School set to be biggest in South Island

Principal Ben Witheford hopes the next phase of growth at Shotover Primary School will be its...
Principal Ben Witheford hopes the next phase of growth at Shotover Primary School will be its last. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
The principal of a rapidly growing Queenstown primary school hopes there are plans for a new school in the pipeline to ease pressure on other education providers.

Shotover Primary School is set to become the biggest primary school in the South Island, once a large-scale building project is finished next year.

Principal Ben Witheford hoped that would be its final growth spurt.

A large section of land has been cleared in preparation for building work to begin on a mammoth new teaching block in May, which will take the school's roll capacity from 650 to 900.

Mr Witheford said a new primary school within the Shotover zone was needed to cater to the area's continual, and rapid, growth.

He pointed to newly-announced housing developments in Shotover Country and Ladies' Mile, which were not on the books when Shotover Primary was first planned.

"We'd like to stop at 900. The site won't cope with any more humans," he said.

"We would get quite nervous if no other education providers were planned, in addition to the other new school."

The Ministry of Education announced in early 2017 that it was looking for land for a new primary school in Wakatipu.

Little more has been revealed publicly since then, but many believe it will be located in the Jack's Point-Hanley's Farm area.

Mr Witheford's comments echoed those of Mayor Jim Boult, who said in December two new schools may be needed.

"If NZTA does finally get our traffic issues sorted, there's further development proposed for Ladies Mile.

"You can't send them all to Shotover."

At the time, Ministry of Education official Katrina Casey said "any decisions about new schools and developments will be announced in due course".

The new Shotover Primary building will be completed in stages, and is dependent on future government funding which will be decided later in the year.

All going to plan, Mr Witheford expects it to be open in mid-2020.

Shotover will not be the only school undertaking building work this year.

Arrowtown Primary School is planning an $11million redevelopment, while stage 2 of the new Wakatipu High School build is also coming up.

KingsView School is looking to buy a site and build a new school, so it can grow its roll from 52 to about 150. The Christian school rents its Frankton building.

"It's always been part of the vision of the school to own our own premises. [The board] is looking at a couple of viable options," principal Mike Stanley said.

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