Nova Montessori to quit flood-prone site

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 09:02 09/07/2014
Nova Montessori school

WATERLOGGED: Nova Montessori school in New Brighton, Christchurch, is an ‘‘island’’ in the middle of quake and flood-prone land.

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The East

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A private school that is an "island" in flood- and quake-prone land in New Brighton is seeking tenders for a new site.

Nova Montessori, the only Montessori primary school in the South Island, is surrounded by red-zoned residential land that co-principal Pauline Matsis said would be the death of it.

"We call ourselves Nova's Ark now because of the flooding. Our school is on an island, literally, when it floods."

The 25-year-old school was doing "really well", with just 60 pupils - down from 100 before the quakes - and "we will die if we stay here".

While the Owles Tce grounds and buildings it had rented for 11 years were "absolutely gorgeous", they was damaged and in an area of the city with not enough children.

"The future of the school is dependent on relocating," Matsis said.

Staff took a 20 per cent drop in their salaries rather than lose a staff member during what became a significant drop in revenue.

The school board was seeking tenders for land within urban Christchurch from 2500 to 5000 square metres. It would either build a new school, or use existing buildings.

"We're open to looking at anything that can house us and keep Nova Montessori going."

The school had approached the Ministry of Education to use the sites of closed schools, including Glenmoor and Richmond, but there was too much long-term "red tape", she said.

"We don't have that long. We just need somebody to give us a chance. We really need some help. We're in a bit of a pickle."

The school's parents were supporting the move, and would "travel wherever we go", Matsis said.

The new school capacity was to be up to 200, with an early childhood centre attached.

Landlord Jeff Cartridge, who built the school, said he had "significantly" reduced rent to help with its decreased revenue issue.

He understood the school's predicament, and said it was free to get out of the lease if it found another location. But he was unsure what the 2500sqm land could be used for in future.

"To rebuild on that site, it's very unlikely we'd be able to get insurance."

The commercial property would not qualify for any compensation for decreased land value like surrounding residents potentially would.

"We will get nothing."

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