New school site blessed

Future first-day pupils of Shotover Primary School, twins Taylor (left) and Jake Nickolls (3), with their father, Mark, at the dawn blessing of their new school site on Saturday morning. Back (from left) are new principal Ben Witheford, Shotover Country developers Sharyn and Grant Stalker, Jude Nickolls and board of trustees chairwoman Sally Mingaye-Hall. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
Future first-day pupils of Shotover Primary School, twins Taylor (left) and Jake Nickolls (3), with their father, Mark, at the dawn blessing of their new school site on Saturday morning. Back (from left) are new principal Ben Witheford, Shotover Country developers Sharyn and Grant Stalker, Jude Nickolls and board of trustees chairwoman Sally Mingaye-Hall. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
More than 20 people, including two future pupils, braved the cold on Saturday morning to attend the dawn blessing of the Shotover Primary School site at Shotover Country near Queenstown.

The blessing marked the first stage of the building project, which is worth almost $17 million. The first sod was turned by twins Taylor and Jake Nickolls, helped by their father, Mark Nickolls.

The school will open its doors for term one next year, catering to 460 pupils in years 1 to 8, but would eventually have capacity for up to 650 pupils.

At stage one, the school will comprise 20 classroom spaces, administration areas, a library and a multipurpose hall.

Stage two would have an additional eight classrooms, with room to expand.

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Kim Shannon said in a statement the school's design would reflect its natural surroundings and feature multipurpose spaces, enabling ''individual and collaborative teaching and learning'', would be built to high energy-efficient standards and would meet the Green Building Council's requirements concerning sustainable design and construction practices.

On Saturday, board of trustees chairwoman Sally Mingaye-Hall said the blessing had been pulled together at ''incredibly short notice''. A wider celebration would be held ''at a later date'' with the laying of a foundation stone, she said.

Guests at Saturday's blessing included the trustees, Queenstown Lakes deputy mayor Lyal Cocks, Shotover Country developers Sharyn and Grant Stalker and the new school's principal, Ben Witheford.

Shotover Country is a 120ha $300 million development near Queenstown, comprising 750 residential lots and a commercial retail area.