A new primary school is to be built in Pāpāmoa East and will accommodate 650 pupils.

Principals in the area say the new school will help ease increasing pressure on school rolls.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has approved the establishment of a new Years 1 to 6 primary school in Pāpāmoa East to initially be known as Te Okuroa Drive School.

Figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act show $21 million was allocated for the new primary school at 72 Te Okuroa Dr.

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"We are currently in the early planning stages of the state school which we expect will accommodate 650 students," Ministry of Education spokeswoman Katrina Casey said.

The Establishment Board of Trustees, which is in charge of developing a vision and policies for the school, setting up budgets and appointing a principal and staff, had not yet been appointed.

The school is expected to open in 2021.

Western Bay of Plenty Principals' Association president Matt Skilton said schools in Pāpāmoa were experiencing significant roll growth.

The Tahatai Coast School principal said even if the Ministry rezoned some of the schools, it would not be enough to appease rapid roll growth.

"It is not slowing down, particularly for Golden Sands School in Pāpāmoa East, which is expanding at a significant rate."

Papamoa Primary School principal Phil Friar said roll growth in Pāpāmoa East was putting primary schools under pressure and another school was needed in the area.

"Our roll has got to the stage where we are significantly under pressure," he said. "It has steadily built as the population increases."

He expected the school's roll to drop when Te Okuroa Drive School opened.

Hipkins also announced $9m would be given to build more classrooms at six schools nationwide, including 66 extra spaces at Golden Sands School in Pāpāmoa East.

The Bay of Plenty Times' attempts to contact Golden Sands principal Melanie Taylor were unsuccessful.

Casey said the Ministry managed school infrastructure by planning for growth and population shifts both in the short and long-term.

"To do this, we consider a range of information including population projections, local council information, enrolment data and how well school properties are utilised," she said.

Tauranga and the Western Bay were two of six high growth areas nationwide, she said.

Taumata School principal Gen Fuller with pupils Harrison Siebert, 5, and Aliah Masters, 5. Photo / Andrew Warner
Taumata School principal Gen Fuller with pupils Harrison Siebert, 5, and Aliah Masters, 5. Photo / Andrew Warner

Taumata School

The roll has continued to grow at Tauranga's newest primary school in Pyes Pa, which will have its official opening next month.

Figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act show $18m was allocated in 2017 for the new Taumata School at Mortlake Heights Dr.

Principal Gen Fuller said the school's roll had grown to 168 pupils since the first day of Term 1, when 150 pupils were welcomed on site - a further 12 pupils will start school next term.

"We are having people on a daily basis walking in to find out what we are about. We know we will be at our provisional roll," she said.

The primary school was catering for Years 1 to 6 pupils in the school zone this year, with Year 7s to be welcomed in 2020 and Year 8s in 2021.

More classrooms space had opened up throughout the first term, and the school was currently recruiting for more teachers.

"That just shows the growth we are experiencing," Fuller said.

National Party leader Simon Bridges and spokesperson for education Nikki Kaye have been invited to the official opening on May 1.

School enrolments as at July 1, 2018:
Tauranga: 25,624
Bay of Plenty: 54,903
Source: Ministry of Education