A Tauranga school has been dealt a "huge blow" after a Ministry of Education blunder means a long-promised rebuild will now not happen.

Te Kura o Matapihi has been operating 41 per cent over capacity, with some of the school's 146 students being taught in the library and a small technology space.

Principal Tui Yeager said the school had been promised a complete redesign and rebuild two-and-a-half years ago, so they had been making do with the space they had.

Mrs Yeager told the Bay of Plenty Times it was a "huge struggle" to find teaching spaces for the students.


"We've got students working in the library and our little ICT room. Also because we really don't have enough space for teachers to work during their classroom breaks, they're having to use the staffroom," she said.

But Mrs Yeager said it was "huge blow" to be told by a senior Education Ministry offical days before this year's Government budget was announced there had been "a mistake" and the rebuild was not going to happen.

The Ministry wanted the kura to introduce an enrolment scheme or cap its roll but parents did not have many other options nearby for Maori-immersion education, she said.

Rob Giller, acting head of the Education Infrastructure Service, said he recently became aware Te Kura o Matapihi had been led to believe their kura would be rebuilt.

"Unfortunately, the correct Ministry processes had not been followed, and no approval had been given for a rebuild. The board members were understandably upset," he said.

"We have assured the kura that we will work with them to put in place a comprehensive property plan within the next three months that addresses their current and future roll growth needs ... We will make use of the design and planning work already done. "

Mr Giller said as well as apologising to the kura, the ministry would be carrying out an internal investigation to find out how this "unfortunate" situation arose.

"We will take whatever steps we can to strengthen our processes to ensure this doesn't happen again," he said.

According to the Government's Education Network Annual Assessment report, 11 Western Bay of Plenty schools were operating over capacity last year, including Matapihi.

Aquinas College principal Ray Scott said there was no capacity to take more pupils with extra funding, with just over 780 students - 30 more than the capped roll.


Mr Scott said a steering group was looking at how the school could manage to grow its roll to 950.

Anne Mackintosh, principal of Greerton Village School, said the school was "bursting at the seams" last year but with three new classrooms and an enrolment scheme things were "far more manageable".

At Bellevue Primary, principal Dave Bell said new classrooms and an enrolment scheme had helped to slow down roll growth.

Otumoetai School's roll was currently at 572 and principal Geoff Opie said this was 34 pupils more than last year.

"Based on projections, we expect to add another 50-60 junior school kids this year, which will definitely challenge our capacity both this year and next," he said.

Mount Maunganui Intermediate acting principal Beryl Harvey said with new buildings and an enrolment zone scheme, the school was "doing okay".

An in-zone enrolment was introduced this year at Te Puke Primary, but principal Wayne Arthur said it was too early to say how that would impact roll growth.

Education Ministry's deputy secretary Katrina Casey said in a statement: "We are progressing recommendations for roll growth funding for all Bay of Plenty schools that are experiencing roll growth from within their own catchments, to the extent that new teaching spaces are needed."

Ms Casey said a new Year 1-8 primary school would open in January on Kennedy Rd and the Ministry had also secured a site for a primary school in Te Okuroa Dr, Papamoa East.

Some schools in the region had been provided with temporary teaching spaces while the principals awaited new buildings, she said.

"We work hard to ensure there is enough space to accommodate every child in every region."

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said National failed to adequately plan for population growth, with children's education suffering as a result.

He said Labour would speed up the school building process and get ahead of demand.

The Government announced that $1.5 billion had been allocated for schools and early education in the 2017 budget.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the $1.5b would fund six new schools, the expansion of two schools, 11 special education satellite units and 305 new classrooms nationwide.

Western Bay schools operating at or over capacity in 2016

Aquinas College (100 per cent)
Bellevue School (117 per cent)
Greerton Village (109 per cent)
Mount Maunganui Intermediate (102 per cent)
Oropi School (127 per cent)
Otumoetai School (107 per cent)
Te Puke Primary (113 per cent)
Te Kura O Matapihi (141 per cent)
TKKM o Te Kura Kokiri (130 per cent)
Te Ranga School (120 per cent)
Te Wharekura O Mauao (131 per cent)
Source: Education Ministry report