Tertiary education opportunities are about to get a whole lot better in Taupō, with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology planning to move around the corner on to a bigger site.
Plans are afoot for the institute's entire Taupō campus to be rebuilt along Heuheu St, using half of the block of land between the upper end of Horomatangi St and Heuheu St.
The land is used at present by both Toi Ohomai and Taupō Primary School. The current Toi Ohomai campus is at the Kaimanawa St end, with the remainder known as Taupō Community Park.
The entire block was previously owned by the Ministry of Education but half of it, the strip running along and parallel to Heuheu St, has been sold to Toi Ohomai.
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Taupō Primary School occupies, and will continue to occupy, the other part of the land, which is the frontage along Horomatangi St as far as the existing toilet block. The arrangement is that the primary school uses the land as its school field, and when it is not being used by the school, it is a community park which is maintained by Taupō District Council.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology director of corporate service Anthony Robertson said Toi Ohomai has always been committed to replacing its current campus of prefabricated relocatable buildings with a purpose-built campus.
Part of Taupō Community Park was purchased in March this year and a steering committee was formed with stakeholders Enterprise Great Lake Taupō, Taupō District Council, local iwi, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, University of Waikato, Chamber of Commerce, REAP, and local schools.
"We have recently appointed project managers and architects. We're in the process of scoping and planning with these consultants and we will commence focus groups on what and how we should be delivering tertiary education in Taupō. From that, the scope, nature and design of the build will be developed," said Robertson.
Phase one of the project is to develop a new main campus on the Taupō Community Park site, and this involves moving the current buildings in Kaimanawa St.
Phase two will focus on moving Toi Ohomai's trades activities from their current location in Runanga St on to the new main campus on Heuheu St.
"Approximate timelines for phase 1 are the design process in 2020, construction in 2021, opening 2022."
Robertson says they are putting the learners first and Toi Ohomai's aspirations for the new Taupō tertiary campus include programmes from other tertiary providers.
"The campus may potentially include delivery from any of our tertiary partners and may also include other associated services. We would welcome inquiries from organisations that would like to co-locate in our new campus.
"We believe that a new campus would contribute towards retaining and upskilling the learners and workforce of, and in, Taupō."
The aim is to create a modern and flexible learning environment, and attracting partners will allow for a full complement of student services.
"We also want to be able to consolidate automotive and construction programmes back on to the main campus and exit the current leased site."
Taupō Primary School board of trustees chair Catriona Eagles says the school's half of the land will remain as a school field and a community park and the future of the infrastructure on the park, which includes play areas, a bike track and a basketball court, was still to be determined. She expected there would be discussions when the time was right.
"The [land] ownership's changed, but nothing's changing for now and any changes will happen in conjunction with the school, Toi Ohomai and the Taupō District Council," she said.
Eagles said the school was also waiting to see whether there would be any changes to Titiraupenga St traffic flows as a result of a new transport strategy the council is working on.
Taupō District mayor David Trewavas said achieving a new purpose-built modern campus was a good joint effort, with the various parties working together.
"There are exciting times ahead for tertiary education in the Taupō district."