Taihape Area School's main building is set to be demolished just 10 years after it was built.

The Huia St school opened in 2009 and issues with sewage, storm water, electricity, gas and heating were discovered almost immediately.

In 2013, The Ministry of Education (MOE) became aware of water leaking from the school's roof and launched investigations to establish the extent of the problems.

The investigations revealed that the damage and design shortcomings were extensive and it was decided that a new facility would provide better value for money than repair.


The ministry's head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said proceedings were issued against several parties involved in the construction in 2014 and settlement was reached.

"Legal action is always a last resort for us," Shannon said.

"However, we do expect construction companies to stand behind their workmanship, and if necessary be held accountable for negligent building practices."

Plans for the new building are still in the early stages and decisions have not yet been made regarding how construction will affect the operation of the school.

The school's main building contains all of its classrooms, the only other building it has is a multi-function centre which was built at the same time and will not be demolished.

"Minimising the impact on the school's day-to-day activities, together with the health and safety of those on site, will be a priority," Shannon said.

"It is uncommon for an entire school to be demolished rather than remediated because of weathertightness, construction, or design issues, but this is considered to offer the best long term solution for the school."

Although uncommon, it was announced in February that South Otago's Clutha Valley Primary School would be demolished due to health and structural concerns.

That building was 11-years-old, cost $4.5m and also had a leaky roof.

The school under construction in 2008. Photo / File
The school under construction in 2008. Photo / File

The cost of the Taihape Area School rebuild is expected to be more than $10m.

Remedial work would have cost approximately $8m and presented greater risk to delivery.

Development of the current main building was led by the Taihape Area School board of trustees in 2007, a process which has now changed within the Ministry.

In 2013, they set up the Education Infrastructure Service Group, which works with schools to deliver complex property projects.

Schools now have the services of a ministry delivery manager who manages the project with access to a range of specialists including architects with education experience.

Construction observers also now visit schools throughout construction to ensure standards are adhered to.

Taihape Area School principal Richard McMillan arrived at the school one year after it opened and noticed its issues immediately.

Despite ongoing communication with the ministry regarding the issues and multiple attempts to fix them, McMillan was shocked when he was informed of his school's future about six weeks ago.

McMillan said school staff and the Board of Trustees had a meeting about it on Wednesday night.

"We've decided we're just going to get on with it, no finger pointing at architects or whatever," he said.

"We have appointed a project steering committee and their job will be to liaise with the Ministry of Education and look at next steps."

The school released what information they know to parents and students via a newsletter, the school app and their Facebook page.

Majority of the questions being asked by those in the school community surrounded what would happen with students while the work was being done and whether they were safe.

A follow-up post from McMillan confirmed that the building had been deemed safe.

He said that people have been good after finding out about the impending demolition.

"Reaction generally has been one of shock, but people have been very supportive and appreciate the trauma that it's causing people at school," McMillan said.

"The whole school's an amazing concept, beautiful design, beautiful building, great place to work, but unfortunately, there were all these hiccups."

There is currently no estimated start date for construction.