Changing times at Taieri Mouth

Taieri Beach School pupils and sisters Dannielle (10) and Indica (9) Hawkins clean the seagull droppings off the school's highly recognisable mural. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Taieri Beach School pupils and sisters Dannielle (10) and Indica (9) Hawkins clean the seagull droppings off the school's highly recognisable mural. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A significant building boom in Taieri Mouth may be about to change the fortunes of Taieri Beach School.

For more than a decade, the roll at the school has been gradually declining, from about 25 pupils to fewer than 10.

Yet the single-teacher school remains open because it is considered remote and rural.

It is hoped a subdivision of beachfront land across the road from the school will make a major difference to the school's roll in coming years.

Clutha District Council planning and regulatory group manager Ian McCabe said the land had been subdivided into 23 allotments - 18 of which had been given permission to establish residential activities, and a further three had been given permission to establish residential/commercial activities.

''The subdivision is the largest of a number of subdivision and land use consents in the vicinity of the school that have been considered and granted over the last 10 years.''

He said consented building work around the Clutha District had increased significantly during the past three years.

''Clutha District itself is going through quite a significant building boom.

''The number of building consents is roughly the same, but now we're building new houses, whereas 12-24 months ago we were just doing alterations.

''So the value is quite considerably more than what we were doing two years ago.

''You'll find that in and around places like Taieri Mouth, Kaka Point, and a little bit in Balclutha and Kaitangata.

''There is growth happening all around the district.''

He said the value of building work consented in the Clutha District, for the month of April over the past three years, had grown from $1,212,497 in April 2017 to $4,030,023 in April this year.

Taieri Beach School principal-teacher Dr Gloria Penrice hoped the growth would translate into more families in the area and more pupils at the school.

She said the township used to have a lot of fishing, forestry and farming families but the demographic had changed.

It had become more of a holiday destination and those who did live there travelled to Dunedin for work.

Some families were returning to the area because the roll-out of internet technology was allowing them to work from home.

''It is exciting to see the boom in housing sales and building in Taieri Mouth.

''It has all of the perks and views of a holiday home, but they can work from home.''

She said the school had started placing advertisements in the media to attract young families to the area.

''When I first came to this school, I didn't know it existed.

''We're putting ads in, to highlight the fact that we exist and show what we have to offer.

''There may be people who are on the outskirts of Dunedin, who may want their kids to come to a smaller-sized school, where the teacher-to-pupil ratio is lower than the larger Dunedin schools.

''They can get more one-to-one support here, and we also have a whanau-relaxed, inclusive learning environment which suits some children better than others.

''I am sure this will appeal to young families moving to Taieri Mouth and I look forward to an increasing roll.''

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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