$25m school property sales

More than $25million was made from the sale of school land and buildings in Otago and Southland over the past decade, Land Information New Zealand data shows.

The money came from the sale of 13 schools — Waldronville School (closed in 2010), Tomahawk School (2010), Corstorphine School (2010), Otepopo School (2020), College Street School (2011), High Street School (2011), Forbury School (2012), Paerau School (2012), Rotary Park School (2013), Waimahaka School (2013), Blackmount School (2014), Willowbank School (2016), and Wakatipu High School (2018).

The latest schools to be closed were Isla Bank School (2019) in Southland and Flag Swamp School (2020) in Otago, but the disposal process has not yet started on either school.

Prices ranged from $80,000 paid for Paerau School in Ranfurly, to $20million for the former Wakatipu High School in Queenstown.

Schools that are deemed surplus to educational purposes are placed in the Crown’s disposal process, as required by the Public Works Act.

The Act requires surplus property to be offered to other government departments, previous property owners and local iwi, before it can be placed on the open market.

Most of the properties were bought by Ngai Tahu Property Ltd, one was bought by a government department and the remaining four were sold on the open market to Morclarke Developments, John and Bruna Oakes, Otakau Health Ltd and the Southland District Council.

The largest of the purchases was the former Wakatipu High School property, which was sold to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in November 2018.

Government agency KiwiBuild and Ngai Tahu Property are now working together to turn it into a 350-unit housing development.

The Te Pa Tahuna development includes 10 apartment blocks with 100 units available to eligible buyers through the KiwiBuild scheme, at a price of up to $650,000.

Ministry of Education infrastructure service head Kim Shannon said depending on the type of disposal, the proceeds of school sales were dispersed differently.

"Proceeds from the sale of closed school land and assets is returned to the Ministry of Education’s operational budget, to be reallocated according to our priorities at that time.

"Proceeds from the sale of surplus land at an existing school is split.

"Schools will receive 50% to reinvest in their school infrastructure. The other 50% is returned to the Ministry of Education.

"Where schools elect to dispose of school housing, they will receive 100% of the proceeds to reinvest in their school infrastructure."

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