New schools for Hamilton

FIRST STEP: Prime Minister John Key turns the first sod of the new Endeavour Avenue Primary School in Flagstaff.
FIRST STEP: Prime Minister John Key turns the first sod of the new Endeavour Avenue Primary School in Flagstaff.

A new junior high school will open in Hamilton in 2016 and the second stage of the development, a senior high, will be constructed and ready for students in 2017.

Plans for the new secondary school, which will be the city's first in 30 years, were released by Minister of Education Hekia Parata yesterday. It will be built on an 11-hectare plot in Rototuna North.

A single establishment board of trustees will govern both schools.

And Prime Minister John Key was in town to mark the start of construction for Flagstaff's long-awaited primary school.

The new schools reflect population growth in the north-east of Hamilton, which the Ministry of Education said was expected to continue.

Meanwhile, Mr Key dug the first spadeful of earth to mark the start of work on Hamilton's newest primary school in the city's north east. The ground-breaking ceremony for Flagstaff's $16.7 million Endeavour Avenue Primary School attracted a crowd of dozens, including youngsters likely to study at the school.

Mr Key was handed the spade after a welcome and site blessing from kaumatua from Ngati Wairere of Tauhei and Hukanui.

"It's great to be here at the first step for the Endeavour School," he said.

"Youngsters are going to enjoy what will be a fabulous school here in Hamilton."

The construction of new schools reflected the strength and growth in the city, he said.

Earthworks were set to begin at the school, which is due to open in January 2015. Construction of stage one will provide for 400 pupils and has a budget of $16.7m, but the next stage will allow space for another 200.

Foundation principal Marcus Freke said leading the new school was a once-in-a-career opportunity.

"We're going to have to have a point of difference here with so many successful schools around us."

But plans to kickstart the Rototuna Town Centre and deliver key public facilities to the fast-growing area are still uncertain.

The city council has secured 17 hectares of land for community facilities around the town centre, including a library, community and aquatic centre and sports field.

Hamilton deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman said yesterday's announcement put pressure on council to move planning forward for the facilities.

"There is a huge need out there in the northeast.

"The principle is, we need those facilities out there to link with the schools," he said.

But Mayor Julie Hardaker said there was "nothing more to say" about the developments until the council sat down for long-term plan discussions later this year.

However, she said there had been discussions between council staff and the ministry on the topic of shared facilities.

"At the council we are always very keen to partner with Government or the private sector to deliver good things for the city."

Many at the ceremony were potential students and families and supportive local community members.

Dulcie Hooper lives across the road and was keen to celebrate a school being built in Flagstaff.

"Whether my children come to this school or not, it's a celebration that there's a school in Flagstaff," she said.

"There's no school where our children can walk to."

Local resident Maryanne Lowery homeschools her daughter but brought her and the family to support the community and experience the ceremony.

"We're from the States . . . We would never get to see the president of the US. He would never come to our neighbourhood."

Hamilton East MP David Bennett said getting the go-ahead for the two schools was a relief for the community.

Waikato Times