High Street School neighbour Margie Harris clears leaves
and weeds from an entrance to the former primary school.
Photo by Linda Robertson.
A former inner-city Dunedin school has become an
''absolute disaster area'' with used syringes lying on the
premises and people dossing down in school buildings,
neighbouring residents say.
High Street School was closed in February 2011 after its roll
declined significantly, and has since gone to ''wrack and
ruin'', the overgrown gardens and property becoming littered
with rubbish, broken glass and used syringes and graffiti
having been painted on walls.
The grounds are supposed to be maintained by Ministry of
Education contractors Darroch - a New Zealand-owned
commercial and industrial property services company.
However, school neighbour Margie Harris said they did not
appear to be doing their job properly.
''There's virtually no maintenance going on over there.
''All Darroch do is mow the grass now and then, and leave the
clippings on the ground to rot. They're not doing what they
are supposed to.
''The whole thing is an absolute disaster.
''They [the Government] spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars of taxpayers' money, just to let it go to wrack and
Mrs Harris said she had become so upset with the mess she had
decided to do some of the maintenance herself.
''I go around there once a week with a plastic bag and sweep
up the glass and rubbish. I also sweep all the leaves out of
doorways and off paths.''
The spoutings were filled with leaves, the gardens and the
remaining playground equipment were overgrown with weeds up
to 1.5m high; she had come across syringes; and she believed
people were sleeping in one of the school's buildings, Mrs
''There's virtually no rubbish over there now because I've
picked it all up. It's terrible that it's just been left like
that - it's madness.''
Another neighbour, Ryan Shaw was also concerned about the
site's rapid state of decay through lack of maintenance.
''It's a bit of an eyesore. It doesn't look very good.''
Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said it was
disheartening to see what was once a good school fall into
''It was a lovely school. There was a time when it was a very
lively and buoyant school. Now it's derelict.
''It's gradually running downhill - it's rather sad.''
Waldronville, Rotary Park and Corstorphine schools have also
closed in the past four years, and, like High Street School,
are going through the ministry's disposal process. But
observations by the Otago Daily Times have found the
other three closed schools to be well maintained in
A spokesman for Darroch said the company was not permitted to
comment on its maintenance contracts with the Ministry of
Education, and referred the newspaper to the ministry's media
A spokeswoman said the ministry had a contract with Darroch
to manage maintenance on closed school sites, including the
mowing of lawns.
''Where there are concerns about some aspect of the
maintenance of closed school sites, the ministry would
welcome specific feedback about which sites and what the
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