Ōmokoroa is getting a new primary school and secondary school - but probably not any time soon.
The Government has bought land between 12 Prole Rd and 412 Ōmokoroa Rd, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.
Hipkins said the schools would be built on a "campus-like facility".
Two parcels of land were acquired from private landowners and two from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
The news comes as primary schools in the area are "bursting at the seams" and follows a year-long grassroots petition for a new secondary school to be built in the area.
Whakamarama mother Jo Linthwaite, who started the petition last year, was happy to hear the news.
"It is wonderful and fantastic," she said. "Now we would like to know when will these new schools be built?"
Omokoroa Point School principal Vicki Knell said the Ōmokoroa community had been pushing for new schools for "quite some time".
"They will be really happy that once the campus is up and running, students will no longer have to travel into town," she said.
"It will take the pressure off the surrounding schools who are almost bursting. It confirms the fact we are becoming a little town."
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller of National said a new secondary school in Ōmōkoroa was something the community had been asking for a few years.
Muller gave credit to the Minister but said the question now was when the schools would be built. He hoped it would be as soon as possible.
"Ōmōkoroa is growing and it is growing fast. They need it," he said.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said schools in established areas had been under increasing pressure as the neighbourhood demographics changed to include more families with school-age children.
"It will be several years before the population reaches the point at which we need to begin building, but ensuring there is land in the right place on which to build is critical," he said.
Hipkins said it was expected that future schooling in Ōmōkoroa may include primary and secondary students on campus-style site.
"We will continue to monitor the school-age population so that we stay ahead of the curve while preparing for roll growth."
The Western Bay of Plenty District Council was planning for new development in Ōmōkoroa to accommodate a "quadrupling" of the population to 10,000 by 2043.
Hipkins said the land purchases were part of the Government's comprehensive plan to support growth in the fast-growing Ōtumoetai catchment.
"The National Education Growth Plan, completed earlier this year, pinpoints areas where student populations are rising and are projected to rise," he said.
"The Otumoetai catchment is one of them – it's one of 39 major growth areas highlighted in the plan."
Tauranga-based Labour list MP Jan Tinetti and Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber welcomed the announcement in media statements.
Tinetti said it will be great for the students in the area to have a school closer to home.
"It is wonderful to see the Government not only recognise the significant growth in our region but to drive solutions to achieve the best learning solutions for our children and young people."
Webber said the council was delighted the Ministry of Education had taken concrete steps to recognise the area's population growth.
"It gives us the certainty we need to begin structural planning for the community."