Resort's new high school to open in 2018

Steve Hall.
Steve Hall.
Year 9 pupils at Queenstown's only secondary school will be the first to benefit when its replacement school of twice the capacity opens at Frankton in January 2018.

Wakatipu High School trustees and principal Steve Hall yesterday welcomed the certainty given by Minister of Education Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kay the new school at Remarkables Park would happen.

Building and maintaining the new Wakatipu High School and three other schools around New Zealand would be delivered by a public-private partnership (PPP), the ministers announced.

An invitation for expressions of interest will be issued for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of all four schools.

''If the expression of interest is successful and the PPP goes ahead, the Ministry of Education estimates the cost of construction and maintenance for the project will be more than $200 million,'' Ms Parata said.

''The ministry advises that the use of a PPP for this bundle of four schools could deliver savings of 2% to 8% over traditional procurement by the ministry.''

Mr Hall said the announcement meant pupils, parents, staff and trustees knew they would be using the present site on Fryer St for the next four years.

The announcement also meant the school community could start looking forward to a new modern learning environment, he said.

''It's only our current year nines who are going to go into the new school. This is nearly a generation of students away, so it means for the students here now we're going to keep working hard and doing the things we've been doing hard out for the last year or so to deliver a great all-round education and keep getting better and better at that.''

About 750 pupils study and 81 staff work at the existing high school, which opened in 1980. Classrooms have been added to keep up with growing roll.

The replacement school for about 1500 Wakatipu pupils will be built on 8ha of land the ministry bought from Remarkables Park Ltd in 2012.

Queenstown Airport's noise boundary clips the northwest corner of the site, which is earmarked for a playing field, away from classrooms.

Mr Hall said the new school site was going to be sunny, ''which will be fantastic''.

''There are many benefits and one is it will be a modern learning environment, with technology a big part of it. Education is changing and schools built in this day and age look and work differently to schools that were built some time ago, like this one.''

Mr Hall said a property manager from the ministry would begin working with school staff this week to explain and discuss the process for the relocation.

''We need to learn and give input into that, which I understand we will, so it's very exciting.''

The new high school will cover a major part of the ''Education Facilities Precinct'' being developed at Remarkables Park.

The Invercargill-based Southern Institute of Technology last week opened its new $3.4 million student accommodation block.

The villa-style facility for up to 54 Queenstown students is next door to the Zig Zag Zoo early learning centre, which opened last year.