PR: $79m Western Springs College investment largest ever for NZ school Hon Nikki Kaye

Monday, November 16, 2015

The largest-ever school investment in New Zealand has been announced today, with the Government set to invest around $75 million redeveloping Auckland’s Western Springs College, and around $4 million upgrading TAPAC, the Auckland Performing Arts Centre situated on the school grounds, says Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This rebuild of the current school will see at least 80 per cent of the existing teaching spaces replaced entirely. The other teaching spaces will be upgraded.

“In addition, a new gymnasium will be built, and the existing hall and administration block will be upgraded.

“This is great news for the college and local communities. Western Springs is one of our highest-performing schools and it’s in a strategic location, servicing the Western Bays and surrounding areas.

“The school has faced considerable challenges due to the geotechnical challenges of the site it was built on, which is a former quarry and landfill. That combined with ageing buildings and weather-tightness issues has made this one of the most complex school redevelopments undertaken in New Zealand.

“This is reflected in the investment announced today, which is the equivalent of the cost of building two new secondary schools.

“I want to thank the Board and acknowledge the patience of the school and local communities as we worked towards a solution that will see the school provide modern facilities for generations to come.

“It’s taken a bit longer to get to this point, but the scale and complexity of the issues involved meant we needed to do things properly.  It was important we achieved a solution that works for the community and ensures good health and safety.

“The redevelopment will see two brand new teaching blocks built, comprising 64 teaching spaces.

“As part of the package agreed by the Government, one of these blocks, containing 12 teaching spaces, will be for Nga Puna o Waiorea, the college’s Maori immersion-Rumaki unit.

“It’s great that this important cultural asset, including its wharenui, will continue to retain its unique identity within the school.

“The rebuild will see innovative and sustainable learning environments across the school.

“The two new blocks will take the total number of teaching spaces at the college to 81, including the 17 existing teaching spaces that will be upgraded. Depending on the final design, more of these upgraded teaching spaces may be replaced.

“This represents a significant increase in capacity from the current total of 60 teaching spaces. Providing roughly 25 per cent extra capacity will allow for roll growth from over 1300 to around 1700 students, consistent with the Government’s commitment to get ahead of demand in high-growth areas of Auckland.

“The Government recognises the importance of TAPAC as a performing arts centre and community asset. This is why around $4 million will be invested to address weather-tightness issues and ensure this facility can continue to support arts and culture at the school and within the community.

“With the decision on broad plans for the rebuild approved, the Board, school, community and Ministry of Education can now work together to finalise the school design.

“Today’s announcement means the Government has announced investments of around $150 million in four school redevelopments over the last two and a half weeks. This includes around $24 million at Balmoral School and $26 million at Takapuna Grammar School, in Auckland, and $24 million at Aotea College in Porirua.

“These projects are further steps in the Government’s commitment to invest in improved school facilities across New Zealand.

“Over the last seven years, we’ve invested more than $4 billion in school property maintenance, growth and modernisation. This is more than a 30 per cent increase on the previous seven years.

“Work at Western Springs is expected to start in late 2016 and be completed by the end of 2018.

“Due to the complexity of site issues and the scale of the project, the Ministry has advised me that health and safety specialists and additional project support will be used to complete the rebuild.”