A new primary school will be built in Waikanae, National Party deputy leader and education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye has pledged.

But Education Minister Chris Hipkins said planning is already underway for a new school in the area.

And Terisa Ngobi, Labour's candidate for Ōtaki, said National was trying to take credit for something that was already underway.

Kaye revealed the party's plans when she visited Waikanae Beach with the party's Ōtaki candidate Tim Costley on Wednesday.

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Waikanae School principal Bevan Campbell and Kapakapanui School principal Craig Vidulich were present to hear her announcement first hand.

Kaye said a National government would "build a new primary school in Waikanae and deliver this by 2025".

However Hipkins said, "The government is already on track to build a new school at Waikanae Beach in five years time".

Education Infrastructure Service head Kim Shannon said the National Education Growth Plan forecast a need for a new primary school in the Waikanae area within the next five years.

"When appropriate, and as demand dictates, we will seek funding for a new school through the Budget process.

"At this stage, no construction plans are in place.

"Should we proceed with establishment of a new school we will work closely with Kapakapanui School, Waikanae School and the wider community.

"In 2010 we purchased 3.2 hectares of land at 47 Pohe St, Waikanae North at a cost of $3m.

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"Since then, population growth and demand has changed and this site is no longer considered the most suitable location to meet anticipated schooling demand.

"We are currently evaluating a number of alternative sites but no acquisition has been made at this stage.

"We are unable to provide more detail on these sites so as not to prejudice or disadvantage our ability to carry out commercial negotiations."

Kaye said an area in Waikanae Beach could be a suitable location especially as it would relieve pressure off Kapakapanui School and Waikanae School.

"Kāpiti has experienced huge growth over recent years enhanced by easier transport links with Wellington including the Kāpiti expressway which was part of National's Roads of National Significance.

"This growth has put Kāpiti schools and enrolment zones under pressure.

"Building a new primary school will help ease this pressure on local schools, help reduce classroom sizes and make sure more children can walk or bike to their local school.

Nikki Kaye and Tim Costley at Waikanae Beach. Photo / David Haxton
Nikki Kaye and Tim Costley at Waikanae Beach. Photo / David Haxton

"A school was planned around a decade ago, but this has not happened due to land not being purchased in the right place.

"Primary schools across the district are averaging growth of around 60 pupils per school over the past five years.

"That means we need more than two new classrooms per school.

"One school grew by more than 110 students between 2015 and 2019.

Costley said, "Covid-19 and the sustained lockdown has hit every region hard, but Kāpiti's growth will continue particularly as Transmission Gully and the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressways are completed.

"Demand for housing is still high with new subdivisions selling quickly and many young families moving into the district for the quality of life it offers.

"Currently all residents living west of the Kāpiti Expressway need to travel through Waikanae and over the railway line to get to Waikanae School because Kapakapanui School is at maximum capacity.

"Growth in areas like Peka Peka further adds to this pressure.

"Children should be able to walk or bike to their local school and not spend half an hour in the car each day to get to and from school, driving past other schools on the way.

"Kāpiti needs this investment.

"We need to make sure our children are receiving the best possible education to set them up for their future and that means quality learning and more time with their teachers.

"Building a new primary school in Waikanae will help with this."

Ngobi said National's promise was "dated and redundant".

"As Chris Hipkins said, the government is already on track to build a new school in Waikanae Beach in five years time.

"National is merely announcing something this government is already doing and trying to take credit for it.

"But I am glad the National candidate supports the government's intention to have a new school in Waikanae.

"National promised the same thing in 2010, it didn't happen, this government is getting on with the job.

"The government has a National Education Growth Plan.

"It's publicly available on the Ministry of Education website.

"The northern Kāpiti section of the plan projects population growth in and around Waikanae to 2030 and beyond and makes it clear why a new school will be needed in the near future.

"There are rigorous criteria when it comes to identifying the need for new schools.

"It's about statistics, not electioneering.

"I am pleased to support a government that has released a plan for growth and the funding behind it so communities can finally get the schools they need."

Campbell said, "A firm commitment to build a third primary school in Waikanae is great news for all especially for those families living at Waikanae Beach where we hope the school to be built."

Vidulich said, "Waikanae has continued to be a growth area for a number of years and a new school is pressing.

"It is likely that both Waikanae and Kapakapanui Schools will continue to have steady roll growth in the coming years and if nothing is done within the next year or so both schools will be under serious roll pressure.

"I am pleased to hear that if National is the next government a new school will be built."