School leaks action possible

The Ministry of Education is considering whether to take legal action over ''leaky'' Arrowtown School buildings.

As reported by the Otago Daily Times on Saturday, the school - which has 510 pupils in 21 classrooms - revealed to parents and caregivers on Friday there are weathertightness issues with seven of the school's nine blocks.

Principal Robin Harris said it would take millions of dollars to fix the problem and the ministry was considering demolishing and rebuilding some of the worst buildings rather than attempting to repair them.

Ministry acting head of education infrastructure service Rob Giller yesterday said no decisions had been made about legal action over the school's weathertightness issues.

He named Rilean Construction - an award-winning, Queenstown-based firm - as the company that built most of the school.

But Rilean director and shareholder Steve McLean said the ministry had not raised any weathertightness issues with him since his company was involved in the project in 1996 and 1997.

In fact, the ODT's call was his first time someone had raised the issue with his firm, he said - despite the ministry first identifying potential issues in 2012.

''We have never been asked to go back and look at any weathertightness issues at the school in the ensuing 17 years and have not been contacted by, or had any correspondence with, the Ministry of Education, the design team, or the school itself, either today or in the past,'' he said in an emailed statement.

''The project ran smoothly with a good consultant team and was finished on time and on budget. It was a great job to work on.''

Mr McLean said the school was built to the plans provided by the design team and signed off by the ministry in accordance with design regulations and standards at the time.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council - which was not able to provide comment by deadline - also signed off the buildings, Mr McLean said.

''We aren't in a position to comment any further until we've spoken with the relative parties.''

Work started in June on a new $2.4 million classroom block at Arrowtown School, which will house six classrooms in a double-storey extension.

david.williams@odt.co.nz