Nearly three years after the Government announced it was funding a new primary school for Milldale, construction has started at the site on the corner of Argent Lane and Maryvale Road.
The occasion was marked on March 7 with a huri-whenua, or sod-turning, ceremony and blessing of the land by Ngati Manuhiri kaumatua and cultural and heritage advisor, Carmen Hetaraka. Founding principal Wendy Sandifer and school establishment Board of Trustees (BOT) members were joined by representatives from the Ministry of Education, Form NZ Building & Developments, ASC Architects, other local schools and the Milldale development team.
The $20 million school will cater for up to 415 students initially, although in future stages that number could grow to 1000. Enrolments are set to open in Term 3 and the school itself in February next year. However, the new buildings will not be finished until the following September or October, so temporary classrooms will be installed at the site for use before then so the school can open as planned.
Sandifer says it is really exciting to be starting the build, as she and two deputy principals begin the work of establishing a new school from scratch.
“Our focus for this year is to design all the learning programmes and all the policies and procedures that make up a school,” she says. “It will be a child-focused, flexible learning environment that will foster the growth of inquiring learners, so they can help design and manage their own learning to achieve their goals.”
The new school will include 18 teaching spaces in a two-storey classroom block; two teaching spaces for an integrated satellite unit for Wairau Valley Special School; a student support centre for the Northern Health School; a large multipurpose space to be used as a hall, gym or theatre; a library; an administration and reception area; and sports and playing fields.
Sandifer says the BOT and contractors will work with the local community to keep noise and disruption to a minimum while the new school is being built over the next 18 months.