$22m rebuild of leaky Gardens School

A Manurewa school that was one of the biggest casualties of the leaky building crisis will be almost completely rebuilt at a cost of $22 million.

The Gardens School, a decile 10 primary school with just over 600 students near the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens, says only two of its 24 classrooms will be kept.

Four of the original classrooms have already been demolished and others have been closed, forcing nine classes into prefabricated buildings that have taken over the playing field.

Board of trustees head Julie Pizzini said the decision to rebuild, announced yesterday by Education Minister Hekia Parata and assistant minister Nikki Kaye, was "a long time coming".

"We started asking for this in about 2009," she said. "The staff and our teachers and our community have been really patient. Staff have done a fantastic job in keeping the property issues away from the children, and achievement has been maintained."

Principal Susannah Fowler said the school opened in 2002 with just 132 pupils and other buildings were added as the roll grew along with new housing in the area.

Leaks were identified early and the Ministry of Education approved what was planned as a "remediation" in 2010. But when the cladding came off the first classrooms in 2012, workers found "structural issues" that forced a rethink leading to the decision to rebuild completely.

The rebuild will replace single-teacher classrooms with larger multi-teacher spaces, and desks will make way for tables and computers.

Ms Kaye said the new buildings would cater for 700 students, but Mrs Fowler said this was still being negotiated because the school's roll was still growing.

Students will remain in prefabs on the field while the new school is built largely on the site of the existing buildings, and are due to move into their new buildings in January 2017.

Leaky buildings

  • About 42,000 houses, 150 schools and 100 commercial buildings were built with inadequate "weathertightness" mainly between 1991 and 2004.
  • The Building Act 1991 changed building controls from a prescriptive system to a more self-regulated regime. The rules were tightened again in 2004.
  • Repairs have been put at about $12 billion, including $1.5 billion for schools.
  • Ministry of Education has settled claims against cladding manufacturer James Hardie and others, and is still pursuing other claims in the courts.
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