School's leaky horror ends happily

By Genevieve Helliwell

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A Papamoa primary school once dubbed New Zealand's leakiest school has come to the end of a six-year nightmare with the opening of a $5.5million learning centre.

Tahatai Coast School celebrated a new start yesterday at the official opening of the school's 18-classroom building, in front of dignitaries including Bay of Plenty MP Tony Ryall, invited guests, staff and students.

Principal Ian Leckie, who has returned to the school after a two-year absence as president of the union NZEI, said it had been a "turbulent and traumatic" six years, when the school first found out it had a leaky-building problem.

"It was in 2006 when the school wasn't very old but it was due for a repaint and we had a close look at what we were painting over and we found we had a major moisture ingress, commonly known as leaky buildings."

Only a handful of the less-leaky classrooms, hall and tower complex were able to be repaired while the rest of the school was demolished and rebuilt.

In his speech, Mr Ryall said he was "delighted" to open the building marking the final stage of the "long-awaited" event.

"This building ... which you have described as the heart of the school cost about $5.5million and it has been an excellent example of how a school and the Ministry of Education can work together.

"It really is is an amazing set of buildings," he said.

The new classroom building, measuring more than 60m long and 20m wide, had two levels and featured 18 classrooms.

In front of the building was a play area, sandpit and astroturf court.

The classrooms were designed as individual rooms but when doors were opened could become an open learning space.

At the opening, Mr Leckie paid tribute to the construction group Naylor Love, architect Frank Cleary of Babbage Consultants, the Ministry of Education, the school's board of trustees, school staff and students.

The celebration ended with a performance from the school's kapa haka group, followed by a morning tea.

The building was blessed on January 9 by Charles Rahiri, from the Ratana Church.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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