APRA; Dr Malpass and Dr Stephen Garner – on euthanasia;

Pictured: Director of Ethics, Nina Blumenfeld.

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Soapbox Competition

Each year we run a soapbox competition for students to express their views on an ethical issue they feel passionate about, and encourage them to listen to the ideas of others.

Examples of topics might include:
– Is it ever right to avoid being vaccinated?
– Should parents be allowed to read your Facebook page?
– Is it ever right to use physical violence against bullies?
– Should bigots and racists be allowed to speak freely?
– Should governments be able to lockdown society?

Students are urged to be respectful in their approach and sensitive to other people and responsible in their use of language. The competition begins with Junior High students. They stand on a literal soapbox during lunchtime for the heats. Then Senior High School students follow. After semis, three Junior High and three Senior High students are chosen to speak on stage at a final event.

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Eat my lunch

The Ethics Council help celebrate Dio’s birthday on 14 June by holding a school-wide event together with social enterprise company Eat My Lunch.

This company delivers a healthy lunch to a child in need for every lunch purchased. The Centre for Ethics values giving back to the community and see this as an opportunity to fulfil Ut Serviamus and the Year 13 motto Ko Tatou.

We know that there are too many children in Aotearoa who live in poverty and struggle with necessities. We want to support such a worthy cause as one in four children in New Zealand live in poverty, and many of these go without lunch on a daily basis. This is a fantastic way for Kiwis to help other less fortunate Kiwis!

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Ethics Dinner/Extravaganza

We host an annual dinner to open up discussion on fundamental ethical issues confronting human society. These events are an opportunity for the School Community to participate in an evening of debate about a broad range of ethical issues. Over dinner outstanding and knowledgeable speakers present their views on topical issues. For example:

  • In 2014, on the centenary of the First World War, the topic was, Can war be just?
  • In 2015, the Forgotten Refugees, the year of the Refugee Crisis
  • In 2016, the Ethics of Sport – to coincide with the Olympic Games
  • In 2017, RAW – Reclaim another woman – featuring Anna Stretton and her work with women who have been in prison
  • In 2018, Bioethics
  • In 2019, Stir the Pot – a focus on the two sides in the issue of legalizing marijuana and euthanasia

These evenings are engaging and give students, teachers, parents and connected community members much to contemplate.

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Loves me not programme

This programme is run by the Centre for Ethics for Year 12 students, who participate in a full day workshop on healthy and equal relationships. The programme is facilitatied by police officers, together with Year 12 tutor teachers who are trained by the School Community Services within the New Zealand Police. Its primary aim is to help young people keep safe in relationships and will involve students learning how to identify relationship problems, how to deal with them and where to seek help.

The Loves-me-not programme was developed by the New Zealand Police in partnership with the Sophie Elliott Foundation and the Ministry of Social Development, after the deeply disturbing murder of Sophie Elliott by her former boyfriend and university tutor, Clayton Weatherstone, which shocked all New Zealanders. At the trial, it emerged that Sophie’s murderer was abusive in the relationship, but warning signs were not acted upon by Sophie, her family, friends or colleagues. Lesley Elliott, Sophie’s mother, feels very strongly that education of young men and women is the key to raising their awareness to the signs of partner abuse.

Ethics Olympiad square
Ethics Olympiad

The Centre for Ethics organises training for the Ethics Olympiad competition in the Junior School, Junior High and Senior High Schools. This is a relatively new student activity in New Zealand but it is one that we have adopted with great eagerness, as it provides a wonderful opportunity for students to analyse and discuss real-life, timely ethical issues in a competitive yet collaborative manner. It differs from debating in that students do not necessarily oppose the other teams’ views but defend their position by showing they have thought more carefully, deeply and perceptively about the 8 cases with which they are presented.

This event encourages and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking skills, an appreciation of diverse points of view and engaging with other students here and overseas in a civil way.

In July 2021, our senior team reached the finals of the World Ethics Olympiad via Zoom, after coming first among North Island schools in the New Zealand Olympiad.  The competition involved identifying the ethical issues behind topics as varied as the K Pop industry, dating after prison and hate speech in online gaming platforms. Out of 38 teams taking part, our Year 11 Diocesan team came fifth, which is an incredible achievement given our students were up against Year 13 students from countries as far flung as Hong Kong, Canada and Australia.

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