Deal struck over leaky school buildings

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 17:31 23/12/2013

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The Government has reached a confidential settlement with building materials manufacturer James Hardie over hundreds of leaky school buildings.

It follows a claim lodged in the High Court in April against several manufacturers of faulty exterior cladding used in more than 800 buildings in more than 300 schools.

The repair bill has been put at around $1.5 billion.

Two of those manufactures were subsidiaries of Australia's James Hardie industries.

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the claims against those subsidiaries would be dropped with the settlement to go towards fixing the building issues and future developments in New Zealand schools.

"This agreement strengthens the Government's ability to significantly address weather-tightness issues in our schools and support future investments in school property - without the need for lengthy court action. It will also support the on-going manufacture of building supplies in New Zealand, which directly supports industry and jobs," she said.

The Government would continue to pursue claims against additional parties including Carter Holt Harvey and CSR Building Products (NZ) Limited who also supplied materials, however.

"Legal action will continue to be taken to protect the Government's significant investment in schools and to ensure that our students and teachers have the best possible learning environments for our learners and teachers," Kaye said.

Kaye said the Ministry of Education's property portfolio  had a replacement value of $21.9 billion that includes more than 2000 Crown-owned schools and over 29,000 buildings.

About $500 million was invested each year to maintain and develop existing school properties.

The ministry is also taking legal action against architects and builders in relation to the leaky buildings.

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