Sliding into Queenstown Primary School’s future

Queenstown Primary School year 8 students Geneva Moran, 13, left, and Grace Reid, 12, in the...
Queenstown Primary School year 8 students Geneva Moran, 13, left, and Grace Reid, 12, in the school’s new playground. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
Major upgrades to Te Kura Tuatahi o Tāhuna — Queenstown Primary School (QPS) have been completed, and a major project for the school’s future has been announced.

On Tuesday, Ministry of Education officials, Queenstown mayor Glyn Lewers and Southland MP Joseph Mooney were included in the official opening of the school’s year-long upgrade, which includes 10 new classrooms, repurposed from Wakatipu High, a new junior playground, sandpit, astroturf playing surfaces, and a whānau room with cooking facilities.

But that’s just the beginning.

The opening also marked the official launch of ‘The QPS Project’, a fundraising initiative aimed at raising $400,000 by 2027 to complete Queenstown’s oldest state primary school’s masterplan.

School principal Fiona Cavanagh says QPS will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the current site next year, which provides the perfect opportunity to ensure the school and grounds meet the community’s needs for the next 50 years.

Six more additions are planned as part of the project — new astroturf surfaces, a celestial compass to create a central meeting point and teaching tool for matauranga Maori, new outdoor seating and sunshades, upgrades to the senior playground, a bike pump track and new bike sheds, and a "mud kitchen" for the junior playground.

Board of trustees member Jeannie Galavazi says the school community wants their students and whānau to have access to a play space and outdoor environment on par with the Whakatipu’s newer primary schools.

"Given that we’re a hub for so many whānau from Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Arthurs Point, Bob’s Cove and Queenstown Hill, and have such a central location, we think QPS should really command pride in our place," Galavazi says.

"We want the school to be a community facility that connects people and promotes physical outdoor activity — even after the bell rings."

Cavanagh says The QPS Project’s founded with the purpose of reflecting the historical story of the school’s land, which was once an important wetland to mana whenua for gathering food.

Along with the The QPS Project additions, there are also plans for a locally carved waharoa (gateway) at the entrance to the school, showcasing native plants, while a set of pou (posts) will act as way-finders throughout the school.

She says the school’s worked closely with mana whenua to ensure the work has been done in a culturally sensitive way.

Local kaumatua Darren Rewi says the project will make the school an anchor point for the whole community — as the former wetlands were for mana whenua.

"Once the outside spaces are in place, the school won’t have to bring in expensive consultants to speak about Māori history and the curriculum — all the learning opportunities will be outside."

Donations, via or in-kind support, can be put towards one of the six campaigns, while a ‘Twilight Carnival’ is planned for spring.