Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Rebuild bill for Auckland school tops $50m

Western Springs College subsidence and leak issues to be addressed after election

Parent Nikki Mandow at Western Springs College. Photo / Dean Purcell
Parent Nikki Mandow at Western Springs College. Photo / Dean Purcell

A central Auckland school is to be transformed in a building project that could cost at least $50 million.

Rebuilding of Western Springs College has long been planned but a decision on the details will not take place until after the election.

The 1300-pupil school was built on a former landfill across the road from the Auckland Zoo entrance in 1963, and has been plagued by subsidence ever since. Erosion problems have been made worse by leaky building issues.

Nikki Mandow, secretary of the school's Parent Action Group, said a near-total rebuilding had been discussed since 2011. That meant a bare minimum of maintenance had been carried out.

Cabinet consideration of the budget for any construction will not happen until after the election, most likely in November and December.

Ms Mandow said the ministry had gone quiet on what options it would present. She has asked parents to lobby local politicians to ensure the pressure remains for a proper rebuilding.

Western Springs College is a co-ed state school which draws students from Auckland City, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Freemans Bay, Pt Chevalier and Westmere.

Last night Associate Education Minister and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said the ministry was gathering further geotechnical and structural information and a business case would be developed in consultation with the community. Ms Kaye, who planned to meet the parent action group, said advice was the cost could be at least $50 million.

Principal Ken Havill said he could understand the community's frustration but various issues had meant the project had taken time. It's expected construction would start in July to December 2016, with new facilities ready by January 2017.

Mr Havill said he expected the options eventually presented by the ministry would be versions of a comprehensive rebuilding.

MP for Mt Albert David Shearer, who has a daughter at Western Springs College, said numerous people had contacted him with concerns, and he was due to meet Mr Havill today.

Read a 2012 report on the school's problem here


The sinking school
• Western Springs College is plagued by subsidence problems.
• A near-total rebuilding has been signalled since 2011, but plans will not be signed off until after the election.
• Parent group is lobbying politicians to keep up pressure for a comprehensive rebuilding.
• Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says project is a priority and revealed it could cost at least $50 million.

- NZ Herald

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