Tawa College earthquake risk

BY ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 10:34 21/08/2012

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Two hundred Tawa students take lessons in buildings that have been declared at risk in an earthquake, leaving principals scrambling to bring the classrooms up to code.

Tawa College's Block A and Tawa School's Block B have failed to meet the Ministry of Education's minimum earthquake standards, according to engineers who visited Porirua schools this winter.

Tawa School's Block B meets 29 per cent of building standards, and half of Tawa College's Block A meets 29 per cent and the other half 31 per cent. The minimum for school buildings is 33 per cent.

Students are allowed to occupy earthquake-risk buildings while strengthening work is being planned, the ministry says.

Tawa School principal Ian Dewar says strengthening work will be done as soon as possible, ideally before Christmas.

The school is waiting for building plans to be drawn up by the ministry before it can proceed to tender the project, he says.

Block B dates from 1941 and comprises two classrooms, which are used by the school's 34 year 7 and 8 students and four teaching staff.

The one-storey building needs strengthening along its length, and internal walls between the classrooms need higher standard wallboard to make them more rigid, Mr Dewar says.

Students using Block B are not in danger, he says.

The cost of the project is unknown until the school receives the ministry's plans, Mr Dewar says.

Money set aside for upgrading the school's blocks C and D will be diverted to the work, he says.

Tawa College principal Murray Lucas says its Block A is used by up to 180 technology students at a time, and also houses a staff study room and the uniform shop.

The one-storey, nine- classroom block dates from 1961 and needs its roof braced to meet the code. The west side of the building also has too many glass windows, Mr Lucas says.

"If something happened all the glass would come out and it wouldn't be flash."

Remedial work will be done in coming months using money from the school's contingency budget.

"We're going to action it immediately. "

Tawa College students should be safe in a medium shake, Mr Lucas says.

Tawa College parent and canteen worker Laurel Baird says her teenagers are well-informed about Block A's problems and she is not concerned for their safety.

"If the ministry knows and the school knows and they're working on it. For me as a parent that's good," she says.

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