New Zealand's first school built under a public-private partnership opened its doors to students today.

Auckland's Hobsonville Point Primary School is the first school to be designed, built, financed, and maintained under a public-private partnership (PPP).

Education Minister Hekia Parata said PPPS should help relieve schools and boards of the burden of managing property and allow them to focus more on teaching and learning.

"PPPs also mean the property must be maintained to a high standard, effectively giving the Crown a 25-year guarantee against problems such as leaky buildings," she said today.


Ms Parata said Hobsonville Point Primary School was built to cater for the growing population in the area.

"While the roll is small now it is expected to grow quickly with up to 3000 new homes planned as part of the Hobsonville Point housing development.

The Ministry of Education will own the buildings but have no responsibility for their design, construction, finance or maintenance.

That responsibility belongs to Learning Infrastructure Partners (LIP), a consortium headed by Steven Proctor, who is from the UK and has been involved with PPPs in his homeland, Australia and South Africa.

Last year, Mr Proctor would not say exactly how much the consortium would make but said it could be about $100 million over the course of the contract.

Both the NZEI and PPTA teachers' unions have criticised the PPP model, saying schools should belong to their community not a private company, and that a private company could hide from public and parliamentary scrutiny.

Labour's acting education spokesman Chris Hipkins said the Government's "experiment" with PPPs would end up costing taxpayers $1.5 million more than it claimed it would save.

"The Government claims it will save $2 million over the 25-year life of the contract by using the private sector. But to achieve these supposed savings, it spent $3.5 million developing the business case.

"Maybe maths isn't Hekia Parata's strongest subject, but most of the new entrants at Hobsonville Point would be able to tell her that 3.5 is bigger than 2. Her so called savings are actually costing taxpayers $1.5 million," Mr Hipkins said.

"And it gets worse. The Government's also forking out $100,000 a year for a 'Relationship Manager' as part of the PPP pilot. Over the course of the 25-year contract that would add up to another $2.5 million."